The Adventures of an IT Leader by Robert Austin; Richard Nolan; and Shannon O’Donnell


This is a fiction book about Jim Barton who transitions from the head of loan operations to Chief Information Officer (CIO) even though he lacks any IT knowledge. He struggles to understand his new position and how IT differs than typical programs. The revenue comes from in-house billing and really it is their job to make things as secure as possible within the provided funding. This is difficult because it means acknowledging risks are always possible, but working to mitigate the largest is key. There is only so much funding to be had and they need to make sure the right ratio is spent on existing infrastructure and systems and the rest on new technologies. This is difficult as there is no right answer necessarily. He must also work to understand how his managers don’t fully have a thorough understanding of what their employees do because the technology advances so quickly. In board meetings he needs to convey information in such a manner others can understand it. There was an attack and Jim had to work with his team to provide the best possible plan of action for the CEO to determine what to do. His ability to manage and lead within the year lead to two great opportunities at the end.

Influence on me:

First, it provided information on what a CIO is and does. Then the relationships between the executive leadership and next level managers could be seen. There was mention of the doctrine of completed staff work. This is beneficial to me because I need to keep in mind that as I progress in my career it is my job to present issues and best possible solutions to my superiors. This enables them to make the decision and move on. Additionally, throughout the book, Jim is humble and seeks growth throughout. He is more than aware his lack of knowledge can make things harder than they need to be and he does a great job trying to learn as much as possible. He also speaks with a variety of people to get their take on various scenarios. This helps him make effective decisions and tap into the expertise that other people have to offer. Having a solid network such as this is critical to be as successful as possible.

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