Should CIOs be hired from business? Arindam Singha Roy, CIO, East India Udyog, shares his perspective...
Any CXO position is a combination of expertise and added layers of “big picture thinking” ability and leadership. A CIO/CISO without a strong IT background is a Chief Operating Officer , or a Chief Executive Officer maybe. The balanced C-level team requires various perspectives; for instance, possessing a technical perspective for a CIO/CISO is paramount. He/she should be able to articulate the IT position and vision. Strategic and business thinking is one side of the coin for a CIO/CISO.
If you hire a CIO/CISO without the requisite technical experience when it comes to handling critical and multi-headed responsibilities, IT is then managed by someone who isn't technology oriented, who then proves ineffective, open to vendor manipulation, and is maybe, disrespectful to the staff. He/she steadily starts acquiring a ‘herding cats' mentality on technology matters.
I think what makes it complicated is the fact that IT is the only department that is both staff and line. For instance, Finance is staff only while Sales is line only. But, the leader of IT is both a staff person (support) and often a line person (e.g. runs the bit factory). It is because of this unique role that he/she needs dual experience. The CIO/CSO needs to know what is right and wrong on projects, what works and doesn’t. In the end, it is the CIO who has to buy off on the recommendations of their reports.
In conclusion, a CIO should come from the heart of the IT community, but must be business focused as well.