Human Resources

The challenge of being an interim CIO

A growing number of IT leaders are joining the contracting community to become interim CIOs. Temporary leadership roles come with their own obvious challenges, such as speed-learning a company’s organizational structure, technology portfolio, and politics. But the interim CIO also has the opportunity to make vital changes in preparation for a permanent replacement. Success depends in large part on company culture combined with the interim CIO’s skillset and adaptability.

Omid Shiraji, consulting CIO at Camden Council (and formerly interim CIO at the same organization) believes one of the key challenges is a misplaced perception around loyalty and longevity. “There is a negative perception that interims land with a short-term mindset; executing a specific brief and leave others to ‘pick up the pieces’ of the decisions they make, once they’ve gone,” he says.

But that isn’t what the interim CIO is about, explains Shiraji. Instead, the most successful interim CIOs think about sustainability up front and build it into their engagement. “They focus on what is right for the organization both immediately and in the long-term, and act with the accountability of a permanent leader. There is no other way to build professional credibility,” he says.


Setting expectations for interim CIOs

To begin with, everyone in the organization should be aware how long the interim CIO will be at the organization and exactly what that person is expected to accomplish.

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Sooraj Shah

Sooraj Shah is a freelance technology journalist whose key focus is on how IT leaders are transforming their organisations using emerging technology. 

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