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DNA of a CIO

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What does it take to become a Chief Information Officer?

Today’s Chief Information Officers are not boxed in as IT managers. They have gained a reputation as executives who provide business solutions.

They have a genuine desire to be involved in business improvement, and are in a unique position to act as a link between business strategy and IT strategy.

Those who reach the top job all possess a similar ‘DNA’. They take different paths on their way to CIO, and so this DNA emerges only when we look at their skills, attitudes and passions.

Our ‘DNA of a CIO’ report gives aspiring CIOs an insight into what it takes to achieve a leading role in Information Technology in Australia and New Zealand. It is based on one-on-one interviews with 243 IT leaders as well as additional in-depth interviews with seven top CIOs, whose unique insights are shared throughout our report.

If you are considering your career options and want to become a CIO, our report will give you an insight into what it takes. And if you are already a CIO, or well on your way to becoming one, we hope you find what your peer group have to say about success to be interesting and engaging.

Key Findings

Background and qualifications

31% have a degree in Information Technology, Computer Science or Systems, followed by a Masters of Business Administration (MBA, 25%), a Masters (21%) and a Business, Commerce or Finance degree (20%).

53% of CIOs hold IT certifications or have undertaken additional IT qualifications


Four in ten (40%) have always worked in IT. 44% 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.

30% have worked for more than five employers and another 30% have worked for four to five.

Develop soft skills

CIOs describe themselves as adaptive (54%), hard working (49%), proactive (48%) and collaborative (48%). 57% advise the next generation of CIOs to get involved with the business rather than just the technology.

People management (52%), stakeholder engagement (43%), commercial acumen (26%), communication (also 26%) and innovation (21%) skills are all considered more important than technical knowledge (16%).

Ongoing professional development

71% of CIOs have attended networking events in the last two years. The most popular methods of networking with other CIOs are at industry or technical events (75%), followed by networking events (63%) and online via social media (50%).

Of all CIOs surveyed, 92% said they are using LinkedIn.

A passion for people

All of the CIOs we spoke to had high praise for the talent in Australia and New Zealand’s IT industry. For most of them, working with IT people is one of the best things about being a CIO, and it is this passion for people that is the final piece of their DNA.

Outside of work 73% of those surveyed said the number one thing they do in their spare time is spending time with family.

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