Furthering the CIO

William Scales wouldn’t be where he is today — and wouldn’t be able to think much about where he might go tomorrow — were it not for two executive education programs. In 1985, as a data processing manager at Wachovia Bank, he enrolled in a two-week course in leadership and financial management for nonfinancial managers. Six years later, as Wachovia’s senior VP and manager of Information Services, he completed an abbreviated MBA program. Today, the 50-year-old Scales is CIO of the wholesale banking businesses at PNC Bank.

Scales says the programs have made him a more competent and confident executive. “The financial management for nonfinancial managers prepared me for managing operating budgets in the millions of dollars and helped me understand how organizations are capitalized, how they raise funds, and how they have to operate within a corporate budget,” he says.

The more generalized program gave him a better understanding of how all the different functions in a business work together. That helps him figure out what he needs to do to convince every department and employee to row in the same direction in order to achieve business goals.

“Executive education programs are as critical to CIOs as they are to any other senior executive,” says Reynold Lewke, a partner with executive recruitment firm Egon Zehnder International. And as the number of business executives taking these courses far outweighs the number of CIOs, they provide a way to gain the perspective of other executives.

“CIOs need to take the courses the other executives are taking so that they can continue to be good business partners,” adds Lewke.

As Scales says, “Taking courses in sales, marketing and finance helped me become a better general manager, not just a better IT manager.”

That, of course, and hard work.