Why good CIOs are politicians. CxO of the Week: Okta CIO Mark Settle

Currently the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of identity management company Okta Mark Settle has a very impressive resume. The seven time CIO has previously held the position at Oxy, Arrow Electronics, Corporate Express, BMC Software and IHS.

Settle holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from MIT and a PhD from Brown University. If that is not impressive enough, he is also a former Air Force officer, a NASA Program Scientist and the author of Truth from the Trenches: A Practical Guide to the Art of IT Management.

Settle, a visionary leader himself, has some interesting thoughts on successful leadership. “Leaders start as good managers. They have come up in the ranks and have become reliable in terms of being able to produce results, stick to budgets, gain the respect of their subordinates, and so forth.

“Leaders tend to go the extra mile or do things differently. One of our key differentiators is the way they use their discretionary time. They put in place practices and processes for other people to be productive, and do not become the single threaded point of failure in an organization that everything must flow through. That is a big differentiator.  

“The other is how to build the competency or the fabric of the organization to weather crises in the future or prepare for broader initiatives in the way we use our discretionary time,” Settle told Forbes.

In addition, Settle believes a good CIO is one who markets his company. “One thing a lot of folks do not think about intentionally is that you become a politician or a sales person for your own organization.

“Some CIOs like to spend more time inside their own organizations and less time on the outside, but they really are doing themselves a disservice. Whether it is speaking at a strategy meeting or attending conferences, those are all great opportunities to talk about the business and things that are happening in your organization,” said Settle.