Friday, August 15, 2014

Interviewing as CIO

In a 2013 article, Mark Askren (Chief Information Officer for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) writes for EDUCAUSE about The CIO: Defining a Career for the Future. Mark shares several great insights for anyone looking to take the next step up the ladder. His advice to aspiring CIOs:

1. Pushing Yourself Forward
This relates both to the psychology of taking the next step ("I could never do that.") and to the challenge of physical relocation: "This is often in terms of location—that is, not being willing, because of family or other local commitments and preferences, to relocate. We all know of successful IT leaders who have stayed at one institution, or within one metropolitan area, their entire career. Nevertheless, being anchored greatly limits opportunities for growth."
2. Climbing outside Your Comfort Zone
"To make significant progress in career growth, you need to understand your weaknesses. For example, do you fear public speaking? If so, the good news is that you have plenty of company. The bad news is that unless you address your fear, you will severely limit your ability to be successful in higher-level positions."
3. Applying and Interviewing
"After the first impression, interviewers are making another judgment: has this candidate spent the time to learn about the department, the institution, and current priorities and issues? If the judgment is no, you are not likely to be hired. Be prepared. Make sure you know who you will be meeting with, what roles they play, how they interrelate, and why they are part of the search process."
4. Listening to the Experts
Mark cites a number of executive search firms in answering key questions for CIO candidates: Phil Goldstein and Mary Beth Baker (Managing Partners from the executive search firm Next Generation), Matthew C. Aiello (Partner, Heidrick & Struggles), Martin M. Baker (Vice President, Baker and Associates), and Linda Hodges (Senior Vice President, Information Technology Practice Leader, Witt/Kieffer).
  • "What are college/university senior leaders really looking for in an IT leader?"
  • "What are the most important characteristics of a successful candidate?"
  • "What is your advice for those who are applying to and being interviewed for a senior IT leadership position?"
  • "What new trends in IT leadership placement have you noticed during this past year?"
5. Navigating Status and Risk in Higher Education
"What is your risk profile? We are familiar with the importance of evaluating risk in the decisions we make for our organizations. But have you considered how much risk you are willing to tolerate in terms of your career growth? Leaving a central IT position to accept a higher-level role in leading a campus IT organization has risk … Yet those and other changes also have high potential to be very successful choices that will ultimately take you much further than you would have ever gone if you had not taken the risk."
See also the video interview with Mark Askren, "On the Path to CIO," attached to the article.

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