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When I Grow Up . . .


By Allan Holmes September 3, 2010

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In a recent article on how chief information officers can become part of an organization's senior leadership team (rather than an order taker who makes sure the e-mail or data center doesn't go down), quotes Tom Davenport, professor of management and information technology at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass.:

I hardly get anybody ever who wants to be a CIO, which is probably indicative of something. And if they do want to be a CIO, it's like: "Fine, it'd be useful to rotate through this for a while on my path toward CEO." I think people respect technology, but there aren't that many people anymore who want to be career CIOs.

Of the CIOs in the federal government, how many set out to become a CIO, or did you just fall into it? And for those who were appointed by President Obama, how many really wanted to that CIO post, and if so, when did it occur to you that you did?

I think Davenport has something here. The CIO isn't something an executive, or business student, dreams of being. It's not the traditional path to a high level leadership position, unlike, say, the chief financial officer job. And it still is weighed down by the characterization of the propeller head.


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