Tag Archives: Chief Information Officer

From IT Support to CIO

michelle

 

Michelle Griffiths
ITS Project Manager
IT Services
University of Oxford
Member of UCISA-PCMG

 

A journey of three women

This session  was a panel discussion session where each of the panel members gave their views to the audience in response to a number of questions. The session started with a poll to establish how many of the audience had career aspirations to become a Chief Information Officer (CIO).

The panel consisted of: Melody Childs (Associate Provost and CIO, University of Alabama in Huntsville), Cathy O’Bryan (Director, Client Support, Indiana University Bloomington), Wendy Woodward (Chief Information Officer, Wheaton College) and Sue B.Workman (Vice President for Information Technology Services, Case Western Reserve University).

Why in the world would anyone hire you as a CIO?

  • Those of you who are in support probably feel undervalued, although you are one of the main communication links that bring the institution closer to the staff, students, parents, etc.
  • You will probably have a holistic view of people’s needs and infrastructure, and where to go for resources.
  • Study the organisational chart so that you know all the sections and departments, and all your staff names.
  • Seize on trends before they actually become trends.
  • Ensure you gather and have to hand the best data and analytics available.
  • You will be seen as the front door to the centre of IT.
  • You will probably be one of the only non-technical staff members in IT.
  • You have to think on your feet during technical meetings; if you don’t know a technical phrase, just Google it.
  • The CIO is often there to bridge the gap between the CIP and the technical staff, although they don’t need to be technical themselves.

What skills have you developed that has helped you bridge that gap (from IT support to CIO)?

  • You really have to know the business of the University to be the CIO.
  • You need to fully understand changes and how to manage them, and how they will impact every part of the business.
  • You need to be able to build strong relationships, which you may need to call on in time.
  • The breadth and depth of knowledge you acquire in support puts you in a good position to become a CIO.
  • Many CIOs don’t have an IT background.
  • The CIO manages all interactions between IT and its internal and external support elements.

What are some examples of major initiatives that you have started as a CIO where you directly leveraged your experience in the support organisation?

  • Change management – you have to have the correct mind set to crack this area of expertise.
  • Understand and support what is being done at a technical level to ensure business continuity.
  • Supports skills between service providers either inside or outside of IT.
  • The building of relationships is difficult and sometimes requires difficult conversations to take place.

Tips on becoming a CIO

  • Undertake a listening tour when you first arrive, so that you can listen to people’s views on problems and improvements. Take time to have a coffee with staff members.
  • It’s very important to keep talking to people, and to take care of the little things.
  • Collaboratively building technology with your people in order to ensure that innovation and creativity are nurtured.
  • Don’t be the first person to talk in a meeting; listen and let other have their say.
  • If you want to become a CIO, employ a mentor and have regular meetings with them to track your progress and to offer support.