Mojgan Lefebvre

This CIO learned to take chances in her career and crystallize her agenda.

Mojgan Lefebvre stepped into the senior vice president and CIO job at Liberty Mutual Commercial Markets in July 2010. It was her third stint as a CIO since 2004. She held the top IT posts at BioMerieux from 2007 to 2010 and at Teletech Holdings from 2004 to 2007. Her experience as an IT executive, coupled with the skills she has gained in business-side positions such as company founder and CEO, has given her insights into what it takes for executives to manage their careers. In fact, she recently spoke on that topic at an event sponsored by Women in Technology International. Here she shares her views on running a successful IT shop and managing one's career.

What's the biggest mistake most CIOs make in managing their careers? One of the things that CIOs, and executives in general, don't do enough of is take risks and take on new roles and, for CIOs specifically, take the time to do something on the business side before spending their careers on the IT side. Those who do [spend time on the business side] realize how valuable the experience is.

Did you spend time on the business side? Yes, absolutely. It's such an amazing experience to have to look at everything from a customer's perspective.

What do you suggest other CIOs do to better manage their careers? You can take concrete steps where you actually go out of IT and do something different for a while. I know that's risky, but without that the rewards won't be there. But if [such opportunities aren't available], then freely leverage the IT arena. You're sitting at the intersection of all the business problems and issues, so really try to learn and become part of the conversations that the executive staff is having. Try to learn and contribute and not limit yourself to just being part of the technology conversation.

And I think generally for anyone to manage their career in any organization, it's important to know who are the key people around you, who are the key constituents, who are your allies and people who might potentially stand in your way, and then be aware of those relationships and never be afraid to build the relationships you may need.

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