One of our peer advisory members told me recently that he was looking to get guidance from the collective group on how he could escalate his career from a CIO to a CEO.
What I love about his thinking is he was elevating how far he would go in his own career beyond the traditional IT role.
What about you? How far do you see yourself going? Do you see yourself maxing out at a CIO role, or going farther?
We aren’t the only ones asking these types of questions. Eric Dirst is President of Online Services at Devry Education Group, but previously he was the CIO. He keynoted one of our recent events with a presentation called “How IT Leaders Can Move into Business Leadership Roles.” Eric shared both his own journey of how he moved from CIO role to a CEO running one of the largest divisions of Devry, and he also showed multiple paths for technology executives to move into higher level roles. It’s a great story. In the next few posts I’ll share some of Eric’s key suggestions and insights on how senior Technology executives can move to higher level business roles.
Eric started his presentation with asking the question of why you should even want to move into a senior business role. After all, IT is great, and if you are a leader in IT, you most likely really enjoy the role.
Here are two key insights as to why you should embrace the change, plus a tip
First – Respect.
IT has become more respected in the last couple of years as we have moved into digital transformation. But Eric shared that he believes there there is still a level of respect that is not quite there yet. As CIO, Eric found himself routinely reporting to the board on cyber security activities and IT strategy.
When he took the role of president of the group, he became aware of a higher level of respect. Board members now seek him out and ask him for advice on a host of issues.
Second – You’ll gain a fresh perspective on what is really important to the business.
As president of his division, Eric has himself gained a fresh perspective on what is really important to the business. Eric took a step back after he had been in the new executive role for a year, and thought about all of the things he used to worry about as CIO. As president he could care less about most of those worries.
Why? Because in IT you look for the business to help you prioritize. The problem, according to Eric is that most IT leaders are spending too much time listening to the needs of middle management, and not enough time prioritizing the goals of the executives at the top. The middle management is always adding nichy projects for their area, but most of these projects will not impact the company as much as the top 2-3 projects that your CEO and other top executives care about. Their projects are the ones that can move the numbers or help them achieve their strategy or accomplish the big goals they have.
Eric’s advice? He would encourage you to find out what those two or three objectives are and make sure you are devoting the majority of your time, attention and management time to make sure they are getting done!
In the next posts I’ll share Eric’s view of the different senior business roles you can move into from IT and his advice on how to get there!
Want to see the whole presentation?