Advice for CIOs Looking for New Challenges

Arun Manansingh is the author of “A CIO’s Voice,” considered one of the Top 30 must-read blogs for CIOs to read. He’s also in search of a job, which makes his blog an interesting read for CIOs looking for a new role.

Manansingh was CIO for The Judlau Companies. Previously, he was senior vice president and department head responsible for leading and leveraging technology for operations in NYC and the UK for SMBC Leasing and Finance Inc. for over 11 years. And now, he states, “I am currently searching for my next senior IT leadership role.”

It’s not been an easy road. “The last few months I have been interviewing with firms for the top IT spot. It has been difficult. I have come across several organizations with an interview process that is very unprofessional,” he says in a post titled “The Unprofessionals.”

He laments being interviewed by people who would potentially report to him. “I personally don’t like firms that have junior staff interview senior staff. Does this happen to the CEO or CFO? I doubt it,” he writes.

In that same interview process, Manansingh also faced the challenge most CIO candidates do: developing a plan of action that leaves you feeling like you have become an unpaid consultant when you don’t get hired. As one commenter noted on his blog, “The overall feeling from candidates is that these companies are using job candidates to generate business ideas for free, which is despicable.”

How to handle an organization that does this to you? “As a professional I thank them and wished them best on their search. Part of me was thankful I was eliminated,” Manansingh says.

He also identifies potential red flags in the interview process that should help others seeking CIO positions. His experience came from interviewing with a small security firm in New Mexico that was looking to move in a new direction.

The first red flag for him was no talk about compensation after numerous phone interviews. It wasn’t enough to stop him from flying to New Mexico for a face-to-face meeting.

The second red flag comes when Manansingh arrives at the company, which is “a dusty little compound filled with trailers that they called their global corporate office.” The location isn’t the red flag. It’s the fact that he is not interviewing with the CEO.

The third red flag was raised after four hours of conversation about his desire for the job and what the role entails. “I started to dig deeper about metrics and processes and got the same answer. So this was a firm that wanted a CIO but did not have a foundation to build off. I also discovered that they were losing contract work due to the lack of technology experience,” he said.

In a different blog post, Manansingh helps CIOs get ready for job interviews by laying out a series of questions. As he observes, “Sitting on the opposite end on the board room table, CIOs need to understand the type of organization they will be joining. Having been on the other end several times, it is important to get a sense that you will be valuable as a CIO and most importantly have job satisfaction.”

Here are five questions (out of many) he puts forth. They’re worth noting because they are not technical in nature. A true CIO, after all, is familiar with a broad spectrum of a company and not just its behind-the-scenes technology.

  • Can you explain your company’s brand and how it has evolved?
  • Can you describe your company’s growth (or lack there of) in terms of revenue and hiring over the last 5-10 years?
  • Is this a new CIO position, or did someone leave? If someone left, why did they leave? If this is a new position why are you looking for a CIO now?
  • What is the company’s plan for the next five plus years, and how does the IT department fit into these plans?
  • What is your ideal communication style? Do you meet regularly with your team, rely heavily on e-mail, use status reports or work primarily through other means?


Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping,, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.