In my work with senior IT leaders aspiring to be a CIO, the most common question I ask is, “Why do you want to be a CIO? 

What drives anyone to want to be a CIO. Wanting the title is sometimes the reason. The title alone won’t sustain you through the pressures. Some imagine they will be in control and get to make the decisions.  You will experience many opportunities to make decisions, but I can guarantee that you will not be in control of all decisions.  

Let’s face it, the CIO has a hard job and faces many challenges. As the most senior leader of the Information Technology function, you have pressures coming at you from all sides. Business requirements increase the need for technology. Costs rise and you are challenged to keep budgets down. As technology forces deliver new functionality, resistance to change adds new pressure. 

You most likely have the largest single G&A cost center in the company with the most visible service delivery function. The services delivered are critical to the corporate mission and quite often taken for granted as a utility. You are accountable 24 x 7 for availability and access to business systems that are critical to driving business results. You are responsible for the inevitable data breach. In the world of SaaS and PaaS, you are even responsible for things that you don’t have control over.   

It can be a lonely job. You are required to maintain calm in the time of crisis and demonstrate confidence to your peers. There aren’t many people you can vent to without risk of eroding their confidence in you. Occasionally, it can feel like a no win situation.   

At the same time the role of the CIO is so very rewarding. What other corporate leadership role has the depth and breadth of influence as the CIO across all areas of the business?  


The CIO of yesterday has evolved into a business leader partnering with peers to drive results. The dependence of business on information technology will continue to grow with the digital revolution.  Today’s CIO must be business savvy and responsive to business drivers and the needs of peers worrying about digital transformation. The CIO who can evolve from the operational leader to a strategic executive has the opportunity to make a real difference in both the corporate direction and the lives of IT team member. It is a big job, and a very rewarding job for the right person and reason.  

The questions you should ask yourself are:  

  • What is driving you to be or want to be a CIO?   
  • Have you thought about why you want such a challenging role? 
  • What is your purpose?   
  • What do you hope to get out the experience?  
  • Are you ready to move from a technical leadership role to a business leadership role?  What do you need to get there?   
  • What legacy do you aspire to leave behind?   
  • How much risk are you willing to take on?   

I am here for you if you need help answering these questions or if you need a partner in building your future success.   

Until next time, have an effective week! 


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

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