3 crucial personas of successful CIOs

CIOs often have to wear many hats to get the job done. ServiceNow CIO Chris Bedi shares his advice for aspiring CIOs
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[Editor's note: As part of our new series in which IT leaders offer advice to the next generation of CIOs, Chris Bedi, CIO of ServiceNow, shares his biggest lesson learned.]

My first CIO job:

I held various positions at VeriSign during my tenure from April 2002 to August 2011, one of them being my first role as CIO.

Prior experience:

Prior to my role as CIO at VeriSign, I held the positions of VP of corporate development, VP of HR operations, and MIS director. Before VeriSign, I started my career at KPMG Consulting from June 1996 to April 2002.

What my first CIO job taught me:

The biggest lesson learned from my first job in the CIO position was how critical it is, more than ever, that the strategy at the CIO level is completely aligned to enable the overall business strategy. In order to do so, CIOs must embody three crucial personas: Communicator, Salesperson, and Influencer.

As we’ve seen time and time again in today’s workplace, technology helps enable new ways of business, collaboration, productivity – the potential and possibilities are endless. However, “new” is often synonymous with “change,” and “change” is often met with trepidation. CIOs must sell the vision that technology will make life better across the entire business.

It’s one thing to drive and sell this change to your C-suite counterparts; it’s another to sell it to all levels of the organization. CIOs need to convince business units that the vision will allow them to create cross-company services that deliver great user or customer experiences. As CIOs tap this new technology to accelerate the benefits of the business, they need to help establish guidelines for executives, engineers, and front-line workers about the future of their work, and they need to roll out the organizational change management to make it a positive, seamless, effective, and impactful transition.

CIOs must sell the vision that technology will make life better across the entire business.

But it’s important to remember that these changes are not all about the business or about the work – they are about the employee, too. They need to understand that you are promising them a better future at work at a high level, but also what the change will mean to a person's specific role – how it will touch him or her on a personal level.

The CIO role is to help employees with that transition and to help leaders in the business navigate through it.

My advice for aspiring CIOs:

It’s lonely at the top. That said, as you work towards that CIO position, build and nurture your network of aspiring CIOs (much like yourself). When you land that seat in the C-suite, you'll have a solid system of connections encountering similar experiences as you that you can leverage when facing a particularly difficult challenge, or when you're in need of advice.

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Chris Bedi joined ServiceNow in September 2015 and currently serves as ServiceNow’s CIO. Prior to joining ServiceNow, Bedi served as CIO of JDSU from August 2011 to March 2015 where he was responsible for IT, Facilities, and Indirect Procurement.