Finding your true north
Following his three-year tenure as the group ICT manager at the Council, and a further three months as acting general manager of operations — Holley started his own IT consultancy, and now works as the general manager of operations at loyalty marketing company Visible Results.
He says moving beyond the CIO role was an easy decision to make.
“By the time you’re a CIO you’d better know where your passions are or you’ll never be satisfied with your job.”
Holley says not all CIOs and IT executives have the same view, and many he has spoken to have told him they are comfortable in their roles if not completely satisfied. Holley says the political nature of some senior executive positions makes it off-putting for some to move up to the boardroom, and similarly not everyone is willing to take the risk to leave their job or start a new business.
“If you can’t let go of the toys and always want to be down with the technology you need to make that decision early on. Most likely if you have a strong technology bent, you may decide you don’t want to go beyond that,” says Holley. “For me there was always a desire to do more than just IT.”
Holley says for those looking to move beyond being a CIO, consulting or operational management roles like his are very well suited to the CIO skill set.
“If you’re a good CIO you’re looking to improve the organisation as a whole. You have probably the most holistic view of the company, which gives you very critical experiences you need as an operations manager,” says Holley.
Holley advises that CIOs should broaden their skill base while working in their current positions to prepare them for the future. Technology update courses are a given, but finance and business courses are a valuable addition. Holley studied for his Diploma in Business Operation Management while working at an Apple reseller in the 1990s.
Leadership and people management skills are critical in higher roles or when starting your own company, says Holley. Unfortunately, New Zealand companies have very poor leadership training processes, he adds.
“If you’re going to be successful at senior management it’s not just about being technically proficient, it’s about being a good leader,” says Holley.
“One of the challenges for CIOs is building leadership competencies. Often companies substitute quality mentorships with conferences on the subject of leadership.”
Holley’s expectation of leadership stems from his several stints in the New Zealand and Canadian military, which began in the late 1980s and continues today in a directorial role.
Holley says that in the army your key performance indicators include how well your subordinates are trained. Mentors are readily assigned in order to train the next generation.
“On the battlefield you need to train up the people beneath you because if you get killed, someone needs to be able to step up and take over. We should have the same mentality in business,” says Holley.
Air New Zealand is one company that Holley ranks highly for doing things right. He says the airline encourages mentorship programmes and also allows staff who are unsatisfied to move across the company, or in some cases move to a different company to learn new skills with the hope one day they will bring those skills back to Air New Zealand.
Sim Ahmed (@simantics) is a reporter for CIO New Zealand.
Follow CIO on
Download CIO for your tablet here.
Click here to subscribe to CIO.
Sign up to receive free CIO newsletters.
CIO100 2013 Overview: Chief transformation officer
CIOs are across a raft of programmes using disruptive and traditional technology - effectively leading change throughout the organisation in a tough economy.
Fighting for privacy
An interview with Kaliya Hamlin, aka 'Identity Woman' and head of the Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium, which aims to give individuals control over their personal data and how it is used by corporations.
- New Zealand’s IT leaders announced at CIO Awards
- Amazon CTO: Stop spending money on ‘undifferentiated heavy lifting’
- CIO Agenda: Innovate and transform on the ‘third platform’
- Five ways to create a collaborative risk management program
- BlackBerry pitches to NZ businesses in bid to recapture market share
CONNECT WITH @ CIO NZ
CIO is bringing together the best of MIS NZ and CIO, the new look CIO is the only magazine that focuses on the unique management needs of senior IT professionals.
Get the latest news from CIO delivered via email.
CIO 100 REPORT
The definitive guide to New Zealand's largest and most significant ICT users.
READ NOW »