Curated and edited by @SimonCocking.

Presenting a guest blog post By J.M. Auron founder of Quantum Tech Resumes on what makes a good CIO in 2015.

The CIO (Chief Information Officer) role is undergoing a very significant transformation. 18 months after seeing article after article on the “Death of the CIO,” it’s now clear the CIO is a more critical, more respected, and more fully integrated business executive than ever before. The CIO is, finally, recognised as a key driver.

The current CIO job description isn’t the person who keeps the lights on – a glorified IT Manager. Today’s CIO is a leader who leverages technology and data to drive business transformation. This is a great thing, because, in my experience, that’s exactly what visionary, strategic CIOs have been looking to do for a very long time now.

Today’s CIO is a key change agent, a go-to person to ensure a smooth interaction between the business and the range of technical solutions that enable consistent growth and expansion in today’s extremely competitive and rapidly evolving marketplace.

But while the CIO role has undergone a major sea-change, the way that CIOs describe what they do hasn’t kept pace with expansion of influence and range of impact.

From my experience working with leading CIOs, you need to describe a proven, effective strategy to communicate who you are, what you have done, and, most importantly, what you will do in the future.

A transformed role requires an equally significant re-visioning in the way you conceptualize and visualize that role and value proposition. There needs to be a very major shift in focus to transform how you communicate what you do, to yourself, to executive peers and the board, and to interviewers for new opportunities.

Regardless of strategic vision and demonstrated business leadership, it’s very easy for any CIO to fall back on tech. It’s too easy, whether speaking with executive peers or in an interview for a new role to focus on the technical details, the processes, and the procedures.

That’s important. But it only goes so far. Fundamentally, every CIO does many of the same things. It’s how those actions are done that differentiates one great leader from another – and that’s absolutely key, both for building credibility in your current role and for determining culture fit with a new organization.

Since IT pros love acronyms, one way to initially conceptualize that shift is through this one: CAR.

That stands for: Challenge, Action, and Results.

Too often, even great, strategic, and visionary CIOs can focus on the actions they perform – the job duties, the responsibilities. Those actions are critical to getting the job done, but they don’t tell a compelling story. Challenge and Action do communicate a story, one that will drive increased investment in innovation in the boardroom – and a superior offer letter after the third interview.

Senior technology executives are recruited to solve very clear, very specific challenges. And different leaders find some challenges interesting, stimulating, and exciting, while other challenges may feel tedious.

You don’t want to be in a position where you’re working 60 or 70 hours a week on challenges which, though business-critical, bore you to tears. Give due thought to the types of challenges that excite you and keep you interested in your job. Do you enjoy making big, rapid organizational changes? Or do you prefer a longer term approach to transformation? Do you enjoy leading big teams or small? Do you find multiple time zones exhilarating or exhausting? Are you leading-edge or bleeding-edge with new technology adoption?

Those questions are critical. Being clear on those challenges will help you spend more of your time working on the things you enjoy, in your current position, and when looking for future opportunities.

The actions at the center of Challenge Action Results  need less comment. Those actions are what most people, even senior executives, think of as their job description. Obviously, they’re important, but whether you’re interviewing or talking to the board, be careful not to use too much technical jargon, keep the details to a necessary minimum. You don’t want your audience’s eyes glazing over.

The most critical component when communicating your value proposition is results. A surprising number of executives can overlook or downplay those results. Often, accomplishments are seen as just “doing the job.” Without those results, the clear, quantifiable achievements you’ve delivered in your career, neither the board nor your C-level peers will understand what you’ve done.

This is a recipe for unpleasantness, and can be one of the key reasons that technology executives feel undervalued. You see what you’ve done. Your team sees what you’ve done. You know the hours and the sweat it’s taken. But, since great technology is often in the background, your peers may not see what you’ve done.

For more ideas on communicating CIO career value, check out my blog at

J.M. Auron, ACRW

(719) 425-8980 (Office)
[email protected]com

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