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Tips from a day in the life of 4 CIOs

John Brandon | Aug. 26, 2015
The role of a modern CIO is as misunderstood as it is important. So we asked a few of them to take us through a typical day. Here, four IT leaders share their tips, tricks and daily routines.

guy driving talking on phone

Being the senior-most executive responsible for all the technology running a company these days isn’t easy. There are times when it seems like you can’t wrap your arms around the most pressing technical issues or meet with enough staff members to develop the strategies your business demands to stay competitive. We spoke to four CIOs of very different organizations who have figured out a good game plan to deal with the complexity. They’ve shared their daily routine as a way to explain how they manage their time…and gave us some valuable tips along the way.

 1. Aditya Fotedar – Nexenta

aditya fotedar nexenta

Aditya Fotedar is the CIO for a data storage company, but he starts each day on the phone talking with his team about projects and product launches. This includes work related to marketing, security, infrastructure, business applications and new products. He always talks to finance to get a level-set on any projects related to accounting operations. One unusual twist is that, on some mornings, he holds pro bono meetings with people from San Jose State University and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation to guide them on their technical plans. 

By the afternoon, Fotedar switches to more meetings and discussions about company direction, which often involves discussion about documentation and technical plans. A big part of his afternoon is spent attending meetings outside of the IT department, such as sales team meetings. He typically finishes the day poring over status reports on systems and security. “As the CIO, I really touch almost every area of the business, each day,” he says. 

Most important tip: End the day by creating action items for the next day. 

2. Jason Smylie – Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop

jason smylie capriottis sandwich shop

This highly dispersed company (100 sandwich shops in 16 states) requires a more intentional approach. Jason Smylie says he always has to start the day creating a schedule for himself. His very next action is related to his inbox. He always gets to “inbox zero” but does not answer emails at all – he prioritizes them and makes a to-do list. This also helps him plan out his day. He spend the mornings meeting with his team, staff, vendors and other execs. 

One interesting tidbit: Since Capriotti’s is a restaurant chain, he sometimes finds a way to help with product testing. Interestingly, he almost always leaves the office for lunch. He closes the day by making sure he’s answered every high-priority email. “The end of the day is the best time to do this because if you get a quick response back, your day isn't derailed by things that our outside of your control and you can best stay focused on your priorities,” he says. 


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