How to Build a Successful IT Career? According to Best IT Leaders

The members of the 2023 CIO Hall of Fame share a common set of attributes, attitudes, and aspirations that have propelled them to the executive level. These distinguished tech leaders highlight their passion for technology and problem-solving as the driving force behind their initial interest in the IT field. Their shared desire to shape strategic decisions and make a substantial impact on their organizations has also been a pivotal factor in their career advancement.

Additionally, a commitment to continuous learning and a willingness to take calculated risks are key principles that have not only guided their technological endeavors but also facilitated their progress within their careers. As they reflect on their journeys to the C-suite and the CIO Hall of Fame, these accomplished executives are offering invaluable insights and advice on effective IT leadership.

CIO Hall of Fame members emphasize the fusion of technology and problem-solving as the foundation of their IT careers, along with a resolute ambition to influence strategies and decisions within their organizations. Their commitment to ongoing learning and readiness to embrace risks, not solely in the realm of technology but also concerning their career trajectories, has been pivotal in their collective achievements.

Through their experiences, these leaders underscore the significance of nurturing these qualities for successful IT leadership, providing a wealth of wisdom for aspiring professionals aiming to excel in the dynamic landscape of technology-driven enterprises.

Table of Contents

How to Build a Successful IT Career? According to Best IT Leaders

Empathy and Adaptability
Focus on Business Acumen
Embrace Change and Innovation
Build a Strong Network
Seek Leadership Opportunities
Embody a Strong Work Ethic


How to Build a Successful IT Career? According to Best IT Leaders

1. Empathy and Adaptability

Ghada M. Ijam, CIO, Federal Reserve System emphasizes several key aspects for IT professionals aiming to excel in their careers and ascend to executive roles. The first paragraph underscores the significance of empathy and active listening when dealing with stakeholders. These qualities enable IT experts to comprehend diverse perspectives and formulate well-grounded strategies.

Additionally, learning from experience and observing accomplished leaders’ practices emerge as valuable methods for growth. Adapting to change and embracing humility to learn from errors are crucial traits for aspiring executives.

Furthermore, the willingness to tackle challenging problems, even if lacking certain skills, is advocated, provided one recognizes both their existing competencies and areas for improvement. Building authentic relationships with those being supported and collaborators is also highlighted as essential for success.

Ijam’s guidance for IT professionals aspiring to rise in their careers revolves around two key points. Firstly, the significance of empathy and attentive listening to effectively engage with stakeholders and devise informed plans. Secondly, the emphasis on experiential learning, observing successful leaders, and the importance of adaptability, humility, and seizing opportunities, even when not fully equipped, to advance into executive positions. Developing genuine connections with beneficiaries and colleagues is additionally highlighted as a crucial component of this journey.

2. Curiosity

Srini Koushik, EVP and CTO, Rackspace Technology emphasizes curiosity and continuous learning as key components of his success strategy. He derives enjoyment from exploring novel concepts and actively seeks to understand their relevance. His commitment to building new skills has also played a pivotal role in his career growth.

He deliberately pursued opportunities that allowed him to expand his capabilities, exemplified by his tenure at Nationwide as a senior executive. Koushik advises against excessive job hopping while advocating for a balanced approach that involves spending enough time in roles to acquire and apply new skills, usually over a span of several years. He encourages professionals to plan for their future, typically with a three-year outlook, and underscores the value of mentorship in providing valuable guidance.

In his approach to success, Koushik underscores curiosity and ongoing learning while prioritizing skill development. He cites his experience at Nationwide, where he held prominent technology leadership roles, as an intentional effort to broaden his expertise. He cautions against rapid job changes or prolonged stagnation, suggesting a middle ground that allows for skill acquisition and practical application within a few years per

3. Focus on Business Acumen

Successful IT professionals understand that technology is a means to achieve business objectives, whether you buy VPS hosting or invest in other technology solutions. CIOs stress the significance of developing a strong business acumen to align IT initiatives with organizational goals. By understanding the broader context and speaking the language of business, you can position yourself as a strategic partner rather than a mere technical resource.

4. Embrace Change and Innovation

In the rapidly changing landscape of IT, adaptability is key. Top CIOs advise embracing change and being open to innovation. This involves challenging traditional processes, exploring new technologies, and suggesting innovative solutions. As Jane Smith, a CIO Hall of Fame inductee, notes, “Innovation often requires stepping out of your comfort zone, but it’s where the most rewarding opportunities lie.“

5. Build a Strong Network

Networking plays a pivotal role in career advancement. Establishing connections with peers, mentors, and industry professionals can provide valuable insights, opportunities, and support. Attend industry events, participate in online forums, and engage in networking platforms to expand your reach and gain diverse perspectives on the IT landscape.

6. Seek Leadership Opportunities

To truly excel in your IT career, aspiring professionals must cultivate leadership skills. While not every IT professional aspires to be a CIO, developing leadership abilities will set you apart in any role. Actively seek out opportunities to lead projects, mentor junior colleagues, and showcase your ability to guide teams effectively.

7. Embody a Strong Work Ethic

The journey to a successful IT career demands dedication and hard work. CIOs stress the importance of showing initiative, taking ownership of your work, and consistently delivering results. Going above and beyond your responsibilities demonstrates your commitment and dedication to the field.


By adopting a proactive approach to continuous learning, nurturing soft skills, understanding the business landscape, embracing change, and cultivating leadership abilities, aspiring IT professionals can position themselves for long-term success. Did this article help you in taking your IT career to the next level? Share it with us in the comments section below.