A woman with a career doubt. MSE or MSIT rout to becoming a CIO.

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by TechEmpress, Feb 22, 2015.

  1. TechEmpress

    TechEmpress New Member

    Likes Received:
    Greetings: I'm a senior undergraduate student. I'll be graduating this may form a bachelor of science in Bioinformatics with a minor in Computer Science.

    My ultimate career goal is to become a CIO, but I don't want to do a master in information technology. Because this is a position that requires a lot of experience I want to pursuit a career as a Software Engineer before of becoming a CIO. I really love software development. I even thought of getting a PhD, but I don't enjoy too much the process of research and I find more appealing the career of a Software Engineer > Software Architect > Business.

    I have various option for a master degree these includes:
    Penn State Online Master in Software Engineering 36k
    Georgia Tech Online Master in Computer Science with specialization in Software Engineering and Databases. 7k

    Later, (with several years in the industry) I want to pursuit an MBA from CMU or a MBA from a top school that is focused in technology.

    I have a 4.0 GPA, sadly my GRE scores weren't too high and since I don't need a Master Degree in SE to become a software engineer is the main reason I want to attend to that master in the online mode. Also, because I was offered a job at a local firm that pays me 64k/year and will help me with the master costs.

    Now...my doubt here is that I lack of good mentors in my university...and I wanted to know your input, and your advises on which program should I choose or if I really really have to go through the Master of Information Technology to become a CIO.

    I see the job of the CIO as one of challenges and complexities that requires you to be a tech expert, a good communicator and a good manager with a lot of business knowledge. And that I found amazing.

  2. novadar

    novadar Member

    Likes Received:
    Make no mistake about it the CIO is all about Business, the Business of making sure the organization uses IT assets most efficiently. An MBA tends to be the most common degree for a CIO to hold. CIOs are way less technical on average, even if they start out in a very technical role. It is virtually impossible for them to be a strong business leader and be totally up to speed on the latest aspects of any particular technology.

    Source: 16+ years of observations as an IT professional.
  3. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Active Member

    Likes Received:
    HR Business Partner
    Syracuse, NY
    I'm an HR person at a tech focused company. We are very large. We are publicly traded. I don't like to splatter my company's name on the internet, but I can guarantee that you've heard of us. Our major focus is on electrical engineering moreso than software, but here are a few thoughts:

    At the C-level, technical ability takes a backseat to business acumen. A good CIO will spend the language of his/her division. But at the end of the day, I have seen incredibly talented people with amazing technical ability passed over for promotion in favor of a person with a more modest tech background and a stronger business background.

    We obviously don't hire a new CIO every year. But you have to look at the overall pipeline (i.e., the path leading up to the CIO seat). In our company, the moment of truth comes at the Director to Vice President promotion. This is where a lot of people get stuck.

    It sort of looks like a bit like a Bell curve, there is a certain "sweet spot" where being an amazing technician carries you. Then the returns on technical ability begin to diminish. As you begin leading more projects and actually doing less software development, your leadership and business skills (or lack thereof) become much more prominent.

    I have seen people move up through the ranks from software developers and engineers. An MBA is a pretty solid degree for this path. We also have an engineer who has an MBA and an MS in Engineering Management. He earned the MS when he was at a place like you. He earned the MBA when he began getting closer to the top and realizing that he needed a broader business background to breech the vast divide that separates a senior engineering manager from an engineering executive.

    So I'm not going to tell you what you should do. The reality is, for every story, there are a dozen others that show people rising to the executive suite with a different education. I just wanted to share this example to try to give you a little perspective.

    At the end of the day, pursuing quality MBA programs is not a bad strategy.

    However, if I were you, I would give myself the freedom to evolve in my dreams. Right now you want to be a CIO. But you're also finding that you really enjoy software development. Unless you are a CIO at a very small firm, the two paths are mutually exclusive.

    My best friend came to the same company where I work about six years ago. He has an Ivy League Masters in Statistics and an MBA from Fordham. He came in hoping to rise through the ranks and make VP in less than seven years. But two years in, they gave him a team of five people, a direct line to the CFO, and a generous budget to basically build the company's analytics program from the ground up. Not only does he love his job, but, unlike our VPs, he works a clean 40 hour week. He told me that, at this stage, he would rather make his $125k with a 40 hour work week than the $400k for a non-exec VP who lives out of his suitcase and spends more time in Japan than in his actual office.

    Options are good. But dreams often evolve as you gain experience. That's OK too.

Share This Page