Do you have what it takes to become a CIO in Asia?

 Do you have what it takes to become a CIO in Asia

Facing an extremely fast-changing environment amid the speed of technology advancements, many aspiring Chief Information Officers are wondering which direction they should take in their career.

Despite being relatively new, the role of CIO is fast establishing itself as a key part of the executive suite. In its ‘DNA of a CIO Asia’ report, recruiting experts Hays spoke to 307 IT leaders across Asia through in-depth one-on-one interviews, to uncover what makes a successful CIO.

It is found that most CIOs had IT related university degrees, with 62 per cent possessing a degree in Information Technology, Computer Science or Systems.

On top of a solid technical foundation, keeping abreast of rapidly changing technology advancements was seen to be a key career development step that 49 per cent of CIOs take.

But being CIO is not only about the technical knowledge. The CIOs Hays surveyed agreed that it’s also about being commercially involved in the business and having a multitude of business skills, especially strategic planning. This was followed by people management and stakeholder engagement.

Today’s IT leaders are people who can enhance the strategic direction of entire organisations by putting technology at the heart, but rather than just classed as technical support. Successful CIOs spend time working across the wider organisation in order to act as an effective interface between IT and the business to deliver critical outcomes.

In order to develop these skills, some of CIOs have taken further education, with 23 per cent having obtained an MBA. The CIOs interviewed also spoke of international experience as a key contributor. In fact 44 per cent of the CIOs interviewed had gained international experience and 70 per cent of those found this to be of considerable benefit to their career.

CIOs are in a unique position to enhance organisations by acting as a link between business strategy and IT strategy. Whilst there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to becoming a CIO, there are certainly common traits that aspiring CIOs can strive towards:

Building a solid technical foundation: 

  • 62% have a degree in Information Technology, Computer Science or Systems
  • 45% have a Master’s degree and 23% an MBA
  • 41% of CIOs hold IT certifications or have undertaken additional IT qualifications
  • 78% have always work in IT

Keeping on top of IT related developments:

  • 19% state one of their greatest professional challenges in the upcoming year is to keep up-to-date with new technology
  • 49% say that keeping up-to-date with the latest industry changes is one of the career developmental steps they’ve taken in the last two years
  • 34% cite keeping up-to-date on tech advances as one of their top three tips for the next generation of CIOs

Developing a multitude of business skills:

  • 53% of CIOs identify strategic planning as the most important skill to possess
  • 47% think their collaborative mindset has helped them build their careers
  • 32% advise aspiring CIOs to get involved with the business rather than just the technology

Building a solid network:

  • 35% of surveyed CIOs agree that it is important for the IT department to work with all other departments in the organisation
  • 36% state that they attended networking events to aid their development

Furthermore, the rapidly changing economic and technological environment in Asia poses a further set of challenges for today’s CIO. When asked about the greatest business challenges for CIOs for the next 12 months, CIOs cited aligning strategic requirements with operational budget and workforce (38%), recruitment, retention and attraction (31%) and skills and knowledge gap of the team (31%). Layer this with the fact that 95% of the surveyed CIOs are male; proving more needs to be done to encourage women into IT in addition to other means of addressing skills and talent shortages.


Read the ‘DNA of a CIO Asia’ report at

This article was originally published on Hays.


Further reading: 

Tips for CEOs to drive successful digital workplace strategy

The benefits of workplace diversity

Bosses, for the sake of your staff please don’t stop learning

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