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Career Plan : Projet Manager IT -> CIO -> CEO

I got a friend in the Distribution industry
who started out as an in-house developer, then was promoted to Project Manager (mainly to manage all the projects related to ERP as this is the engine driving the company), now he's CIO and soon to be CEO.

The current CEO is retiring soon and he thinks that the CIO has got what he takes to make a good CEO for this company.

I'm also interested by such a carreer path

Is it common for IT people to end up CEOfor a non IT/Software related company

WannaBe CEO
Monday, August 16, 2004

What are the skills somone has got to develop to become CEO ?

I come from a programming background and I've
no finance, business experience.

Should I be thinking getting a MBA ?

WannaBe CEO
Monday, August 16, 2004

Get a sales job for a couple of years.  Take a look around at where CEO's come from and you'll probably be surprised to learn that more than a few come from that background.

Monday, August 16, 2004

I think there are qualities of engineers that serve CEOs well, but that doesn't necessarily mean all (or even many) engineers have EVERYTHING it takes to be a CEO.

Brad Wilson (
Monday, August 16, 2004

You have 2 options if you want to become a C-level exec.  Sales and Finance.

Finance will get you to CFO,sales will get you to any other.

You might see the CIO / VP engineering position come from a techie, but many companies simply don't have these positions.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Jeff Fox, in his book "How to become CEO", says you have to look at the past history of the company and find out from which group (sales, IT, finance, etc.) within the company past CEOs were selected, and get a job in that group.

Fox also says that IT jobs (even CIO) are considered admin, and for most companies (Microsoft & Google, etc. might be exceptions), are not the right path to the CEO position.

anonymous financial IT guy
Monday, August 16, 2004

To be honest, I'm a little wary of the fact that you are asking a bunch of programmers how to become a CEO.  Unless you are really just setting up the target to inspire a bunch of funny jabs at execs, in which case rock on!  Here's my definitive instructions:

1. Obtain either a CPA, or MBA.  (could be substituted with marrying the current CEO's daughter)
2. Get a sales job and be successful at sales (cheating is OK as long as it doesn't show up outside the company)
3. Be very shrewd, manipulative, or lucky.

An alternate route would be:

1. Quit your Program Manager job to start your own company.
2. Order one set of business cards that calls you CIO, and one set with CEO.
3. Done.

Clay Whipkey
Monday, August 16, 2004

CIOs don't become CEOs, and CIOs often come from non-IT backgrounds.

Monday, August 16, 2004

If you covet the title, the surest path to becoming a CEO is to start your own business.
Monday, August 16, 2004

Honestly, if you have to ask how to become a CEO, you probably won't.

My advice for a career plan:

IT -> Project Manager -> Maximize income and security


And my #1 piece of advice for advancement: be visible. Be there. Be in meetings. Be heard. People don't promote people they aren't aware of.


Monday, August 16, 2004

Salesmen often rise through the ranks for two reasons:

1) Their work is easily measured, so the outstanding salesman is identified every year and earns a big salary.

2) Good salesmen are expert negotiators and are very good at selling themselves.

A technical job doesn't lend itself to identifying the star performers, and the technical star performers are usually not good at selling themselves as business leaders.

Anony Coward
Monday, August 16, 2004

"And my #1 piece of advice for advancement: be visible. Be there. Be in meetings. Be heard. People don't promote people they aren't aware of."

As usual, Philo speaks truth.
Monday, August 16, 2004

Philo is dead on with his advice.

Ask yourself, why do you want that the title “CEO”.  Do you want the feeling of importance that is implied with it or the salary/benefits that are associated with it? 

If you want the cash I would first follow Philo’s advice and then work on other revenue streams in your off time. 

Monday, August 16, 2004

Good advice--you gotta sell yourself.  Be prepared for a lifetime of sucking up and making yourself look better than you really are.  AKA Cronyism

The alternative is to start learning about business and start one of your own--boom you're CEO on the first day!  Chances of being a successful Entrepreneur are much higher than ever rising to be CEO.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

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