Chief Technologists Can Be CEOs!

by Julia Fernandes    Dec 17, 2004

CIOs, CTOs and heads of IT can become CEOs! Sounds too far-fetched? No, believes M. K. Mittal, deputy general manager-information technology, IFCI Ltd - a non-banking financial institution.

In an engaging conversation with CXOtoday, Mittal threw a gauntlet - if a finance or a marketing person can become a CEO, why cannot a CIO? Interestingly, the thought arose after Mittal himself became a board member of several companies. He spoke with felicity as to how collective thought process needs to be initiated among all CIOs.

Mittal explained that for a chief technologist to make the transition to CEO, he should be armed with financial knowledge, as after all business finally boils down to figures, ratios and numbers. With more than thirteen and a half years of experience at IFCI, the warm and unassuming Mittal also additionally handles the SLR portfolio of the organization.

So, are these early signs of a re-definition of the new age architect - the CIO? And, if it so where does the line between the CIO and the CEO blur?

According to Mittal, a CIO in the context of IT is one who designs change much before it is agreed that the change will be accepted. He is the one responsible for visualizing, selling the concept, and then making sure that it is implemented.

In future, could it be possible for a CIO to measure the amount of capital allocated towards the deployment of technology? In other words, taking key decisions of where to tighten the purse strings and where to let loose in terms of IT investments could directly impact the bottomline of a company.

However, all CIOs cannot become CEOs, asserts a pragmatic Mittal. According to him, key qualities of leadership skills, domain expertise and financial knowledge, will enable the potential CEOs to differentiate themselves from the regular CIOs.

The views expressed in this article are solely the personal opinions of MK Mittal and it in no way reflects IFCI’s opinion.