Sitting on the opposite end on the board room table, CIOs need to understand the type of organization they will be joining. Having been on the other end several times, it is important to get a sense that you will be valuable as a CIO and most importantly have job satisfaction. Below are a few questions I think can help.
- What is your company’s mission and vision? What steps are you taking to accomplish them?
- Can you explain your company’s brand and how it has evolved?
- Can you describe your company’s growth (or lack there of) in terms of revenue and hiring over the last 5-10 years?
- What do you think distinguishes this company from its competitors, both from a public and employee perspective? How is technology used by your competitors? How is a CIO role used by your competitors?
- Can you explain your company’s structure and how a CIO role will fit in?
- How do you see the CIO role contributing to the success of the organization?
- Is this a new CIO position, or did someone leave? If someone left, why did they leave? If this is a new position why are you looking for a CIO now?
- How would you describe the company’s culture and leadership philosophy and style? Could you describe the type of employee who fits well with it?
- What are some of the technical problems facing your staff, and how to do you see the CIO role solving it?
- How is the technology department perceived today? What past steps have been taken to correct this perception? What steps were successful or not?
- What steps have the company done recently to show how it values its technology?
- How does management view the CIO role and the importance of the IT department?
- What is the company’s plan for the next five plus years, and how does the IT department fit into these plans?
- How do other executives view IT? As a Business Peer/Game changer or Service Provider/Cost Center?
- How have various types of decisions been made (i.e. M&A, process changes, layoffs, loss of business, risks, new business)?
- How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom? How often?
- What would you say are the five most important skills/traits needed to excel in this position?
- What particular achievements would equate to success in this role? What would success look like?
- What challenges will this role face? What advice will you give to succeed?
- Are you most interested in a candidate who works independently, on a team, cross-functionally, or through a combination of them all?
- What is your ideal communication style? Do you meet regularly with your team, rely heavily on e-mail, use status reports or work primarily through other means?
- How much guidance or assistance is made available to employees in developing career goals?
- What resources will be available to the CIO to ensure success?
- How do you see me as a candidate for the job in comparison with an ideal candidate?
- Do you have any concerns about me or about my qualifications that may prevent you from selecting me for the role?
As I look for a new role that is suitable to my experience and background, I often get rejection letters. At first I would delete them but I decided to keep them and periodically review them. Not that I am angry over being rejected. Contrary, rejection letters just make me have thicker skin.
Getting a rejection letter is better then the black hole of no response.
Here are a few of my rejection letters. (Names have been deleted.)
You were impressive but not impressive enough—
Dear Arun Manansingh,
Thank you for taking the time to send your resume and cover letter for consideration for our position for Manager, IT at xxx. We received many applications and while your qualifications and experience are impressive, there were candidates who more closely matched our needs.
We appreciate your interest in the xxx. We will maintain your resume on file and suggest that you check our career site and apply for job postings that you are passionate about and for which you qualify.
We would also like to invite you to remain informed about the work that xxx is doing. The best ways to do that are on our website, or other social media detailed below for example, Facebook and Twitter.
Again, thank you for applying. We wish you all the best.
Again you were impressive but we want to continue looking —
Thank you for the interest you have expressed in employment with xxx IT for the position of Sr Director IT Service Management. Although your experience is impressive, our hiring team has decided to continue the search.
At this time, your resume will be retained for at least one year in our database. You will be contacted in the event our employment needs should change. We also encourage you to visit our website as new positions become available.
We appreciate your interest in our company and wish you success in your search.
We thought you were a match but now you are not—
Thank you for submitting your resume for our Chief Information Officer position, and for your interest in our firm.
Your qualifications have been reviewed, and although they are impressive, we do not feel that they are a match for our current opportunity.
We are sure your credentials and abilities will lead to other excellent opportunities, and we wish you every success in your career.
Don’t call us we will call you—
Hi Arun, Thank you for your interest in the VP, Technology & Operations role for xxx. We have received your information and if there is interest in moving forward with your candidacy we will be reaching out to you in the next few weeks. Thank you for your patience in our reply, as we had many applications for this impactful opening on our team.
You didn’t get the job. Here is who did—
Thank you for your application for the position of Chief Information Officer for the xxx. Interviews for the position were held in early March.
Xxx officials have appointed Ms. xxx as their next Chief Information Officer. Ms. xxx has most recently served as a Manager of IT Infrastructure and Operations. Prior to that, she worked in the IT field as a Director for more than 12 years. Ms. xxx has a Master’s degree in Communication System Strategy & Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics.
Although you were not selected for this position, the xxx and GovHR xxx want to thank you for your interest and effort in competing for this position. We extend our best wishes for continued success in your professional endeavors.
Please feel free to stay in touch with our office regarding professional opportunities in the future.
You were not qualified—
Thank you for your application for the CTO/SVP, Architecture, Engineering & Technology search we are doing at xxx. After reviewing your background, we have concluded that there are other candidates better qualified for this role. That said, thank you for your time in contacting us.
There were too many qualified CIOs —
Thank you for your interest and for taking the time to speak with us about the CIO role at xxx. We were impressed with your experience, but you were one of many qualified candidates whom we considered for this position. Therefore, we will not be proceeding with your candidacy for this role at this time.
We wish you the best of luck in your future career, and thank you again for considering an opportunity with xxx.
Not holding my breadth —
We received your application for employment with xxx for the position below.
Job Title: Chief Information Officer
Department: Finance and Administration
Thank you for your interest in our University. The screening and selection
process is currently underway and will continue until a candidate is chosen. If
a decision is made to pursue your candidacy, you will be contacted by the hiring
The role has been frozen for now—
Thank you for your application for the position as CIO, xxx Group.
After careful consideration and with respect for current business priorities, we have decided to continue our interim IT Management solution throughout Q4 2013. Consequently the recruitment process for the CIO position has been postponed. We acknowledge and respect the energy you have put into your candidacy and apologize for any inconvenience in this regard. As the recruitment process may continue in a few months’ time, we kindly ask you to let us know, if you wish to sustain your candidacy for the CIO position. If so, please reply to this email no later than October 1, 2013.
Once again we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Human Resources, Zacco Group
A friend on mine sent this to me as he looks for a CIO role. Thought it was interesting enough to post:
1.Describe your experience in the development, implementation and administration of operating and capital budgets. Please be specific about your role. Include dollar amounts of budget(s).
2.Describe your experience working with executives and/or boards including preparation and presentations of recommendations regarding programs or policies.
3.What do you consider to be the highlight of your career or the most important contribution that you have made to an organization with which you have been employed?
4.The CIO is occasionally involved in disputes between opposing interest groups. Provide an example of your involvement in negotiation or mediation between such groups. Please describe the process you used and the final outcome.
5.What do you see in the arena of technology in the next 3 – 5 years? How would you prepare a company for the changes?
Do you have an employee that does some things really well but other things horrible? I call such employees 50/50.
Question, is it worth keeping such an employee on staff? Do employees like this provide value to a team or are they more trouble than they are worth?
Example, you have an employee that is a great technologist. When there is a fire he is the first one in and resolves the issue. When there are no fires, he struggles or most times does not provide the mundane information to monitor the environment. For example, documentation diagrams, KPIs, etc. So other employees have to pick up the slack.
There have been various methods used to tell this employee what is expected. From goal settings, to individual one-to-one meetings, to plain this is how it needs to be done. Yet very little improvement.
So this begs the question, does this employee’s value in a crisis outweigh his value overall to the team and department?
The other day I was talking to someone outside my line about an IT issue and how best to address. During the course of the conversation the topic turned from business to gossip and then into an attack on a person’s character.
CIOs are privy to a lot of information that we come across during our everyday processes and during executive meetings. That is just the nature of the beast and part of carrying the chief in your title. As the conversation devolved into this maligning gossip I quickly recognized what was occurring and stayed quiet. I was hoping that the person would recognize that one I was uncomfortable and two due to my position could not and should not participate in such talk.
Eventually I had to say that I had no comment on the matter and walked away.
I have zero tolerance for gossip in the work place. When I hear it or get wind of it, I tune out. From my experience gossip sessions have a tendency of sweeping everyone into it like a tsunami. And as it builds momentum your name becomes associated with it indirectly.
It is best in the long-run to stay clear, very clear from it.
Reinvent Your Training Methods by Chris Curran
Available does not equal best by Eric D. Brown
Transitioning IT from a technical focus to a business focus by IT BS Watch
How to Kill Projects and Develop Agile Programs Part 1 by Isaac Sacolick
Free Answers From Google On How CIOs Can Be Better Managers by Jim Anderson
First day on the job as the new CIO you notice 3 envelopes in the top drawer of your desk. The first envelope says “Open Me.” Inside is a note from your predecessor that provides insight on the organization, issues, culture, concerns, etc. You read it, throw it in the trash and go about your business as the new CIO. A year later you’re not happy with the progress of the organization and you remember the second envelope that says “Open me if you are not happy with the way things are going.” You open it and a single word is written on a piece of paper; “Reorganize.” You take the advice this time and spend several months forming teams and reorganizing hoping to get results linked to the business. You call it “IT Transformation.” Another year goes by and things are marginally improving but you are still unhappy with the results. The business is unhappy with IT and the CEO is unhappy due to growing costs. You notice the third envelope that says “Open me if things still are not the way you would like them.” You open it and it says; “Create 3 envelopes.”
The moral of the story is to not get hung up on big transformation projects and reorganization to create yet another organization that is not functional. Make changes in small, manageable pieces and make sure any change is linked to improving the business of IT or the business of your company.
I have a recent master’s graduate on my team who is aspiring to be more. His goal to eventually manage various IT projects outside his core competency which is development. He came to me the other day asking about how he can do more. I gave him the following advice to help him along.
1- Speak Well
The ability to speak to a wide variety of people is essential. Good eye contact, a varied vocabulary and the ability to tailor your language to suit your audience are essential. Practice talking with anyone and everyone you. Being more adept in social situations and being better equipped to network successfully will help you forge working relationships.
Indecision–I hate it and I hate seeing it especially in the workplace. A good leader is decisive. If you are paralyzed by the fear of getting it wrong, you will end up doing nothing, which is worse than trying something and failing. Learn to evaluate different decisions for their pros and cons, and make decisions that will take you closer to completing a given task. The key is to make sure that your decisions are thought out and reasoned. Be confident in your judgment and believe in yourself to get things right.
3- Accept Responsibility
Accept responsibility, both for successes and failures. If you want other people to respect you, acknowledge your errors rather than trying to blame someone else. Everyone makes mistakes, but the real test is how you react to that. Being able to admit you have made a mistake is a sign of humility.
4- Be Positive
Be positive about work and life. A positive attitude is entirely self-determined and can be helped by accentuating the positives in any situation. Don’t see problems; see solutions.
Learn how to present yourself to others. I cannot say enough about grooming. Take pride in your appearance. The way you look enhances the way you feel about yourself, making you more confident.
6- Be Organize
Learn to track projects, meet deadlines, and set schedules. Ideally, you will reach a stage when you can get ahead of the curve and start taking on additional projects and responsibilities.
One of the few analyses that are overlooked in most IT departments is a comprehensive risk assessment.
A risk assessment should identify, analyze, and weigh all the potential risks, threats and hazards to a company’s internal and external business environment.
The process of identifying risks/threats, probability of occurrence, the vulnerability to each risk/threat and the potential impact that could be caused, is necessary to prepare preventative measures and create recovery strategies. Risk identification provides a number of other advantages to a company including:
- Exposes previously overlooked vulnerabilities that need to be addressed by plans and procedures
- Identifies where preventative measures are lacking or need reevaluation
- Can point out the importance of contingency planning to get staff and management on board
- Will assist in documenting interdependencies and point out single points of failures
An effective risk management process is an important component of a company’s MIS department. The principal goal is to protect a company and its ability to perform its mission, not just its IT assets. Therefore, the risk management process should not be treated primarily as a technical function carried out by the IT, but as an essential management function of the organization.
Risk is the net negative impact of the exercise of vulnerability, considering both the probability and the impact of occurrence. Risk management is the process of identifying risk, assessing risk, and taking steps to reduce risk to an acceptable level. This assessment provides a foundation for the development of an effective risk management program, containing both the definitions and the practical guidance necessary for assessing and mitigating risks identified within IT systems. The ultimate goal is to help a company better manage IT-related mission risks.
Better Communication: Technology Isn’t Always The Best Solution by Mike Schaffner
CIO as General Manager? by Mark Brewer
Can a CIO be successful without IT experience? Define your terms! by Peter Kretzman
Four Models for success for the CTO / CIO- CTOVision by Eric Brown
Why CIOs Need Management Power Maps To Get Anything Done by Jim Anderson
How To Cope When The Boss Is A Bully by Andy Blumenthal