Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How to become a CIO

Someone asked me a seemingly innocuous question "How do I become a CIO ?"

It set into motion a thought process and I began to wonder. So here is the result of the wondering in a step by step how to. There could be many more questions in the list, but I restricted myself to the ones that matter the most.

  1. You have to want to become one
  2. Some one should be willing to hire you as one
  3. Ask yourself the questions below:
  • Do you understand business activities well specific to your industry as well as generically ?
  • Are you good at numbers, budgets, reconciliations, metrics ?
  • Can you confidently present in a management group meeting without being tongue-tied ?
  • Do people within your team and your users trust you ?
  • Can you negotiate well with a vendor or a user ?
  • Are you able to resolve conflict ?
  • Are you able to hold your head high and have a disagreement with your boss without getting beaten up ?
  • Can you talk in a language that non-IT folks can understand ?
  • Are you able to deliver results as promised ?

If the answer to any of the questions above is NO, then work upon making it a yes. If you get more than 2 NO, then you are not yet ready.

If you got all YES and are not yet a CIO, then go to point 1 and 2. The only other reason can be you are a consultant.

Update: After being asked the question umpteen times by readers, I wrote the sequel to this piece, How to become a CIO - Part 2


  1. I always thought CIO must be spending large amount of time to get awareness about latest in tech market and sleeping with all those tech journals as pillow

    "Do you keep yourself updated with latest happening in technology which can take your business to the next level"

  2. The CIO needs awareness of tech trends and the ability to realize the potential benefit to the business. A deeper understanding cannot be created for every technology that comes to market. But you have to know where to find the expertise should you want to evaluate. Future trends indicate that the CIO is more of a Business Leader than a Technology Nerd.

  3. Anonymous4:30 PM

    I am an IT professional with 6 years experience as Business Analyst, Web Developer, Programmer and Team Lead in multinationals and govt organizations. My aim is to become a CIO and right now I am pursuing my full-time MBA-IT to have qualification and more knowledge of business and IT. I am confident and also good in numbers but haven't experienced any budgeting yet. How to gain budgeting knowledge? Your valuable comments are required.

    1. Anonymous6:27 AM

      I recommend you to get the PMP Certification. It will open doors and knowledge in management of budgets and resources. For more info go to:

  4. It is heartening to note your aspiration and the plan towards achieving success. Knowledge of Budgeting can be acquired with some help from a coach, one of your professors at the MBA program (if Finance is an elective, it would help), or reading a few basic books on Budgeting & Financial Management. It is important to practice this wherever possible to ensure that you become good at it.

  5. very specific article for someone vying to be one. making one look beyond technicality and domain knowledge!

  6. If you plan on a long term career as a project manager, then yes, even with your level of experience, I would suggest getting your PMP. You can prepare yourself for the exam in one of the PMP trainingproviders like You can do minimal prep-work to get 40 PMI® Contact Hours and apply to PMI for PMP Exam before the class begins.