What does a Chief Information Officer (CIO) do?
A Chief Information Officer (CIO) manages a company's IT and technology needs. They play a big part in helping enterprises navigate their way through digital changes. One example is transitioning into using cloud technologies after years of working with local servers.
CIOs also help businesses adopt new technologies. Some of the modern challenges a CIO may face include using the Internet of Things (IoT) and evaluating related security challenges to the company they work for.
Although there are parallels between a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and CIO role, there are also some differences. One of the main similarities is that both require business acumen to succeed. However, a CTO is primarily focused on technology for external growth, such as developing technology for products to sell; a CIO is more internally focused on the company's infrastructure.
Chief Information Officer (CIO) responsibilities
- Developing customer service platforms
- Adopting technologies that are in line with a business's growth and objectives
- Adopting new technologies while ensuring they don't introduce risks to the company they represent
- Creating IT policies and maintaining standards
- Developing IT strategies that dovetail with the business's growth
- Managing a team of IT personnel
- Mentoring IT personnel
- Reporting directly to CEOs and directors
- Adopting co-founder positions, in some cases
- Planning business growth objectives with regards to technology
Who does a Chief Information Officer (CIO) report to?
CIOs usually report to the CEOs of the companies they work for. Additionally, they may be expected to sit in on meetings with the board of directors, so they can present their plans and proposals.
Depending on the company they work for, some CIOs are board members themselves.
What skills does an Chief Information Officer (CIO) need to have?
- Change management
- Stakeholder management
- Strategic planning
- Project management
- Commercial acumen & budgeting
Chief Information Officer (CIO) Qualifications
At a minimum, CIOs need a bachelor's degree in information technology or a related field. However, a growing number of organisations now want their candidates to hold a postgraduate qualification too. As a lot of CIOs are involved in the management side of the business they work for. Therefore an MBA with a focus on technology also proves useful.
Most CIOs will spend around a decade working in their initial role before moving on to become a manager (see also career path information, below). Once they're a manager, they'll need to spend a few years gathering experience in that role too.
Information technology management, project management, and computer information systems disciplines also prove useful for those wanting to pursue this career path. While gathering managerial experience, prospective CIOs should focus on involving themselves in other aspects of the business too, such as budgeting and learning how general business goals intersect with IT.
What is the career path for a Chief Information Officer (CIO)?
Most CIOs start out by earning a bachelor's degree in a relevant field. Such degrees could include computer science or information technology.
From there, CIOs begin their career in a lower-level IT role:
- Software development manager
- Software architect
- Software engineer
- Project manager
The list above isn't exclusive. However, prospective CIOs will be expected to gain experience in risk management, IT business and ethics, intellectual property and rights, privacy, cybercrime, and information security.
After working in a lower-tier IT role, prospective CIOs need to gaining experience by moving into a managerial position. It usually takes a few years of building experience as a manager before they reach the CIO phase.
Who reports to a Chief Information Officer?
Various members of IT staff at organisations report to the Chief Information Officer. Additionally, if the company in question uses a managed services provider, the CIO may find themselves directing them too. The CIO may also play a role in determining which managed services provider their company uses.
What business skills does a CIO need?
Chief Information Officers are becoming increasingly more involved in steering their company's future. Because of this, they need to refine their marketing and sales skills. Many have to work within a budget too, which makes budget management essential. Finally, CIOs need to learn to make decisions that are future focused but still relevant to their company's current operations.
Can CIOs benefit from working with a startup?
There are lots of advantages to beginning a CIO career with a startup. A lot of startups will welcome CIOs as co-founders. Although this means there's a lot of work involved, it can do wonders for the candidate's CV. If they plan to remain in the business, the autonomy they hold will allow them to become key decision makers as their career evolves. If they choose to move elsewhere, they can use the experience they've gained to get an edge over candidates applying for top-level companies. There's also the possibility of making extra money with a startup if the business goes public.
Do all CIOs need a postgraduate degree?
Although it isn't necessary for CIOs to hold a postgraduate degree, it can give them a competitive edge. This is especially the case when they're applying for positions at top companies or within higher pay scales. Typical postgraduate degrees may build on their undergraduate qualification; they might focus on project management, or they could involve an MBA. A small number of CIOs will go into research-based MScs, or they might pursue a PhD. Again, those degrees need to focus on both technology and the managerial aspects of their prospective role.
Why might an MBA be necessary for a CIO?
CIOs are becoming increasingly more involved in business management as well as IT. Although they can gain a lot of overall managerial experience when they move past mid-level positions, they may not grasp the finer aspects of running a business. An MBA allows prospective CIOs to further their business acumen when their existing role isn't giving them everything they need. However, it's important not to see it as a replacement for managerial experience.
What are some of the biggest challenges a CIO may face?
CIOs play a big role in risk management and combating cyber crime. As a result, they may find themselves trying to strike the right balance between keeping their company safe and furthering its business aims. They also need to remain constantly aware of the ways threats against their organisation are changing. Additionally, they'll take responsibility for making sure those who work under them are up to date with the latest challenges too.
How much does a Chief Information Officer (CIO) earn?
Depending on their level of experience and seniority, CIO's can earn between AUD130k and AUD350k per year in a permanent role.
This salary guide is a compilation of salary and market information provided by Hudson consultants, clients, candidates and other sources across Australia. Information was gathered by drawing on the extensive knowledge of our specialist recruitment consultants across Hudson's specialist practice groups. Salary ranges are approximate guides only.
They relate to base salaries and exclude superannuation/bonuses/incentive schemes/stock options.