Often, aspiring Chief Information Officers (CIO) have the skills and abilities to develop creative solutions to business problems, but are lacking vital elements that will be needed to break into the C-Suite.

If you have been involved in a comprehensive high-level IT project or perhaps you have broad IT experience and want to progress to the C-Suite, these tips will point you in the right direction.


To reach the C-Suite, the chances are you will need a Bachelor’s in Computer Science or related field. You will also need an MBA or a similar Masters degree in computer science or management information systems. These are standard across industry and voluntary organisations and without this level of education, you can’t really expect to land a CIO role.

As a CIO project management will form a large part of the position. It is a good idea to take project management courses such as Project Management Professional (PMP), to sure up your skills and to show you have an understanding of the concept.

Working towards these qualifications can be done part time either via online and distance learning, or attending a college part time.

IT Governance and Risk Management

It is essential that you start to understand and grasp the concepts of IT Governance and Risk Management and after you have a year or two experience under your belt, it is also an idea to sure up your experience with certification. All CIO roles require a comprehensive knowledge of this aspect of IT.

Demonstrating the Worth of IT to Senior Management Level

When working at board level, often you have to be able to sell IT to your immediate colleagues and CEO. A good mindset to get into is showing how the IT change or upgrade led to an increase in tangible aspects of the business such as sales, or survey results showing aspects such as customer satisfaction. IT is essential to business and if you can learn to sell it now, you will be in good shoes once you reach the C-Suite.

Learn to Develop Technology Strategies

Technology strategy is no longer about maintaining current versions but using it in creative ways to bring value to the business. It is about making it work at ground level and increasingly, it is about being able to drill down into data and retrieve business intelligence. Start to develop a mindset which accommodates and utilises this to create dynamic strategies that serve the business.

Leadership and Strategic Communication

All CIOs need to be able to lead and lead in a crisis. IT is one area where a business may be attacked maliciously and good CIOs not only have a crisis management plan ready to deploy, they are able to think on their feet when they need to, and be able to impart their vision for IT in the business.

The higher up the ladder you go the less actual hands on work you will do. Your role will evolve into managing others and projects. You will need to understand the business and the role your part of it plays within it. This will help you focus resources where they are needed and you should think about the best ways to explain concepts and ideas.