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Career Direction: SA -> CIO/CTO

SilentBob82SilentBob82 Member Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
I have been a Systems Administrator for the last 5 years. My ultimate goal is to be a CIO/CTO some day, but it seems a little fuzzy on the avenue to it. I have been and currently am in a Lead role and I very much enjoy managing people and projects. My SA role requires me to be heavily involved in IT Security team, which I enjoy very much. This poses my dilemma. Two positions will be opening up in our IT department. One that is a IT project Manager position and the other is an IT Information Security Specialist position. Both are about the same pay, and I will be applying for both, but my question is, which one will be the better path to my end goal? I have talked to recruiters and other professionals about this and I get a mixed amount of results.

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    ajs1976ajs1976 Member Posts: 1,945 ■■■■□□□□□□
    whichever one gets you to a management role faster. My path is taking me down the security route and i'm hoping the business classes I have taken and eventually getting the CISSP will help me make the jump.
    Andy

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    sadfjlfdo24sadfjlfdo24 Banned Posts: 59 ■■□□□□□□□□
    IT Information Security Specialist should lead to Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) position, while IT project Manager with PMP/ITIL should get you to the CIO position. Keep in mind that CISO usually reports to CIO/CTO.
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    gbdavidxgbdavidx Member Posts: 840
    Found this online for a CIO job description https://re2o.ultipro.com/san1001/jobBoard/JobDetails.aspx?__ID=*D220DF8C8B85EAAC

    I would get a masters and take the IT management role, sounds closer to management which may be what can bring you to a CIO level
    • University degree in the field of computer science or business administration. Master’s degree in one of these fields preferred.
    • The incumbent will have a strong background working in 7x24 technology environments with executive management/operations responsibility across the following disciplines: Strategic Planning, Financial and Operating Systems Development, Website Development, Mobile Computing, Software Development, Market Sales and Support, Network Design, Telecommunications and Storage Area Network Technologies, VMware Virtualization, Administration and Management, and Security.
    • 15 years experience managing and/or directing an IT operation.
    • 5 years experience working in the gaming industry is preferred.
    • Experience in strategic planning and execution.
    • Considerable knowledge of business theory, business processes, management, budgeting, and business office operations.
    • Good understanding of computer systems characteristics, features, and integration capabilities.
    • Experience with systems design and development from business requirements analysis through to day-to-day management.
    • Proven experience in IT planning, organization, and development.
    • Excellent understanding of project management principles.
    • Superior understanding of the organization’s goals and objectives.
    • Demonstrated ability to apply IT in solving business problems.
    • In-depth knowledge of applicable laws and regulations as they relate to IT.
    • Strong understanding of human resource management principles, practices, and procedures.
    • Proven leadership ability.
    • Strong negotiating skills.
    • Ability to set and manage priorities judiciously.
    • Strong relationship builder, constantly being a progress builder, with highly developed strengths in highly sensitive and political environments.
    • Must obtain and maintain a Class “A” Gaming License issued
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    instant000instant000 Member Posts: 1,745
    SilentBob82:

    Member since Sep 2005, makes his first post in October 2013!

    Talk about being true to his name!

    The project manager role would be better for getting you pointed toward your end goal. In many organizations that I have seen, the project managers work across departments a bit more than an information security specialist would. This would enable one to gain better business knowledge, and a leg up for higher positions than an information security specialist. An information security specialist would probably have a road to the security officer role, which would not help you get to where you want to go.

    Security people tend to get a bad name because of past dealings people have with security ninjas who take confidentiality and integrity as more important than availability. The business needs availability to function! Balance the security triad, but realize that people with a security background may be stereotyped as less willing to provide availability. This stereotype would keep you out of higher roles, and may be difficult to overcome.

    I hope this helps you to decide!
    Currently Working: CCIE R&S
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    shodownshodown Member Posts: 2,271
    If you want a CTO/CIO position its best to get a MBA as soon as you can. You already have more than enough tech skills. I'm not sure if any of those lead to the path you want. I have very seldom seen PM's move into high management position other than higher PM roles. The people who I've seen move up are the people who have lead roles then take the helm at that department or a sister department. From there I've seen those managers move into Director positions. I cant' say for sure what your current job looks for, but I would speak with the CTO/CIO at your job and see what they had in the past.
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    MSP-ITMSP-IT Member Posts: 752 ■■■□□□□□□□
    What type of education do you have?
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    PolynomialPolynomial Member Posts: 365
    This is my goal too OP, one that I imagine is going to take a long, long time.

    Some of the best advice I received recently was to get education credentials completed while I still have time (I'm 23). I'll be done with my (first) Master's this summer.

    Master degrees don't expire.

    Additionally, I think the project manager role makes more sense to me if you want to roll that into a CIO position.
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    shodownshodown Member Posts: 2,271
    @polynomial


    I have to disagree with you on master degree's don't expire. They don't expire in a since that you can have them on your resume forever. However this is talked about online a lot. If you get MBA and you don't use in in a certain amount of time (5 years I hear) then its like you never had it. People are going to wonder why you didn't get a MBA level position some time ago and not allow you into there management ranks
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    PolynomialPolynomial Member Posts: 365
    Degrees do not expire. This is a fact.

    Using the MBA as an example though is rather weak as that degree more than any other one is tied to the institution issuing it.

    Obviously an MBA is not going to do you anything if you suddenly decide one day to join the circus, heh.
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    paul78paul78 Member Posts: 3,016 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Just my 2 cents - but I don't particularly belief that there is a one-size fits all career progression track to being a C-level IT manager. At least from my particular experience vantage, I've seen IT and managers C-level managers who have come from all different IT paths. The one analogous trait that I've observed is that C-level IT managers are leaders first and foremost. They also tend to have strong business acumen.

    Also, from a management perspective, an IT manager's role and responsibility can vary greatly depending on the size of the corporation and the type of industry.

    @OP - neither position that you described appear to be management positions. Are actually in a management role today? If not, perhaps you may be better off if you waited until a management position is available. Or seek positions outside your current employer.

    Good luck on your journey!
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    PolynomialPolynomial Member Posts: 365
    paul78 wrote: »
    @OP - neither position that you described appear to be management positions. Are actually in a management role today? If not, perhaps you may be better off if you waited until a management position is available. Or seek positions outside your current employer.

    My gut feeling really says spending a few years as an IT project manager would be highly relevant to landing a CIO position.
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    paul78paul78 Member Posts: 3,016 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Polynomial wrote: »
    My gut feeling really says spending a few years as an IT project manager would be highly relevant to landing a CIO position.
    It all depends. Most CIO's and VP's that I know have never been project managers. But that could be the nature of the industry that I work in.
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    shodownshodown Member Posts: 2,271
    paul78 wrote: »
    It all depends. Most CIO's and VP's that I know have never been project managers. But that could be the nature of the industry that I work in.

    I was going to say the same thing. I haven't met a C level who came from the project manager ranks. I'm not saying its not possible, but I have yet to meet one. Most I have met have come from the engineering/business ranks.
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    ptilsenptilsen Member Posts: 2,835 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Three letters: MBA

    Actual CIO and CTO backgrounds absolutely vary, but I've never seen a CTO or CIO job posting that doesn't specify an MBA. Some do say "master's degree in business or [other relevant fields]," but I've never seen one that wasn't looking for MBA, and most seem to require it.

    On top of that, you really just need experience in being involved in big technology decisions and ideally managing people. Being a lead or manager of some kind is going to be a requirement. How you get there from an SA role is trickier. Mostly, these are not very technical positions, but if you were able to move into an architect or service management role -- very feasible from an SA role -- then you'd be on the right track, IMO.

    Also, while PMs probably don't commonly go on to become CTOs or CIOs, a technology PM seems like a much, much better choice for getting into such a role than any kind of technical position.
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    sadfjlfdo24sadfjlfdo24 Banned Posts: 59 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Another option is to forego working for someone else and start your own business. MBA is only as good as the amount of money you dont spend on it + salary you'll get from job offers + networking you'll get from having it. Otherwise its a waste of your time, and ultimately worse, your money.
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    SilentBob82SilentBob82 Member Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you all for the great advice. I think I am going to go the direction of project management, but additionally focus on achieving the CISSP and CISM to show I have a overall understanding of security from a management perspective. Then achieve a high level IT management position and if it makes sense at that time with my career to move forward with an MBA then I will do so in order to achieve CIO/CTO status
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