IT execs need to aim for the top prize

The aspirations of an IT manager shouldn't end with the CIO title. In fact, the role of the CIO should simply be a stepping stone on the road to becoming the CEO, according to the Egidio Zarella, Asia-Pacific partner of KPMG's information risk management group.

He said IT executives need greater ambition and need to have their eye on the ultimate prize.

Zarella, who will be delivering a keynote speech at the South East Asian Regional Computer Confederation (SEARRC 05) conference in Sydney today, said the boardroom is still not taking IT seriously.

He said a smart CIO will use issues like regulatory compliance to get into the boardroom and to take some of the shine off the CFO.

"The CIO should use Sarbanes-Oxley or audits to their advantage because the CFO has been doing it for years," Zarella said, adding that he doesn't understand why IT executives hesitate when it comes to having influence.

"CIOs have influence over the most important company asset, information, so they should be the chief influencing officer.

"The problem is there is still a disconnect at the top and CIOs aren't making it clear how much they are needed."

Zarella pointed to a survey he undertook this year into Sarbanes-Oxley which found 50 percent of control issues are related to IT.

"But what is the IT manager or CIO doing to make sure their message gets across?" he asked.

Zarella believes there is still gap between IT and business and the problem is getting worse.

"This is why so many IT shops are losing the war against outsourcing," he said.

"If CIOs are so important, why are they still reporting to a fellow C-level staffer?

"IT managers and CIOs need the ambition to be the CEO - the role of CIO is not an endstone but a stepping stone."

Consultant and author of Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Johanna Rothman, says the best performers are those who aren't afraid to change roles and are committed to planning their career at every stage of the game.

IDG is the official organizer and media sponsor of the SEARCC 05 conference.

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