Roger Jones, general manager, business technology group at Auckland Transport, has held various ICT leadership roles across sectors.
But it was his initial career as a police officer that opened the path for him to move into information technology, and provided him skills that allowed him to work in different industries, including health, dairy and airline.
Jones says he would have found it "a lot more difficult" to move industries during his ICT career without a law enforcement background.
"The police teaches you lots of things," he tells CIO New Zealand. "It teaches you leadership skills, to work in different environments, and to quickly understand the different environments and business models."
Jones started using computers while working as a police officer in Waikato.
That sparked his interest, and he undertook two papers at the University of Waikato as an introduction to computing.
He then received a full Bachelor of Science degree, studying part-time while working as a police officer.
Jones was seconded to the IT department, and moved up from business analyst to strategy and planning advisor, as part of the six-member management team for the Police IT Group.
He switched sectors after working on various projects across the police "except INCIS". His next two roles were technology and information manager at Health Benefits, and business services manager at the Capital and Coast District Health Board.
Jones then moved to the private sector, working for Air New Zealand and Fonterra. In 2006, he joined the government transport sector, moving to his current job nearly a year ago.
Jones sees the benefits of taking on different roles and across sectors.
"If you progress on one career path, you can become blinkered," he says. "Diversity in life experiences makes the difference."
Jones keeps in touch with his former police colleagues and is aware of other officers who moved to IT, but as far as he knows he is the only one who moved to the rank of CIO.
Here are two skills CIOs need to acquire, he says: Financial management, and program management certification.
"When I came through the ranks, you didn't need that [program management certification], you just needed to have practical experience. Now companies look for certification to get past first base," he says.
Jones recommends upskilling through executive courses, webcasts, reading articles and attending industry and vendor briefings. "You have to stay current," he says. "There is still a learning component not only from a technology point of view but also from a people component."
Jones says he and his team are working on 60 projects concurrently, with 30 more "in the pipeline".
"As I finish more, the list will never go down."
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