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How To Go From Acting CIO to Actual CIO

How To Go From Acting CIO to Actual CIO

"I came up with a way to evaluate candidates where I drew a line and said if the candidate is a full step above me, I'll be big enough to be prepared to work for him or her," he says. "But if I didn't think I could learn something from this person, I would state my concern."

Be sensitive to the reaction of your former peers. "You need to understand that not everyone will be happy for you," says Repko.

Colleagues who feel that they should have been selected for the interim assignment may not be your top supporters. "You cannot alienate your former peers," he says. "Be humble, ask their advice often and show them that you're in learning mode."

Be visible. Soon after he was put in the interim position, Repko built a 30-60-90-day plan for the IT organization and hit the road.

"I felt that it was critically important that the top leaders at Covance understood that I was in charge and was no longer the number two guy," he says. "I did that by going on a world tour to meet with all of the major business leaders and building a solid 30-60-90-plan and reviewing it frequently with my CEO and my peers."

Think short and long simultaneously. In November 2006, consultant Rick Gehringer was invited to negotiate an outsourcing agreement for the Brookings Institution. By January, the relationship turned into a six-month interim CIO contract while the organization conducted an external CIO search. Two months into the search, which began in May 2007, Rick formally interviewed for the role and received an offer a month later.

His advice? "Remember that you're doing the job they hired you for with one hand and interviewing for the permanent job with the other," he says. "You need to deliver a balance of short term successes, like resolving chronic infrastructure problems, with long term strategic vision."

In other words, act like a CIO and you may just win the job.

Martha Heller is managing director of the IT Leadership Practice at ZRG, an executive recruiting firm in Boston. Reach her at mheller@zrgroup.com.

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