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CIOs should look to business roles to gain experience and perspective

CIOs should look to business roles to gain experience and perspective

Former South East Water CIO, Marcus Darbyshire spent three months as the company's CFO and found the experience "invaluable"

Former South East Water CIO, Marcus Darbyshire, now executive partner at research firm, Gartner.

Former South East Water CIO, Marcus Darbyshire, now executive partner at research firm, Gartner.

CIOs should look to placing themselves into a more business-orientated role to gain a different perspective and better understand their organisation.

Former South East Water CIO, Marcus Darbyshire, now executive partner at research firm Gartner, followed his six-year stint as CIO for the water retailer with three months as chief financial officer, an experience he describes as “invaluable”.

“It gave me the opportunity to see the business from another perspective, a purely a financial one,” Darbyshire said. “You’ve got to understand how the business model works and where the inputs are coming from and where the expenses are going to and it just gave me a much greater insight into the economics of the business.”

According to Darbyshire, the opportunity was helpful and enabled him to see the business from another perspective and really appreciate the CFO’s challenges around making the business model work financially.

“As CIO, you do have to consider that but it’s not your primary responsibility, you’re worried about the technology issues, the support issues and your projects, whereas the CFO’s got to worry about financial reporting and all the issues around treasury management and getting the loans right,” he said.

“We all worry about the business but everyone has different priorities.”

Commenting on his resignation from South East Water, Darbyshire said it was “just good timing and a good offer” that coincided with his plans to move from Melbourne to Brisbane.

His role with Gartner involves the running of the executive programs for CIOs in the Queensland and Northern Territory area. It also requires assisting CIOs with everyday challenges, acting as a mentor, acting as a link to all the Gartner research, the analysts and the events, and helping them review their IT strategies and other documents.

“The role is different to being a CIO but having the CIO background is imperative to be able to do the job effectively because you are a peer of the members of the Gartner Executive Programs and so you need to be able to understand their challenges with some practical experience,” he said.

South East Water has called for applications to fill the role of CIO, which is temporarily filled by Penny Dent, former manager of IT applications and project services for the water retailer.

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