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Since becoming SVP and CIO at Adobe Systems during summer 2016, Cynthia Stoddard has kept up a hectic schedule getting to know the company, which has included building relationships with her colleagues around the world. The Enterprisers Project caught up with her to discuss what makes for a winning CIO today.
The Enterprisers Project (TEP): As digital transformation rolls on and we approach what eBay’s CEO called “The Age of Everywhere,” many IT groups are defining what the next generation of their organization looks like. That begs the question – what does the ideal CIO look like for the successful future of IT?
Stoddard: I think today’s CIOs need to be extremely well rounded. They should have broad business and technical backgrounds and be confident in taking risks.
TEP: There is always a debate out there about technical vs. business CIO or business vs. technical. What if you had to choose one?
Stoddard: Both are important, but as the role of the CIO has evolved to be closer to the business, it’s imperative that they have strong business acumen.
As a CIO, one of your primary roles is to be what I call a translator and an advisor on how technology can be adapted to the business. So unless you know how the business operates — and not just your own business, but the business of your customers, too — you’re not going to be able to do that. And a CIO needs a certain amount of credibility to be that confidante or advisor to the executive team.
So I would say, get a lot of business experience. And that doesn’t necessarily mean working in the business units, but it’s important to get business exposure. The goal is that you’re capable of anticipating the needs of your business colleagues based on the competitive environment and the problems customers are trying to solve. Then you can bring fresh ideas to the table and pair them with ways that technology can be used to solve those customer problems.