CIO or CTO

At last week’s launch of the Harvey Nash CIO survey we got round to talking about job titles.  Is there a difference between a Chief Information Officer and a Chief Technical Officer, a CIO and a CTO?  There was also talk of a CMO, a Chief Marketing Officer, which is one I had never heard.

We concluded that the title of CTO meant much more to do with the tin and string while the CIO inferred seniority of sorts.  At least I think this is the conclusion we came to.  I didn’t see the particular relevance of a marketing title to my role.

Now I get called many things, many of them no doubt too rude to mention.  My job title is Head of ICT Services but sometimes I get CIO at Durham, IT Director and even IT manager.  Does it really matter?

I am not one for getting hung up on job titles but must admit I find CTO the most uncomfortable as it would be a fraud to claim I had any real technical ability.  I was reminded of a story that my first ever regional boss told me.  He has been interviewing for a new secretary and had asked the very inappropriate (and illegal) question of what religion she was.  She replied ‘Mr S, I will be whatever religion you would like me to be.’

Little stories like that stick with you because they mean something.  In truth a title is only relevant in its context.  They should be used to describe your relevance to the particular situation you find yourself in.  When you are at an event for CIOs then CIO it will be.  When I am at work I just say I am Phil from ICT and I certainly wouldn’t get away with using my job title at home.

So when asked what my job title is in future, I will reply ‘It will be whatever you want it to be.’

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