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Participant thoughts

Marcel Miesen

VP ERP, Business Transformation, JTI, Switzerland

I joined the Oxford CIO Academy because my career aspiration is to be a CIO, and I wanted to understand better what the position entails and what I need to focus on to make the transition from my current role. After discovering the programme content and objectives, I believed it fit well with my own personal development plan. The Oxford programme is full on and dynamic, and delivers a good three days of learning and immersion and provides insights that stick. 

'The most significant thing that I took away from the programme was the importance of relationship-building.'

Although I was currently doing this, as in Bacardi we operate on a business-partner model, the programme really emphasised that I should be taking discussions to the higher level and opening up conversations so that they are about more than just the day-to-day running of IT and what we do next. We need to be listening to new ideas and spotting opportunities – even if they are likely to come to fruition only in the future.  During a recent two weeks in the US with my business partners I made a conscious effort to listen carefully to their needs and to be open to their ideas. It’s very easy in IT to get into the habit of immediately seeing practical problems and therefore dismissing ideas. Following the course and subsequently putting into practice my learning, I can see the benefits of engaging more deeply and positively.

One of the most illuminating parts of the programme for me was Mark Ruskino’s session ‘Every industry will be digitally remastered’.  The session was so interactive and we worked in small groups to digitise the most unlikely things – in our case, it was guitars. It gave us the opportunity to be imaginative and innovative, and it reinforced the growing realisation that ideas get knocked down too quickly in organisations because we all think too quickly about constraints – it’s not possible, it’s too expensive, no one will want it.

'In business-partner conversations we should be thinking and talking more strategically and more creatively for longer.'

Another session I enjoyed was Michael Earl’s lecture and discussion about what makes a CIO successful. I think we all recognised his points almost intuitively, but he put it together in a framework that made it clearer for me to reflect upon and work towards changing my behaviour.  This session was very complementary to the NEO profiling and David Pendleton’s session on different types of leaders. It included a personal assessment and pinpointed areas I need to focus on going forward. 

Overall, the programme was put together well, with balanced content and a lot of time available for discussions. We all stayed together in Egrove which allowed us to socialise in the evenings. It’s over meals and in the bar in the evening that you really get to know people and have the most valuable conversations, with peers who are all doing a similar role to you. It’s an opportunity to share challenges – and the realisation that we are all facing similar pressures though they’re subtly different in each case. It also gave us an opportunity to get to know more about all the various fields that the various participants came from and to get excited about someone else’s business.

I would recommend the programme for anyone who is serious about their career and wanting to become a better or more successful CIO. The speakers are excellent, the sessions are eye-opening, and it helps prepare for an exciting and innovative future. 

Contact us

Zindzi Cresswell

Business Development – Executive Education, Open Programmes

Saïd Business School

University of Oxford

T +44 (0)1865 422 514

zindzi.cresswell@sbs.ox.ac.uk