Information Technology Management with a Purpose

Aug 21 2012   3:48AM GMT

Professional development of CIOs

S R Balasubramanian Profile: S R Balasubramanian

I had the opportunity to develop and mentor quite a few of my junior colleagues over the years. Many of them progressed well and some of them really rose higher and took up position of greater responsibilities. I realized that some of them had innate qualities and traits like forward thinking, positive attitude, an adventurous spirit and leadership, and some had educational qualifications to back their endeavor. Some were triers while others were conservative and content. Those who were ambitious but felt inadequate in terms of education and knowledge, went for higher studies and were benefited in the long run.

Teaching experience
I have been associated with management institutions and been teaching students through guest lectures and some semester courses as well. The experience has been rewarding as I learn when preparing for the lecture and then through interaction with the students who raise questions. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to take a guest lecture for students of an Executive MBA program, on the topic ‘Strategic Management of IT’. The students were executives from various companies with experiences ranging from 3 years to 10 years and most of them had an IT background wanting to give fillip to their careers. The learned professor explained to me before the session about the topics that the students had been taught so far. They had covered elements of IT planning, their alignment with business, about enterprise systems and the need to justify IT investments to the management. The professor told me that the students would like to know how it really works in the corporate sector and feIt that I can tell them based on my experiences with the corporate sector.

I started my lecture telling them how a simple IT plan differs from strategic plan and how it is important to know and understand business, its strategies, goals and priorities before embarking on any planning of IT and its management thereafter. Sensing their curiosity I explained the various aspects of business that the CIO should study, ask for and understand. I then proceeded explaining how I went about planning and managing IT in three different organizations that I worked with and presented a case study of one of my projects. This was absorbed well and people sat through the class without showing signs of strain.

Interaction with students
Students were bright and quite inquisitive and raised several questions during the sessions. They asked me about my interaction with the managements and about relationship with the CEOs that I reported to. They wanted to know why some plans fail and why some plans go through and falter later. A student even asked me why I had only presented cases where I succeeded but not about organizations where my plan did not work. That was a tricky question and therefore I had to explain about the organization environment and the attitude of the managements which were not supportive.

They were also interested in understanding the roadblocks and people management issues that I had faced when implementing plans. There were also questions on justification of investment and the ‘ROI’ factor and how to tide over them. I was really impressed with the group and their enthusiasm to know and understand. I complemented them and expressed hope that they would be apply what they had learnt that day. For me, they were a bunch of good CIOs in the making.

Developing IT personnel for CIO position
In my interaction with a host of CIOs, I see many of them a bit dissatisfied with their situation. Though they put in sincere efforts in their work, they are sometimes not able to make their mark. They find something missing and wonder why they are not able to get the management on their side. While other avenues could be available, education is one of them. If they could learn various aspects of management they would be better armed when speaking to their seniors. I wish more of our young CIOs and other senior IT staff members consider joining management courses and get equipped to make a difference in their organizations.

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