IT Careers 2014

Why few want to be the CIO anymore

More than half of the respondents to our survey say they don't aspire to be a CIO. Here's why politics, pay and a lack of prestige can sink CIO aspirations.

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An Issue of Status

For Christopher Barron, CIO at Valerus, a Houston-based oil and gas services company, Computerworld's survey findings weren't what he expected. "I was surprised that the percentage [of tech workers who don't want to be CIOs] wasn't higher," he says.

Barron says he believes IT professionals today are spurning the CIO role because of the comparatively low status that the title carries at most companies. "If people are going to work hard toward getting a C-level title, they want it to mean something," he says. "What a lot of people see is that CIOs don't wield either the power or authority commensurate to a C-level title."

Another big disincentive: "The politics are endless and there's not a lot of respect for the position," Barron says. "The C-suite is pretty apathetic about the CIO position. What they want is for systems to work and they want no drama out of IT."

While Barron says that he enjoys the role, he believes the modern CIO has become an ambassador within the C-suite. "The set of skills required to be successful is not what a typical technologist would likely possess or, more importantly, value," he notes.

Interested Onlookers

The politics and power struggles don't go unnoticed by the rank and file. Additionally, IT staffers say they can't help but notice how much time the CIO role requires. Many IT professionals, especially younger people, are unwilling to trade off having balanced work and home lives for the pursuit of IT's top spot.

"I watched my VP's transition to the most senior level and the time it takes to devote to that position is too much time to give to my career for me," says Jurenka.

"The tendency to do more with less means most IT people are spending a great deal more time on the job and the level of productivity required of each individual is ramping up," observes Joseph Morgan, a programmer/analyst at Amerigroup, WellPoint's government business division in Virginia Beach, Va. "There's a perception that it will only get worse the higher up you go and you'll have no life," he adds. "The amount of money a CIO makes is not enough compensation for a lack of a life."

Story continues on next page >

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