Becoming a chief information officer

Many aspiring IT professionals dream of being in the top spot one day. CIOs are now as well-regarded as marketing and operations directors for the positive influence they can have on an organisation. So what does it really take to become a Chief Information Officer (CIO)?




Who is a CIO?

Many companies and organisations in a variety of sectors rely on information technology to support and achieve their objectives. The Chief Information Officer is a job title for the head of information technology, responsible for the overall operation of information technology and computer systems.

The CIO typically reports to either the Chief Financial Officer or, in IT-centred organisations, to the Chief Executive Officer. The CIO has come to be viewed in many organisations as a key contributor to formulating strategic goals.

What does a CIO do?

CIOs are responsible for the overall functioning of technology within their organisation. They propose the required information technology, create and implement a plan for introducing that technology, while supporting the technical needs of employees by ensuring they are trained on new technologies.

CIOs delegate technical decisions to a variety of employees and ensure tasks are successfully completed. CIOs observe many different activities in all departments and use a variety of information to project future needs and issues. They identify problem areas and implement strategies to effectively solve them.

What kind of education and training does a CIO need?

CIOs typically need at least a Master’s degree in information systems, computer science, network management or another related field. CIOs will usually complete various technology courses throughout their career to keep their skills up-to-date and stay abreast with industry advancements.

Most CIOs begin their careers in lower positions and advance to executive positions as they acquire the necessary skills and experience. Practical experience, knowledge and expertise gained over time are a must, and most CIOs have built long, successful careers once they reach senior status.

What sort of skills do you need to become a CIO?

CIOs must have a solid understanding of business processes and how to apply a variety of technologies to strategies and operations. Motivation, self-confidence, good judgement and sharp negotiation skills are essential. Chief Information Officers must also possess excellent communication skills and leadership capabilities, as well as great business acumen and the ability to make executive decisions to benefit the whole business. 

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