For today's, and certainly tomorrow's, graduates, a career in IT won't be all that different to a career in finance, marketing or sales. Indeed, most of today's graduates who are pursuing careers outside IT are already far more technologically capable than many of today's CIOs. So perhaps another key to reaching the top in IT will have very little to do with IT and be much more about understanding the business, their customers and how to best impact profitability by working as a cohesive unit. There will be no more ‘them & us' as IT increasingly become part of ‘the business'. There have been few examples of CIOs moving into the CEOs shoes to date, at least not outside technology companies. However, in the future there must and will be more instances in industries such as banking, energy and utilities. A leadership career within IT will become increasingly relevant to taking the top job. A thorough understanding of the commercial applications of IT will become ever more essential for a CEO, whatever their background.
In summary, a graduate today needs to be able to hone change management skills; understand how to collect and interpret meaningful data to produce successful strategy; be acutely aware of how they can impact the overall business objectives and shareholder value to become the successful CIO of the future. If they are successful they won't just be prepared to be the CIO of tomorrow, but the CEO, chairman or president. A position that was unthinkable in the days when spacecraft carried less processing power than an iPod.