“It used to be being a CIO meant making sure your IT staff down in the basement had enough Twinkies and Mountain Dew. But boy has that changed,” began Wayne Brown, VP or IT and CIO at Excelsior College in his session at the Campus Technology Conference in Boston on what it takes to be a CIO in 2016.
According to Brown, who also created the Center for Higher Education CIO Studies, Inc., (CHECS) while little has changed in terms of the gender and ethnicity of a CIO—white male over 51 years-old with an advanced degree who’s planning on retiring in 10 years—the role of the CIO has not only deepened, but campus technology leaders and CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) are coming to expect more from a CIO’s qualifications for the position.
“I’ve been doing this presentation a few times now and I’m always happy to see people interested in becoming a CIO,” he said. “It’s a hard job but it’s a great job. There’s no other position outside of the President that can have this kind of impact at an institution.”
Brown’s CHECS conducts a yearly study, The Higher Education Chief Information Officer Roles and Effectiveness report, surveying thousands of technology leaders and CIOs around the world, but mostly in the US. The report contains a wide variety of information, including demographics of the CIO, their perception of their effectiveness, their opinion on the attributes and experiences necessary for a higher education CIO, and their plans for the future. The report also provides longitudinal data on a variety of questions to show trend data. The institution management teams (other VPs and Presidents) of those CIOs are then given a survey containing many of the same questions that the CIO answered. This two-step process provides CHECS with a way to compare CIO and IMT perceptions. The Higher Education Technology Leadership (TL) report contains information on those people most likely to succeed the higher education CIO in the future and includes the demographics of the TL, their career plans, activities they are undertaking to prepare for that future, and their perspective on the CIO job.