Does your dream workday involve large-scale tech projects and research, and also working with a tight-knit IT team? If so, then vice president (VP) of information technology might be just the role for you. The VP of IT’s job is as much about managing people and planning creative projects as it is about being techy. IT vice presidents have the leadership qualities and experience of business executives and the tech knowledge of a seasoned IT professional.
Keep reading for the lowdown on the VP of information technology position. You’ll also find some tips on how to start your journey toward this all-star role.
- VP of information technology job description
- What are the duties of a VP of information technology?
- The IT VP career path
- VP of information technology job outlook
- How to become a VP of information technology
- What skills and experience do I need to be a successful IT VP?
VP of information technology job description
The VP of information technology oversees all the bits and pieces that fall under an organization’s “technology” division. They might be troubleshooting a bug on their colleague’s work phone one day and installing new, office-wide software the next.
Basically, VPs of IT are the go-to for all things technology, both internally and externally. They call the shots on how their team will use technology within the organization and what technology might best fit consumer needs.
VPs of IT have top-notch organization and time management skills, and they know how to adapt and go with the flow. After all, technology trends change like the seasons – what works for an organization one quarter might not work next quarter.
IT VPs also lead IT teams, so they should be comfortable managing people on top of all the tech stuff. And, of course, VPs of IT should have extensive experience working in information technology.
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What are the duties of a VP of information technology?
A VP of information technology’s days are packed. The following are some of the VP of IT’s key responsibilities.
- Organizing and innovating new strategy
- Choosing the best software
- Overseeing IT workflow
- Giving IT guidance
- Managing and optimizing programming
1Organizing and innovating new strategy
The VP of IT’s main expertise area might be tech, but they’re also part of an organization’s high-level conversations. They’re key players in big-picture needs like outlining company strategy, recruiting top talent, and mapping out business goals. As a member of the executive team, the VP of IT’s perspective is respected – and much-needed.
2Choosing the best software
As experienced IT professionals, VPs of IT often get to decide which software platforms are the best fit for their teams. A VP of IT’s know-how on technology – and the industries surrounding it – is a huge asset. The C-suite trusts VPs of IT with software projects at all levels, from choosing the right meeting management software to researching cybersecurity systems.
3Overseeing IT workflow
It’s important for the VP of IT to keep tabs on the IT team. The VP of IT should know how to delegate tasks and how the team works together to finish them. When a VP of information technology is in tune with their team’s flow, they can figure out how to maximize productivity while minimizing micromanagement.
4Giving IT guidance
IT team members will look to the VP of IT for the best resources and practices for completing their tasks. The VP of IT should always be prepared to smooth out IT hiccups and pass along their knowledge to the rest of their team. They’ve seen it all before, so they know how to point their IT team in the right direction.
5Managing and optimizing programming
The VP of IT is just as much of a key leader in an organization’s programming as in software development. They keep their finger on the IT team’s pulse so that the organization’s tech always meets the team’s needs. When possible, they introduce new tech to help the team work more efficiently.
The IT VP career path
The road to becoming the VP of information technology isn’t always linear, but the following are typical stepping stones before and after the role.
- Program manager or IT manager
- IT director
- Senior software engineer, developer, or programmer
- VP of information technology
- Chief technology officer (CTO)
- Chief information officer (CIO)
1Program manager or IT manager
Like the VP of information technology, IT managers are leaders within the IT team. Their experience and seniority make them a great first-line resource for IT team members. IT managers are often involved in strategic conversations and project planning as well, though they typically don’t lead them.
The IT director is, simply put, more “business-y” than the IT manager. They’ll be more concerned with making sure that the organization’s tech is working for, not against, it. They’ll also keep tabs on if and how customers or clients are interacting with the company’s technology. IT directors are also more communications-oriented than program or IT managers, so strong interpersonal skills are a must.
3Senior software engineer, developer, or programmer
A senior software engineer will have the same high-level expertise as an IT director but more background in the nitty-gritty of computer programming. Senior engineers sniff out possible problems within an organization’s hardware and software and brainstorm creative solutions. They won’t usually manage a team of programmers, but they might have a say in hiring and training new team members.
4VP of information technology
After gaining experience in the previous positions, you’ll be ready to step up to a VP of IT role. This role builds off the IT manager, director, and senior software engineer positions, with more room for leading teams and spearheading big projects. VPs of IT oversee the people in the previous three positions, so knowledge about their responsibilities – and experience with them – definitely doesn’t hurt.
5Chief technology officer (CTO)
CTOs have the highest level of leadership in an organization’s technology department. On top of managing the entire IT office, they’re in charge of researching and developing new tech strategies. They also test and maintain all the current systems.
6Chief information officer (CIO)
The chief information officer (CIO) focuses on how an organization’s technology might help the non-tech teams. The CIO uses the IT department’s hard work to see which tech strategies are and aren’t working. CIOs use information from the VP of IT to build software budgets and plan for the organization’s future success.
VP of information technology job outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be a 15% increase in IT employment from 2021 to 2031. This figure translates to almost 682,000 new jobs. BLS also predicts over 418,000 job openings in IT each year due to IT growth and employee turnover. Additionally, according to Zippia, there are currently over 90,000 VPs of IT in the United States. With the steady increase of IT careers ahead, you might find plenty of opportunities to work your way up to the IT VP role.
How to become a VP of information technology
Most VPs of IT hold a master’s degree in computer science, information systems, software engineering, or business. In some cases, a bachelor’s degree in one or more of these fields might be enough. What’s really important is the experience that comes after finishing school.
An incoming IT VP will have worked in a wide range of technology jobs after getting their degree. Their resume should run the gamut of information technology, software development, and manager-level jobs.
VPs of information technology should also have ample experience running effective meetings, building team collaboration, and researching IT best practices. You can learn this all if you follow the same educational and professional path as most VPs of IT.
What skills and experience do I need to be a successful IT VP?
The following are among the most important things you’ll learn along the way toward becoming a VP of information technology (and how they’ll be useful).
- Industry awareness
- Managerial experience
- Passion for customer service
- Comfort with communication
- Hard(ware) and soft(ware) skills
- Experience planning and managing projects
- Organizational savvy
- An affinity for numbers
Through their years of school and work experience, IT VPs should know all the ins and outs of information technology. From technical expertise to understanding all kinds of technologies’ roles in corporate settings, an IT VP will be an ace in the IT arena.
VPs of IT should always be prepared and ready to lead. Most IT VPs will come in with plenty of experience managing teams, even if just during a few small projects. As an IT VP, they’ll get to put that managerial experience to work on a larger scale.
3Passion for customer service
While IT VPs might not serve customers face-to-face, they should keep customers in mind when coming up with new tech initiatives. An experienced VP of IT will always tailor their company’s hardware and software to the customer experience. (This is also a big part of the CTO’s job.) They’ll work hard to keep the organization’s tech running smoothly for both team members and customers.
4Comfort with communication
Internal and external communication skills are a must for any executive. The VP of IT is no exception.
Eli Fathi, chairman of the board at MindBridge, says it’s important for managers and leaders to set the tone for open, respectful communication. “Make sure that the culture is correct in terms of communication,” he says. “[W]hatever you do, you need common communication…that way everybody is on the same level in terms of getting the information they need to thrive.”
5Hard(ware) and soft(ware) skills
A well-prepared IT VP will have hard skills, like software development and engineering, and they’ll also be experienced (and great) leaders. They’ll know how to stay accessible as an IT team manager while knowing how to do all things IT. After all, it’s just as important to be a friendly, approachable face as a tech wizard.
6Experience planning and managing projects
IT VPs should be eager to apply their experience managing projects in earlier roles to their big-picture IT planning. Their time in IT management should help them come up with innovative yet practical solutions.
Whether coordinating multiple tasks or managing different groups of people, a skilled VP of IT will still keep all their ducks in a row. They might be super well-organized, or they could just be really good at multitasking. In any case, they’re totally cool with being busy, and they don’t let the chaos faze them.
8An affinity for numbers
This almost goes without saying, but a hefty set of analytical skills is key for a career as an IT VP. With your IT team looking to you for guidance, you don’t want to steer them wrong, so make sure you know your stuff.
Team and project management made easy
To lead meaningful tech projects and honor an organization’s vision, a VP of IT needs top-notch organization and management skills. You can use Fellow to streamline tasks for your IT team and help IT leadership plan, prepare, and lead effective meetings. With tools for listing action items, planning meetings, and streamlining workflows, you can get your team on the same page about short- and long-term goals. The plate of any IT exec is undoubtedly full, and Fellow can help you keep it balanced.