Wider vision for career success

Could you possibly work any harder? It seems leading IT professionals are anxious to do so. Chief information officers and IT...

Could you possibly work any harder? It seems leading IT professionals are anxious to do so. Chief information officers and IT directors are increasingly chasing non-executive directorships on other companies' boards, according to last month's CIO census by CIO Connect.

Almost half the IT chiefs surveyed said they hankered after a non-executive role, with many seeing it as a stepping stone to positions on their own organisation's board.

The principle behind such moves holds true for all levels and types of IT specialist, from the top of the IT organisation all the way down to the most junior team member. The opportunity to see how other businesses operate, how other departments within the business are organised and what the users of IT services really want invariably brings valuable insights back to the IT department.

Certainly senior IT professionals have much to offer in the boardroom, as our feature article on page 30 makes clear. They possess strategic vision and can provide the change management skills vital to every modern enterprise. No wonder that IT chiefs are increasingly key influencers within the business.

With IT projects under ever closer boardroom scrutiny and return on investment calculations the key to getting so many projects signed off, IT managers have to rely on the strength of their experience and interpersonal skills to have an impact. These are the very attributes that a non-executive director needs.

Those tempted to take up the non-exec challenge will not be doing it for the money or for an easy life. The responsibilities far outweigh the financial rewards, and survey after survey shows that IT directors work some of the longest hours of any group of senior managers.

Most IT directors feel their day job - to say nothing of the evenings and weekends - is all-consuming. Fitting in a second job, even if it only requires a few days a month, is a strain, but the wealth of experience it can offer can be a real plus to a CV.

Some IT directors, determined to get the broader business skills needed to advance their careers, look for short-term positions outside IT. Non-executive directorships might be an alternative way of getting the experience needed to take your career to the next level.

From the CIO becoming a non-executive director to the junior helpdesk team member work shadowing a front-line user, experience is king. The clear message is: if you want to get ahead, take a broader view.

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