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Network World


The new CTO role could by your answer to professional discrimination.

If your company has added a CTO position to its senior management designations, you may have an avenue for career growth. Technical savoir-faire, the element that works against network professionals reaching for CIO roles, works in your favor when applying for CTO, recruiters say.

"A CTO supports everything and is a highly technical executive," says Gina Schiller, a CIO recruiting specialist for JB Homer Associates in New York. "Some infrastructure professionals go for the CTO job, especially if they don't want to give up the day-to-day work with technology."

A CTO typically works in conjunction with the CIO, sometimes reporting to the CIO or sometimes acting as a peer. The CTO examines new technologies for corporate use, sets technological direction and implements projects approved by the CIO, while the CIO figures out the budget, allocates resources and prioritizes projects.

If your company doesn't have a CTO position, you might convince upper management to create it for your next promotion. This is especially possible in companies that view IT as a profit-and-loss center.

If this is your goal, express your interest in taking on CTO responsibilities at your next review, explaining how you would craft the position. Emphasize the ways you could relieve the CIO's burdens.

However, if your company still thinks of IT as an overhead albatross, odds are against you in getting a CTO slot created. Your best chance for long-term career growth may be with another company, says Allan Grossman, senior partner for A. Davis Grant & Company, a recruiting firm in Edison, N.J.

For some people, CTO is a career height in its own right. For others, its improved visibility makes it an excellent stepping stone to even bigger promotions.

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