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CIOs need strategy and change management credentials to be CEOs

Nadia Cameron | Aug. 6, 2014
Vision Australia CEO Ron Hooton shares his rise from IT executive to business leader and why CIOs need to learn a lesson or two from marketers.

More widely, Hooton said any CEO must be an outstanding leader of people and teams. "You just can't be a recluse, or someone out there with a big ego. You need to be a growth leader of people," he claimed.

"You are only a leader if you have people willing to follow you. Smart leaders understand that it's not what you take as credit, but what others do that really matters. That also leads to respecting the individuals in your organisation and their skills.

"What I can't do is do their jobs for them."

In addition, leaders must drive strategy and change -- areas Hooton believed CIOs can excel in. He stressed the need to have a strong understanding of the core business drivers and values to do this.

"In this room, I think we should claim strategy as our heartland," Hooton commented. "But we have to capture the strategy landscape, not the IT landscape. To do that, we need to be leaders of change."

As an example of former IT executives responsible for big organisational change, Hooton highlighted Rob Fyfe, former CIO and then CEO of Air New Zealand, who led a successful transformation of the business. The banking sector is another area significantly transformed by technology capability through self-service solutions for customers.

Along his journey to CEO, Hooton said he learnt a number of lessons, the first of which is to take your opportunities. He also advocated close ties with executive recruiters, and paying attention to the bottom line.

"Be strategic -- think broadly," he added. "I've also learnt as much from the people I don't respect as the people I do.

"Learn from the bad as well as the good."


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