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Christine Wright, Managing Director, Asia, Hays
Despite being relatively new, the role of Chief Information Officer is fast establishing itself as a key part of the executive suite.
The role faces an extremely fast-changing environment amid the speed of technology advancements, which leaves many aspiring CIOs wondering which direction they should take in their career.
As recruiting experts, we spoke to 307 IT leaders across Asia through in-depth one-on-one interviews, to uncover what makes a successful CIO.
In our ‘DNA of a CIO Asia’ report, we found that most CIOs had IT related university degrees, with 62 percent possessing a degree in Information Technology, Computer Science or Systems.
Whilst a solid technical foundation is a key building block to becoming CIO, keeping abreast of rapidly changing technology advancements was seen to be a key career development step that 49 percent of CIOs take.
“In our ‘DNA of a CIO Asia’ report, we found that most CIOs had IT related university degrees, with 62 percent possessing a degree in Information Technology, Computer Science or Systems.”
But being CIO is not only about the technical knowledge, it’s also about being commercially involved in the business and having a multitude of business skills. The CIOs we surveyed agreed that strategic planning is the most important skill a CIO must possess. This was followed by people management and stakeholder engagement.
Today’s IT leaders are not just classed as technical support, but rather people who can enhance the strategic direction of entire organisations by putting technology at the heart. Successful CIOs spend time working across the wider organisation in order to act as an effective interface between IT and the business to deliver critical outcomes.
Some of the ways CIOs have developed these skills include further education, with 23 per cent having obtained an MBA. The CIOs interviewed also spoke of international experience as a key contributor. In fact 44 per cent of the CIOs interviewed had gained international experience and 70 percent of those found this to be of considerable benefit to their career.
CIOs have a genuine desire to enhance organisations, and are in a unique position to act as a link between business strategy and IT strategy. Whilst there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to becoming a CIO, there are certainly common traits that aspiring CIOs can strive towards.
On top of striking the balance between technology and business, the rapidly changing economic and technological environment in Asia poses a further set of challenges for today’s CIO.
When asked about the greatest business challenges for CIOs during the next 12 months, CIOs addressed a number of hurdles, such as the challenge to align strategic requirements with operational budget and workforce (38 percent), recruitment, retention and attraction (31 percent) and skills and knowledge gap of the team (31 percent). Layer this with the fact that 95 percent of the surveyed CIOs are male; proving more needs to be done to encourage women into IT in addition to other means of addressing skills and talent shortages.