Next Best Options

What would you be doing right now if you weren’t an IT executive? Chances are your answer includes such activities as balancing budgets and analysing your enterprise’s bottom line, because one in five CIOs polled in a recent survey named accounting and finance as their default career choice had IT not been an option.

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm for RHI Consulting, an outsourcing firm based in Menlo Park, Calif. It prompted responses from approximately 1,400 CIO-level IT executives in a random sampling of U.S. companies with more than 100 employees. The executives were asked, “If you had not chosen a career in technology, which field would you have been most likely to pursue?”

Two hundred or so of those surveyed left that question blank; but among those who did respond, the top three alternate career choices named were: accounting and finance, listed by 21 per cent; teaching, named by 15 per cent; and engineering, cited by 11 per cent. In the “other” category, consisting of career choices mentioned each by fewer than 3 per cent of respondents, were such diverse fields as music, transportation, politics and broadcasting.

Both finance and IT positions demand math aptitude, problem-solving abilities and strong analytical skills, notes Greg Scileppi, RHI executive director, to explain the strong attraction of IT executives to the top second career choice. As for teaching, he points out that, increasingly, training is an important part of an IT executive’s repertoire. “Technology initiatives frequently require the ability to communicate complex concepts in nontechnical terms, a quality associated with effective teaching,” he says.

There’s more on RHI surveys at the company’s Web site,