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10 Traits Companies Are Looking for in a CIO

CIO and staff

The chief information officer is the person responsible for a company’s computer systems and network as well as the information technology professionals who maintain them. A competent IT strategy can facilitate efficient processes and keep a company secure and competitive. CIOs act as the interface between IT staff and the executive team. To achieve this end effectively, CIOs need to be able to take on many roles. Here are 10 traits top companies and expert executive recruiters look for in a great CIO.

Strong Leadership

Leaders inspire and bring out the best in their teams. They act as role models for their reports and take accountability for all that falls under their domain. As a member of the executive team, a CIO must have the focus, integrity, and vision to lead others.

Quality Relationships

A C-level officer lacking in interpersonal skills can cause dysfunction at the highest level of the company. That’s why it’s important for CIOs to have the ability to build trust and foster understanding with both the IT professionals they oversee and the other company leaders they work alongside.

Technological Expertise

General knowledge of the field of information and communication technology is essential for any CIO. Experience with specific technologies such as data storage, e-commerce and online infrastructure can be desirable depending on the industry. More broadly, companies are looking for a CIO who knows how to implement IT strategies that align with the needs of the business.

Business Acumen

In addition to their IT specialization, a successful CIO should also learn about other aspects of business, including sales, logistics, finance and marketing. Companies want to hire a CIO who demonstrates the drive and competence to understand the company’s business model and specific industry in depth.

Communication Skills

Strong communication skills, both written and verbal, are useful in the many different roles a CIO must play. From company emails to public speeches, they should be able to articulate ideas in a clear and effective way.

Management Experience

CIOs spend much of their time on management tasks like allocating resources, developing personnel, supervising projects, and setting clear priorities for their division of the company. A good CIO should have a proven track record of delivering results within budget and timeframe constraints.

Industry Knowledge

When companies are trying to hire a new CIO, they examine each candidate’s industry-specific experience. Some businesses are looking for officers from different economic sectors to bring new ideas into the fold. Others are seeking a CIO with previous roles in the same field.

Adaptable Strategies

In a fast-moving field like IT, it’s crucial for CIOs to be able to foster change when needed. Flexibility and a commitment to constant improvement are traits that will keep a company competitive and agile.

Team Building

A CIO is typically involved in hiring members of the IT team and developing their talents and skill sets to create a productive and cohesive team. The ability to recognize and retain quality employees is an invaluable skill for a C-level officer to have.

International Awareness

In order to succeed in our globalized world, companies need leaders who are open-minded towards other cultures and their way of conducting business. Sometimes this means experience with a specific country or language, but more often, there’s a desire for CIOs to have a general awareness of issues regarding diversity and cultural differences.

Companies need a strong IT strategy aligned with their business goals if they would like to remain secure and relevant in today’s increasingly technological marketplace. An excellent CIO can help achieve those objectives by employing IT solutions that address business problems and pursue opportunities for improvement.


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