How to move ahead: six career tips for digital leaders

Teacher writing on blackboardCIO positions in digitally advanced companies are much sought-after roles filled by talented executives with a broad range of skills and experiences. And these individuals report very high levels of job satisfaction. For those working toward joining their ranks, the characteristics shared by digital-ready CIOs offer some important lessons.

CIOs in digitally advanced companies like their jobs. EY’s 2014 report, Born to be digital, revealed that 64% of CIOs in digital-ready enterprises enjoy their roles so much that they’re happy to stay in them, or would only move to similar jobs in a larger organizations.

Digital-ready CIOs are more likely to be satisfied with their career-development potential, more likely to be happy with how colleagues perceive their role, and more likely to feel they have an influence on their company’s strategy.

All of which begs an obvious question: how do CIOs of the future work toward a role where satisfaction levels are so high?

The answer is to follow the example set by those digital leaders who have already made the grade. Many share a number of characteristics that have clearly been crucial in helping them get this far in their careers – and in helping their businesses get a head start on digital transformation.

In particular, EY’s research with leading CIOs at digitally advanced organizations reveals:

  • Digital-ready CIOs are open to taking advice and trying out new ideas
    Digital transformation requires a willingness to innovate and constantly add to the knowledge base. This explains why CIOs in digitally advanced companies strive to keep an open mind about new ideas – they’re also happy to experiment with projects that are not guaranteed to succeed.
  • Digital-ready CIOs are determined to acquire management skills
    One in two CIOs in digitally advanced companies has a degree in business, and many have MBAs. These CIOs have long recognized that competency in the technology element of their roles is not all they need for success – a grasp of the broader business strategy and how IT can support that work is also crucial.
  • Digital-ready CIOs are willing to leave their home turf
    Many CIOs in digitally advanced companies have spent time working on international assignments. These expatriate roles have given them a broader and deeper understanding of their businesses.
  • Digital-ready CIOs are keen to learn from other disciplines
    The majority of CIOs in digitally advanced companies hold at least a Masters-level degree, but very often in a field outside IT – anything from engineering to physics.
  • Digital-ready CIOs have cross-sector experience
    CIOs in digitally advanced companies have often worked in a several industries, rather than focusing on one specific sector. They may also broaden their experience with external advisory or non-executive directorship posts, whether at think tanks, in the public sector or at another commercial organization.
  • Digital-ready CIOs are happy to move post regularly
    Those CIOs who take advantage of this broad array of opportunities automatically find themselves changing jobs fairly regularly. CIOs in digitally advanced companies are much more likely to have been in their posts for less than three years.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, all of these tips for success fit within a common theme: digital-ready CIOs remain willing to learn and are constantly seeking out new skills and experiences.

What are you going to learn today?


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