A few weeks ago, I posted a blog rich with career advice from leading CIOs. The blog was a hit, so I am at it again. Herewith: round two of career advice from CIOs!
Jody Davids, Former CIO of Best Buy
IT is the place where everything comes together, so we see things through a different lens than other executives. From our unique vantage point, we are able to spot business opportunities, trends, and cultural issues that impact the organization, which other executives may not see. So, it is wise to remember, as CIO, that your influence expands way outside your functional area.
"We have a big seat at the table, a big voice in the company, and we need to be heard. It is our responsibility to say what needs to be said."
Probably the biggest learning in my role as CIO of Best Buy is how much the rest of the organization needs to hear what we have to say. We often get so focused on doing our job operationally, or making sure our projects are on track, that we forget that we have a big seat at the table, a big voice in the company, and we need to be heard. It is our responsibility to say what needs to be said.
Leslie Jones, CIO of Motorola Solutions
I have two pieces of advice for future CIOs. First, always think like a general manager, not like a CIO. If you think like a GM, you will avoid becoming too fascinated with technology for technology's sake or investing the company's dollars in nothing but technology projects.
Ask yourself, "Does this technology advance my business goals, yes or no? Is this money better spent in IT or someplace else? If we have X millions of dollars to spend, should we fund another IT program or are we better off strengthening the marketing group in Asia?"
It goes back to my mantra, "We are in the business. Our field just happens to be IT."
The second piece of career advice is something that I learned during my previous career in academics, just before I was getting ready to take my doctoral exams. I was having lunch with my advisor and I was a little nervous. He asked me what was wrong and I said, "What happens if I fail my orals?" And he looked at me and said, "Would you kill yourself?" And I said, "Well, no. I guess I'd go home and have a stiff drink and start studying again." And he said, "Well, there you are."
This was an absolutely eye opening experience for me. If you fail at something in business, is it life threatening? No. Will it disappoint you? Sure. But it's not going to kill you. So, go for broke, because nobody learns from success. And the truth is, if you never fail, you're not stretching yourself enough. If you go into every decision with the assumption that failure will not kill you, you will embrace more radical solutions than if you were concerned about safety nets. You will stretch yourself and your organization further than you ever thought possible.
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