Becoming a successful CIO takes a lot of hard work and there are many challenges as an executive moves up the corporate ladder. But getting to the top IT spot is only half the battle -- staying there and continuing to be successful leader, while not burning out, can be just as difficult.
This year's Elite 8 2003 issue, the fifth annual special edition of Insurance & Technology magazine that profiles some of the top IT leaders in the industry, includes technology best practices, management techniques, life/work balance and more.
For instance, most successful CIOs do not work 80-plus hours a week consistently, according to Andrea Anania, chief information officer at Philadelphia-based CIGNA, and an Elite 8 award winner in 1999. When it comes to personal time, "I think that you have to make it a priority," she says. "You have to make time for yourself. One mistake that people make is that they feel that there is not time for hobbies or family. That is really a fallacy."
However, finding the time for family and personal time is a challenge, admits Judy Campbell, also a 1999 Elite 8 Award winner, and CIO at New York Life (New York). "It takes a lot of practice to find the balance," Campbell says. "I raised three daughters. You have to be able to work at it. You can have a life and hobbies."
The danger with overwork, CIGNA's Anania adds, is that the hours quickly add up and ultimately reduce productivity. "You have to take time off of work so you do not burn out," she advises. "Take more time away from work. If you think working 80 hours a week is productive, it's not. If you work 50, your thinking is sharper and you will be more productive."
And if you are spending all of your time at the office, focusing on IT, you start to lose perspective. "The most effective leaders tend to be well-rounded," Anania says. "If you are all work and no play, you will not be as effective. I am a big advocate of work hard, play hard."
New York Life's Campbell agrees effective leaders should have more than one interest. "I am a fanatical reader of fiction," she says. "It is important to have an appreciation of the arts, because both the left and right sides of the brain are equally important. It makes me a better CIO."
For Stephen Yates, president of USAA Information Technology Co. (San Antonio), the IT company for USAA, successful CIOs need to know when to say no. "This is a challenge," Yates says. "Some weeks go pretty well and others don't. When it gets to a breaking point, I have to just say no."
And finding time away is always important. "I do take a vacation every year with family, and I take my wife along on a few business events each year," Yates adds. "I make sure my family enjoys the financial benefits of my job. I do have a few toys that help me 'escape' occasionally. I ride a motorcycle to work about once a week and on the weekends with friends. My 22-year-old son and I just spent a week riding our motorcycles around New Mexico and southwest Colorado. It was beautiful."
For more on how successful CIOs balance work and life, visit www.insurancetech.com/story/IST20031008S0001. To view the full Elite 8 2003 issue, including profiles of this year's Elite 8 Award winners, visit www.insurancetech.com later this week.
Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio