What is the CIO's next step on the corporate ladder?

Not all chief information officers see themselves at the pinnacle of their careers. How do you move into a new role in the executive suite?

Nothing builds credibility like execution and delivery. Did you deliver something of value?"

—Tony Young, CIO of Informatica."

You have made it to the executive suite. As CIO, you guide your organization’s IT delivery, policies, and technology strategies for the future. You work with the executive team to influence your company's strategic business plan. Now what?

Tony Young, CIO and senior vice president of Informatica, offers advice on how to move forward in your career.

Q: What is your experience as CIO of Informatica?

A: I’ve been CIO for eight years. I like being CIO and I am not looking for a different role. But I get a lot of energy doing other things, too. I had the opportunity to build our Marketplace business from scratch. Now, I'm based in Beijing, where I am responsible for our business strategy in North Asia, as well as continuing to lead our IT organization. My executive team appreciates the fact that I consider myself more than a CIO.

Many CIOs want to contribute at a different level in a different capacity. A lot of people aspire to be the CIO, become the CIO, and then realize that it’s not the final resting place.

Q: Should a CIO aim to become COO (chief operating officer)?

A: The dreaded COO role! A lot of CIOs think they can become the master of operations. However, if you survey companies, this role does not exist most of the time. You need to decide what core functional area you want to enter: GM, sales, marketing, product development, manufacturing, etc., and build your strategy to enter one of these roles.

Q: So what is the next step in a CIO’s career path?

A: I do not think there is a natural dovetailing for the CIO role into other roles. You have to build up your résumé. Look for experience within your own company. The risk is greater outside of your company.

Say your résumé looks great but you do not have sales experience. You need to show that you can bring in revenue. What is the easiest way to do that? Leave your job and go into sales? Or find a small role that lets you get sales experience while you are still the CIO?

Q: What else can a CIO do to grow his or her career?

A: Join an advisory board. I have been on seven advisory boards for other companies. It is a great way to get experience with other CEOs as well as get exposure to other areas of the business and build opportunities outside of your company.

Also, create your own personal board of directors who you can rely on for career guidance—people in different industries, in different functional roles, and higher up the chain than you. It is more natural than having a single mentor for career advice.


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