Next Move: How do I become a CIO?

I have a masters degree in computer science and have worked in IT for seven years in a variety of roles from systems manager on...

I have a masters degree in computer science and have worked in IT for seven years in a variety of roles from systems manager on Unix to mainframe application manager and Y2K project manager. I now work on knowledge management. My 10-year goal is to become CIO of a medium or large company. Could you give me some advice on how to achieve this goal?

Improve your networking skills
Chief information officers (CIOs) generally have a very good mix of technical and soft skills, and the modern CIO must be highly competent technically, as well as being an excellent manager.

Your experience suggests that you have a relatively wide range of skills, but that you have worked on a project basis on each. CIOs must have an understanding of the technical and business challenges that are faced on a multitude of projects and also know how to communicate the issues that are faced to the chief executive and the board. It is also important to have a solid and all-encompassing understanding of how disparate technologies work together within an organisation and how they integrate with business processes to achieve company goals.

To keep your 10-year goal on track you will need to focus on your soft skills and management skills, but perhaps more importantly improve your networking. Establishing trusted relationships with senior management is the key to moving up the ladder, and demonstrating your team's successes and the issues it faces to the right people in the right manner can help to show that you have the required people skills.

Relationship building with suppliers, customers and fellow employees is also a must. As a CIO you may have to get involved in negotiations, and strong relationships here are vital. Market knowledge is also key because the more senior you are, the more you will be expected to understand the high-level business and technical issues that effect your company. Keeping abreast of the market will also help when it comes to making IT purchasing and integration decisions.

Solution by Terry Watts, E-Skills UK

The panel: MSB International, Best International, British Computer Society, Computer Futures, Computer People, Elan, Reed Computing, Zarak Technology, E-Skills UK

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