Graceful exits from IT: Why CIOs decide to move on

What do you do after reaching the pinnacle of IT management? If you're like these CIOs, you leave. Here's where they went, and why.

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Beyond that, "my ambition was to be a businessperson who could run IT or any other needed part of a business," Farr says.

At Farr Systems, he and his staff of 15 offer consulting, coaching and assessment services and provide interim CIOs. "As a CIO, you see your business and your IT organization in very great detail," he explains, but you don't always have access to a wider perspective. "As a consultant, I see how CIOs have similar problems and opportunities, and I get to see some of the best and some of the worst approaches to new technologies and to new management practices."

The broader view, he says, allows him to bring many new ideas to his clients.

Wake-up Call?

These IT leaders' career paths are typical of executives who decide that something's missing from their working lives as time goes by, says Frank Scavo, president of Computer Economics, an IT research firm in Irvine, Calif.

But they can leave a void in the industries they forsake when they seek fulfillment elsewhere, Scavo says. "If some of the best CIOs are leaving to do something else, that's not a good thing" for companies that need innovative, forward-looking IT pros.

Scavo examined this issue in a report titled "Elevating the Role of the CIO." He says employers can try to stop the migration by rewarding IT leaders with fulfilling work and greater responsibilities.

If CIOs aren't rewarded with appropriate levels of work and responsibility, he says, "then I think each person will take a hard look at what they really want to do."

Weiss is an award-winning IT journalist and freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter, where his handle is TechManTalking, or email him at

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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