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Is CIO the New Stepping Stone to CEO?

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|Mar 17|magazine4 min read

How does one climb to the top of the company? There are several different paths, some more unconventional than others, but often, CFOs and others with extensive financial backgrounds are elevated from the finance-specific role to head of the company.

So when Richard Umbers, chief information officer at Myer, was promoted to CEO, it caught people’s attention. Could the chief information officer be next in line for more companies?

It’s a very real possibility. Technology and information—particularly data analytics—are becoming the foundation on which many companies are forming, rebuilding and rebranding.

CFOs were traditionally the role that knew more about a company than anyone else: the reason to an ambitious CEO’s wild ideas and balance sheet and analytic report pros. CFOs, for the most part, are based in the reality of the company’s situation. And now, so are the CIOs.

Every facet of business is using some form of technology, giving CIOs insight into all aspects of how the business is run and operates. The person managing the projects that take the company into the 21st century now have that bird’s eye view of the organisation, just in a different, perhaps in a more useful, way from the CFO.

Umbers experience talked directly to this approach. He used technology in his general management positions for Aldi, StarTrack and Australian Post, and for his customer engagement job with Woolworths. Myer knew that he would be able to implement technology to make it a more efficient and effective retailer.

CIOs may not have thought their goal was to occupy the top spot at the company, but now that door is open to them. The question is, will 2015 be the year of the CIO?

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