How double-duty CIOs cope with non-IT responsibilities

CIOs who take on additional business functions are impressive, but how do they they do it all without having a nervous breakdown? The answer: great teams, trusted deputies.

A funny thing happened on the way to CIOs becoming strategic business leaders. Everybody, it seems, landed a second job along the way.

In the past few months, I've talked with many CIOs who are also chief digital officers, chief process officers, chief operating officers or senior vice presidents of various business functions. Their day jobs include activities like leading mergers and acquisitions, or managing supply chains, or developing new products and services, or running global operations.

I'm always suitably impressed (and more than a little amazed) by the expanding workloads these CIO-plus executives are carrying.

But I'm often left wondering how they do it all without having a nervous breakdown.

Our feature story "CIOs Boost Their Careers Doing Double Duty With Non-IT Functions" not only answers my question about the mental health prospects of CIO-plus execs, it also reveals why this trend is thriving and expanding.

"IT already is related to every single part of a business," writes Julia King, a CIO contributing editor. That horizontal, helicopter-view of business processes gives IT leaders the opportunity to "more readily identify business stumbling blocks and innovate process improvements that increase business value."

The key word there is opportunity. The CIOs who step up for double duty are rarely drafted into these roles. They volunteer.

That's what Elizabeth Hackenson of AES did when she approached her CEO about taking on bigger challenges. Now CIO and senior vice president of technology and services, she oversees IT, cybersecurity, corporate services, internal audit, a global insurance group and a new energy business that includes a rooftop solar company. Whew. "A lot of what's been moved under me is stuff where you need strong relationships rather than command and control," Hackenson says. "It's more about influence."

Our story delves into the details of how CIOs manage these expanded roles, which require trusted deputies, high-performing teams and plenty of mentoring. They also broaden the career horizons of the IT group.

Mike Capone, former CIO and head of product development at ADP, noticed how his dual role paved the way for greater talent migration from IT into product development. As IT blends more deeply with business, he says, "CIO is no longer a destination job."

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