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Forbes Series Kick Off: Beyond CIO

The Most Talented IT Executives are Advancing Beyond CIO

by Peter High, series on Forbes.com

03-25-2013

I recently completed a series in this column referring to the CIO-plus. In it, I interviewed a number of chief information officers who had been asked to take on additional responsibilities, due to the great work done as CIOs and the appreciation that that good work translates well into other functions within the company. The companies were a diverse lot, including ADP, P&G, Marsh & McLennan, Waste Management, McKesson, Merck, Walgreens, Owens Corning, and the San Francisco Giants among others. (To access the entire series, please visit this link.)

I would like to introduce a new series, which I refer to as “Beyond CIO.” There is a growing cadre of former CIOs who have been promoted or hired into positions that continue to take advantage of their technical acumen, but provide them with expanded purviews. Most of the executives that will be profiled will be CEOs or COOs who were former CIOs. Again, this is a diverse lot, including executives from companies like:

  • American Express
  • T.D. Ameritrade
  • Caesars Entertainment
  • Schneider National
  • Fifth Third Bank
  •  HP

Chief operating officer has traditionally been a key role to have to put one’s self as “on-deck” to the top job.  Chief financial officers have also hewn their path to the CEO role. Not long ago, it may have seemed absurd to think of the CIO as an important stop on the way to the top role in the company.  Yet a group of special technology leaders have spent meaningful time as CIO but then continued the ascent beyond the role.

There are some common denominators among these trailblazers:

  1. All of them have thought about business value first, and technology second
  2. Most have worked in other business disciplines prior to ascending to the CIO role
  3. Many work within organizations that promote from within
  4. A majority have an MBA or advanced degree in a business discipline
  5. Many also have spent time as consultants

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