CIOs can falter outside of technology because they're unwilling to delegate or unable to strategize for an entire company rather than just one department, according to Shawn Farshchi, chief operating officer of Coremetrics, a marketing statistics and software firm in San Mateo, Calif.
Farshchi, 49, was CIO at DHL Airways, BroadVision and WebEx, and says each of those jobs brought a succession of increasing business responsibilities. These included product management at BroadVision, which makes Web software, and making sales calls on potential customers at WebEx, the online conferencing service. "Some CIOs can't bring themselves out of the technology world," he says. "I got to appreciate the non-technical aspects of life."
Like Ivy League alumni, CIOs who break into non-technical senior ranks advocate for CIOs coming up. Farshchi, who took the COO position at Coremetrics last year, hopes to hire a chief information officer soon at the growing company. And when he does, he will make sure that person reports to him, not the chief financial officer.
"I want someone who will be part of executive staff because I'll tell you, the CIO is a critical function in a company," he says. "Done right, it adds huge value to the business."
But, he adds, "I'll be tougher as a boss for a CIO because I have pretty high expectations without any kind of hesitation that maybe they're not possible."