Successful CIOs are no longer senior executives who have spent their career in IT and technology chiefs are now firmly entrenched in senior management ranks.
These were key findings from Hays Information Technology's DNA of a CIO report, which stressed that today's CIOs are not boxed in as IT managers, but rather people who can provide business solutions.
The recruiter interviewed 243 IT leaders in Australia and New Zealand who say they have a genuine desire to be involved in business improvement and are in a unique position to act as a link between IT and business strategy.
This means there's no 'box ticking' approach to reaching the top job and CIOs need to gain a broad base of experience inside and outside IT.
Almost half (44 per cent) of the respondents started out in another role before spending the majority of their career in IT. Once they enter IT, it usually takes 11 years or more to reach CIO.
22 per cent of respondents had 16 to 20 years experience and 15 per cent had more than 21 years before becoming a CIO.
Further, 30 per cent have worked for more than five employers, and only 15 per cent sit on the board of their current organisation.
Peter Noblet, senior regional director of Hays Information Technology, said rapid advancements in communications and technology have accelerated the CIO's move into the management ranks.
"As a result, the role of the CIO has quickly evolved. Technical expertise plays a significant role but other softer skills associated with business management have risen in prominence.
"That's why to reach CIO, you need to add soft skills to a technical foundation. These include communication, people management, stakeholder engagement, commercial acumen and innovation.
"You must also undertake ongoing professional development, and finally, you need to be passionate about people. Our survey shows it takes time, and often roles with several employers, to gain these skills.
"Doing so allows IT professionals to come to understand how technology can serve a business by unlocking potential, improving efficiencies and streamlining processes," he said.
The IT leaders surveyed have degrees in information technology, computer science or systems (31 per cent), business, commerce or finance (20 per cent), while 25 per cent have a Masters of Business Administration (MBA).
53 per cent of CIOs hold IT certifications or have undertaken additional IT qualifications.
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