Opportunities for Patrick Meehan to converse with technology peers are few and far between. The CTO for Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg, a fine arts auction and brokerage firm in New York, said that while IT leaders in industries like banking and insurance typically network with each other, it’s harder for him to find colleagues who share his professional struggles.

That’s one reason Meehan is attending the first Gartner CIO Boot Camp, a four-day intensive training and interaction program for tech execs that will be held Feb. 4 to 7, 2003, at The Doral Arrowwood Resort in Rye Brook, NY. The first-year CTO hopes that networking with peers will provide him a step up in his “new age” CTO role. He’s just one of dozens of tech leaders expected to attend the ever growing professional boot camp events held each year.

More about CIO boot camp
CIO boot camps aren’t new—IT research firms have been running them for years—but their popularity seems to be increasing. In August 2002, META Group graduated its 700th executive from its CIO boot camp program, which promises to turn CIOs into CEOs. Demand was so high for META’s 14th consecutive event this past November that 75 IT leaders signed up, prompting META to raise its usual attendance limit from 55 participants. The cost for META’s two-and-a-half-day CIO development course is $2,995, which includes the sessions, a binder with all the presentations, and food during the event. The next CIO program is April 1-3, 2003.

Gartner’s CIO boot camp, which has an attendance limit of 25 participants, is an outgrowth of its Executive Program (EXP), an exclusive members-only group that provides research, advice, and networking opportunities specifically for CIOs. The eight-year-old EXP group has about 1,600 members, with 800 in North America, but boot camp participants do not have to be members of the EXP.

Six imperatives for CIO success
The primary objective of Gartner’s boot camp is to “speed the success cycle of CIOs,” according to Marianne Broadbent, group VP and head of research for Gartner’s Executive Programs Worldwide. The lone registration requirement is that participants have a CIO title or level of responsibility within their organization. The camp’s curriculum is focused around six imperatives that every CIO must master:

  • Lead
  • Anticipate
  • Strategize
  • Organize
  • Deliver
  • Measure

Those imperatives were derived from Gartner research efforts with executive search firm Korn/Ferry last year. A suite of skills that CIOs need to be effective was developed within that framework, Broadbent said. During the boot camp, participants can focus on those skills and “come up to speed very quickly on what it takes to be an effective CIO.”

“Many of our staff are actually former CIOs, and we have a number of experienced CIOs involved in the program who will be sharing their experiences, as well,” Broadbent said. While participant case studies and diagnostic tools are part of the boot camp experience, the event also offers real-life experience.

“It’s not just a combination of a bunch of presentations in half a dozen topic areas,” she added. “It’s been developed very, very deliberately, based on what we know makes CIOs effective.”

The $7,500 fee for Gartner’s CIO boot camp program includes executive accommodations, all meals, and roundtrip airport transfers as well as take-home materials like diagnostic tools, case studies, and a 90-day action plan based on the specific needs and goals of the participant’s organization.

Networking opportunities among working CIOs
Meehan said he hopes to meet up with other professionals who are “in the same boat” to discuss the kinds of issues they’re facing from both a business and technology perspective. To create that type of experience, Broadbent said Gartner has turned away would-be CIOs from its program—accepting current CIO titleholders only. Mixing aspiring CIOs with those already facing real issues would dilute the value of the event for CIOs, she explained. However, Gartner is considering developing a program for aspiring CIOs.

“If you have a whole mix of people, like architects and planners and systems analysts, in with CIOs, you find that the learning and the networking and the direction is not quite the same,” Broadbent explained.

Meehan, who has been a CTO for a little over a year, said the boot camp will be a good opportunity to begin networking with peers on his level and to learn some basic skills that he may have missed on his way to the CTO position. He said he expects his peers to help him with the portions of his job that aren’t easily quantified.

“I run a tight ship; I deliver under budget and on time, if not early; and I think that’s about as good as anybody can expect,” Meehan said. “But only 50 percent of my role is to manage the cost center. The other part is to be a contributor to the bottom line, and that’s kind of the new age role that I need a lot of help with.”

Broadbent said the limited number of participants at boot camp events increases the opportunity for networking—with both fellow CIOs and Gartner technology analysts—to seek out specific, actionable information to take back to work.

That’s exactly what Meehan wants to hear. He said he hopes to find a lot of active discussion and workshop opportunities that will help him nail down a plan of action.

“That will be very valuable to my company, and that makes it really worth the price of admission,” he said. ”Getting some information spoken to me or walking away with a nice CD of PowerPoints is not.”