JB HOMER Retained Executive Search, specializing in executive search for technology and operations talent in a global market

Press Release - December 7, 2012


As we continue to broaden our conversation with the leaders of our information technology community, Louis Gerzofsky, JB Homer's Director of Information Technology Recruiting recently interviewed a CEO who shared his thoughts regarding his successful transition from CIO to CEO. I invite you to take a few moments to consider Louis's article as you develop your goals for next year, and beyond.


Question: What other group in the C-Suite possesses the intellectual bandwidth, enterprise exposure and knowledge of the 21st century's most important force multiplier - technology - to position them as the next wave of executives to run America's corporations? I contend it's the CIO's.

I recently conducted interviews with CEO's who had successfully made the leap from CIO. The following remarks are drawn from one of these conversations. This individual had only recently been named to his post so he asked me to keep his name confidential:

"When I decided that I wanted to eventually run a company, my first priority was to create an inventory of my professional and personal strengths and weaknesses as well as the challenges and specific tasks that I most enjoyed.

Next I started to organize my 'CEO of the future' team: I asked a few trusted people from my most immediate professional and personal circles (a former mentor, a peer, an ex-boss and a close friend) the very same questions that I posed to myself. I added their responses to my personal inventory file.

I started conducting my own research into the backgrounds of business leaders whom I've admired over the years, both within my industry and outside of it. I also did some research on LinkedIn, as well as a few other websites devoted to business leaders, to learn from the profiles of people who had been information technology executives before they earned the top spot.

Now I was beginning to form a picture of the people who had successfully made the leap, and what their career paths looked like on the way up the ladder. I noticed certain common traits and activities among this select group and I made up my mind to add as many of these traits and activities to my 'career portfolio'.

For example: Most of them appeared to be extremely proficient public speakers and inveterate 'joiners'. Sure, they were members of all the right CIO professional groups -- but they had also made an effort to move beyond the IT executive community into groups and associations that existed outside the confines of information technology. In other words, this group made it their business to know and be known by a wide variety of business and public leaders.

My research also highlighted a somewhat startling statistic: Among corporate boards, only 1 to 2% of their members come from the ranks of the IT executive community. And, most of those boards were advising technology companies. Very few of America's corporate boards have members who are technologists. That says to me that there are few people on corporate boards who can effectively evangelize in behalf of information technology.

With this new information, I immediately started to inquire into boards that I could join -- 'baby steps', if you will. At first, the boards I joined were for small non-profits or local, community oriented organizations or small, start-ups that friends of mine were running. But within a fairly short amount of time, my fellow board members started asking me if I had the time and interest in joining one or two of the boards they were on, and that was my ticket to the boards of two midsized companies that I presently am a member of, both of which are outside of my industry. The CEO's and other board members really seem to appreciate the technology perspective that I bring to our discussions.

Lastly, I recently retained an executive coach, who in addition to helping me define and hone my professional goals and skill set, is also working with me on my professional image, covering everything from how I dress to my public speaking skills to how I conduct myself in meetings. I'm even considering taking up yoga or training for a marathon for their stress management benefits.

There's quite a bit more on my agenda as I embark on the next stage of my professional life. But overall, I know that I've successfully managed my career towards a specific and awesome goal. In sum, before I became the CEO of a company, I first decided to become the CEO of my career."

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What do you think are the opportunities and roadblocks ahead for CIO's who are targeting a CEO chair for themselves? Is it a question of individual preparation or do you think more changes need to come about in the general corporate environment before CIO's can realistically set their sights on running entire corporations? Contact me (Louis Gerzofsky) via our Online Contact Form.

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