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Skills your CEO wants you to have

Bonnie Gardiner | March 25, 2015
Championing technology as a business enabler requires many talents, from explaining the 'nuts and bolts' to working closely with finance and customer service. Here are some of the top skills that your CEO wants you to have today.

It's never been a more challenging time to be a CIO as technology becomes ubiquitous and crucial if organisations are to stay competitive.

This means strategic chief executives are starting to become very selective about the person steering technology strategies — one of the largest ships in their fleet — so IT leaders should come prepared to please as they step up to the helm.

Here are some of the top skills that CEOs value in a CIO today.

Understand business goals

Unsurprisingly, to enable business strategy, CEOs want their CIOs to know the business goals. If the CIO is invited to sit at the executive table, he or she must understand what the other leaders hope to accomplish.

"I've worked with successful CIOs because of their appreciation of what the CEO was trying to do, and their appreciation of IT as a factor for growth in the company, not IT as an entity that's about just technology," says Sharmila Shahani-Mulligan, CEO of ClearStory Data.

This also means contributing your own strategic planning by factoring in current and future technology trends, ensuring the company doesn't waste time on investments that will make a difference today, and not tomorrow.

"It's really important that CIOs are able to operate in the strategy space and be able to look at what's going to be coming over the horizon, as the CIO is often the only person who's equipped to make predictions about technology trends two to three years out,' says Robert Hillard, managing partner, consulting with Deloitte.

Online shoe retailer, Shoes of Prey was founded by Jodie Fox, Michael Fox and Mike Knapp, the last of which also heads up IT. Jodie Fox, also director of fashion, says Knapp's alignment with the founders and the overall business goals creates an "amicable relationship" between leadership and IT.

"What makes [Mike] great is that he is incredibly entrepreneurial and united behind the thought that we need to get to the best outcome for the business," Jodie Fox says. "He's also avidly interested in other parts of the business and cares enormously and equally about each part being the best it can be.

"Ultimately, business leaders want IT heads to be working with them to look for the best solution possible. IT is so critical to being able to execute on the strategy of a business. And when the strategy doesn't understand the execution, it's never ever a pretty ending," she adds.

People management and customer service

As technology moves from back office to front office, the CEO will want a CIO that is practiced in soft skills, whether it is with their on premise teams, third party vendors, or their customers in the line-of-business (LOB) and beyond.

 

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