How do you work towards becoming a CIO?

I got this one question in CIO Network group from I did share my thought there and I will paste it here to share once again. While it works for CIO role, I would think you can change it with the other C title and it works with the same principle as well.

From Tej Powar – Senior .NET Developer at Lloyds Banking Group

One of my ambitions is to become a CIO. Thought it would be good to get an insight of how some people have reached there. I understand alot of hard work and commitment is required which I have got. But any tips to working towards becoming a CIO would be great.

I suggest first of all, we need to clearly set the role of CIO. My thought is that the CIO need to contribute his part in solving the total business problems of the company, through his strength, technology.

  • In order to contribute, the CIO would need to have a good understanding about the business from all perspectives of running a business. That’s how the MBA can help with the knowledge. And the CIO will see his/her business through that knowledge. It doesn’t mean the CIO has to be the master in the other fields. As, that’s not making sense. If he can be that good, he may just switch the career to the other professions, if he finds it at a better fulfilment. So, knowledgable about business operations, model, issues, challenges. That will help the CIO to know how he can leverage Technology, IT infrastructure to solve contribute to the success of the company. And that will advance him/her to the next level, once he can see through the bigger picture.
  • The CIO needs to contribute through his strength which is around technology, IT infrastructure (hard and soft). That should be the strength that the other C members don’t have. We are not superman. So, we need to know our strength and focus contribution through the strength only. That’s the best way to contribute. So, if you want to take the CIO role, do whatever you do to be excellent at technology, software development, IT infrastructure, security, architecture, … That’s the must. Otherwise, you would find yourself contribute through the other strengths which are not technology. Then, how they would call you CIO :)? And in order to be the expert in the field, it needs hard work, sweat and time.
  • Leadership: As one of the C members, it always requires leadership skill. It is that you have to convince, you have to influence all C members about what you think it’s right for the business from technology perspective. So, be sure you develop this skill. It’ll need you to be open: Open to learn more, know more. Open to get to know more people, their characters and their thoughts/preference.

So, no matter what you do, if you can broad your knowledge about business, sharpen your IT / technology skills, and develop your leadership skill, you’ll get there, I believe. 

Good luck.

The whole conversation can be found at

The plus (also from the thread of comments from the conversation) is this great doc from EY: DNA of the CIO

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