Software Development

Top ten undergraduate courses for the CIO track

I was recently asked by a prospective undergraduate student what courses she should take if she wanted to become a CIO. Here is my version of the top ten classes that have an impact on the CIO role in order of how frequently the skills learned are used in the course of a month in the life of a CIO.

I was recently asked by a prospective undergraduate student what courses she should take if she wanted to become a CIO. Here is my version of the top ten classes that have an impact on the CIO role in order of how frequently the skills learned are used in the course of a month in the life of a CIO.

  1. MG-200 Interpersonal Relations in Management: Focusing on working with others, employees, peers, managers, vendors, etc. There are various layers of detail to this subject that all play a role in business relationships, but in general, knowing who to talk to, when to talk to them, and knowing how to leverage these relationships is probably the largest part of the CIO job.
  2. FI-300 Principles of Accounting and Finance: Corporate structures, financing options for projects and initiatives, ufinancial metrics, financial statements and how they are influenced all play a key role in defining and developing what technology initiative to pursue and what should be part of the business case.
  3. IPM 300 Business Process and Systems: Business process design, modeling and mapping. This one is key to understanding how to flowchart business processes and model more efficient processes. It really provides an efficient way to look at business processes, no matter what department or industry, and get enough detail to understand how it all works and, later, how to best apply technology to it.
  4. IPM 300 Decision Support and Business Intelligence: Helps you understand the data that organizations capture and how to get at it, design it, and deliver it in digestible chunks that allow business leaders to make decisions. One of the opportunities here is designing information so that decisions are coordinated and limiting the opportunities to make conflicting decisions.
  5. IB 400 International Business Management: Although I don't use it currently, in my previous positions this came in real handy. This helps show you that the world is not that big after all. It lets you review many of the interesting business aspects, regulatory environments, and market structures of business abroad.
  6. ES 300 Entrepreneurial Studies: This class helps with the understanding of funding models, how to get and raise money for new ventures or projects. Additionally, courses like this can teach you good habits about voraciously reading everything you can get your hands on about your industry, your markets, etc.
  7. ST 101 Fundamentals of Operational Statistics: Although traditional statistics show you how to take tons of data and identify means and medians, Operational Statistics provides a practical business view on how you can use stats to make an impact on business. In essence, it is more practical than theoretical. Studies of the effects of variation on predictable systems, X-bar and control charts, and using statistics to measure processes are all very useful.
  8. COM 200 Business Communications: The use of correspondence, e-mail, and communication styles. We have all seen how bad the writing is in the business world. This course lets you learn to what to communicate and how to communicate it before you blast the entire company with useless info. It also helps with presentation delivery and development.
  9. CS 200 Database Architectures: The granular design of data structures in a database comes in handy when looking at ERP applications and internal software development. It is not so much that you are building database structures every day, but it influences how you think about these things.
  10. CS 400 Programming in C#/Java: Understanding at least one object-oriented programming language is a big help. You may not be coding everyday, but it influences how you think. Principles of inheritance and class creation help in the software selection or design processes.

There are also some non-degree courses I would recommend, such as one that deals in the use of Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet applications.

6 comments
BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Code would always be too cumbersome.You could never envision and create with code.Coders would always be striving for something easier.

No User
No User

These are fine selections I see where you are going I had several of these or similar classes I can't say the course numbers were the same what college did you get them from? I think that you need to expand the list and add more then 2 core IT selections. Numbers 9 and 10 are typical 4 year college Computer Science classes but 1 - 8 are not and they are much needed. However as I have said many times what good is a CS degree that doesn't include Operating Systems classes? Both Unix/Linux and Windows are required and I would add Computer Forensics, Security, Networking and DB programing SQL and Oracle and Assembly language. Also, toss in Auditing, Disaster Recovery and Policy. I would also kick in Hardware such as A+. I would say at least 2 levels of each including your top 10. The bottom line is no matter how much business savoy you have CIO is the very top IT job and perhaps minus some rare circumstances you NEED someone who is very well rounded and deeply rooted in IT for that after all is at the very heart of the job. The CIO is bringing to business the best solution(s) IT has to best meet their needs at a price they can afford. That includes Operations. Those solutions must make sense to the current state and needs and depending on the state of the business it may also require more distant future needs. The CIO is also responsible for the IT operations although the bigger the company the more levels of folks there are to deal with the hands on of both IT infrastructure and workforce as well as the management of it. The CIO still has the final word and is kept apprised of the goings on although it would not be expected to be at the hands on level of day to day operations that is for those various levels to deal with. CIO and CTO seem to blur where CIO has been around for a long time CTO is relatively new and the situation varies company to company although the general description doesn't. Often you have one and not the other and roles blur and duties are redefined. And of course you have the more recent CSO designation which can blur with CTO but should be a rather purest position in large companies. Typically the bigger the company the purer they are to their predefined roles at least (IMHO). Otherwise you have your typical MBA and MBA with International business policy not an IT pro for the Top IT position.

sidekick
sidekick

I was thinking after I finished my BS in IT, I would take that and 9 years IT experience and move on to an MBA with the idea of eventually reaching a CIO type position. Just curious what thoughts you or anyone for that matter had on that.

Digital_Daemon
Digital_Daemon

Peirce College out of Philadelphia PA has a fantastic undergrad program for those who are ambitious enough to enroll. The track is in Information Security. Within the meat of the program, the student will cover and attempt to master each of the 10 domains inside the CBK for CISSP certification. Coupling those vital classes with other Gen Ed. classes, pointed electives and few years of industry experience could very well send each graduate from the B.S. in I.S. off directly into a management-level position in government or industry. If you would like to learn more about this program check out their website at http://www.peirce.edu

jascc1
jascc1

....classes relating to Project Management. I guess some of the suggestions you had touched on it, but typically a CIO will lead a steering commitee or PPO in an organization and I would think those concepts will prove quite worthwhile in a CIO's daily.

Jay Rollins
Jay Rollins

But, you have to look at the value you get out of it. I have one, but if I had a do-over, I would have taken the 2 years off from work and gone after a Wharton, Sloan, Harvard, Stanford, etc. MBA. Reason being is the most important aspect of an MBA program is the network you build while attending. The majority of the people you work with during the program will end up being business associates, deal makers, sales folks or customers. As an example, Bain Capital used to be almost all Harvard grads. My HO

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