The celebrated author talks about what qualifies one as an award-winning CIO.
In the build-up to the inaugural 2023 CIO Awards, Tendayi Viki, renowned author, corporate innovation expert, and now one of the judges of the awards, shares his thoughts on what he considers the markings of an exceptional leader, tips for those aspiring to become leaders one day, and his excitement and anticipation ahead of the awards.
Tendayi has been a huge supporter of the CIO South Africa Community, as a guest speaker and attendee at some of the community’s interactive engagements.
- What qualities do you look for in an outstanding CIO, and how do those qualities contribute to their success?
The most important quality I look for in CIOs is ambidextrous leadership. Everytime I meet a CIO, I ask myself whether they are the type of person that can leverage the latest technology to keep the company’s core business relevant, while at the same time supporting the exploration of new value propositions and business models. The pace of change in business is so fast these days, that CIOs that are only focused on their core business will not be the most successful over the long term.
- How important do you think it is for IT professionals to continue learning and developing their skills, and what are some resources and strategies they can use to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies?
It is very important for IT professionals to continue learning and developing their skills. I think beyond keeping up with the latest technologies, all IT professionals should have a clear understanding of business models and how technology is used to create value for customers. So, learning innovation methods such as design thinking, lean startup and business model design becomes highly critical.
- What role do you see IT professionals playing in addressing some of the biggest challenges facing society today, such as climate change, healthcare, and cybersecurity?
Technology has the potential to have an exponential impact on some of the biggest challenges facing society today. But this is only possible if the technical solutions are designed in a way that aligns with natural human behavioural tendencies. If the solutions are too technical and hard to use, humans will not adopt them at scale. So the job of the IT professional is not just technology. They have to understand the nature of the big challenges in sufficient depth to create strong technology solutions that are designed with human behaviour in mind.
- What advice would you give to aspiring IT professionals who are just starting their careers, and what qualities do you think are essential for long-term success in this field?
Think beyond technology! The more you know about your customers, the business you are part of, important global trends, the communities and stakeholders you serve; the better you will be at your job. Your long term success will not be based on just clever technical solutions but on the impact that those solutions will have.
- What is the significance of events like the CIO Awards, and what does it do for the nominee, his or her organisation, and team members?
Beyond enhancing the professional careers of nominees and the brands of their organisations, there is great value in recognising and celebrating excellence. The awards help to set the right professional standards, expectations and values. This creates an aspirational atmosphere that will definitely inspire current and emerging IT professionals.
- What are you looking forward to the most at the CIO Awards?
Meeting the people! The nominees, and all who will attend. It is always great to spend time with world-class people who are excelling at their chosen profession.
Nominations for the awards are still open, so let us know who you believe deserves to grab the coveted title of CIO of the Year on the evening of 15 November by nominating them now.