Find out how senior IT leaders can better present themselves for career advancement.
Aaron Geiger is the chief technology officer with Alberici Group, Inc. He made the move from ARCO National Construction Company and is a member of the MES Advisory Board. I recently chatted with him about the new position and how midmarket IT leaders can advance in their careers and improve their leadership prospects.
Below is a transcript of our conversation.
MES: You recently switched companies to assume the role of CTO of Alberici. What attracted you to the new position?
Geiger: Two key traits attracted me to the CTO role at Alberici. First, Alberici has a highly collaborative and team-oriented culture, which is a great fit to my approach to leadership. Second, Alberici’s leadership team has a clear commitment to technology and its role in driving productivity and improving the construction process. I have found throughout my career that having good alignment with these two organizational traits (culture and leadership commitment) is a key to being successful and happy in your role.
MES: What is your advice to fellow CIOs to make a smooth transition to a new company?
Geiger: The main piece of advice I can offer is this: Work with leadership on creating a 90-day onboarding plan, within the first week. This plan should help guide you in meeting leaders within the organization, highlighting key problems or issues with technology to investigate, and helping to learn the company’s business operations. Part of this plan should be adopting a “listen and learn” approach. Many technology leaders can be too quick to start making changes, before they understand the business and the entire technology stack. Work with your technology team to learn about the stack and where the opportunities are, but don’t be quick to act until you can develop a roadmap with a vision.
MES: You probably learned a lot about how to package and present yourself and skills to a new employer. What advice can you pass along about how senior IT leaders can better present themselves for career advancement?
Geiger: Reimagine your resume as an initiatives/results story instead of a skills story. Telling the story of how a major initiative was accomplished and the value it created for the business is much more compelling than listing your skills. When you are learning about prospective companies and interviewing, focus your questions on culture, leadership, and process. Approach the interview process with you interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. If there is a good fit on culture and leadership, the details usually fall into place.
MES: Speaking of career advancement, we hear lots of talk these days that tech leaders could make the best CEOs in the future. Do you believe that is true and why or why not?
Geiger: I believe this is becoming more true year on year. Technology leaders, and those that work in technology, have a unique requirement to both interact and understand the entire business from top to bottom. This requirement also brings a unique insight and perspective on where value can be created. Technology leaders that can fully leverage this unique insight will help drive and improve the business and will find success.
MES: What skill set should senior IT leaders focus on to advance their careers?
Geiger: Two main areas come to mind: change management and business acumen. Preparing the organization for a change, and then executing that change while keeping everyone aligned to the goal, is a difficult thing to get right and something I am always working on. Communication, persuasion and project management skills all come into play, along with thinking about how a change “feels” for those that it impacts.
Business acumen for me simply means “understanding the basics of your industry and your company, enough to find opportunities to add value”. I have found that, by knowing the basics and listening very closely and partnering with the experts in each area, lots of opportunities can be found.