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5 Tips for Senior IT Executives to successfully transition into IT Consultants

By Vahid Haghzare, Director Silicon Valley Associates Recruitment &
Armae Garcia, Marketing Associate, Silicon Valley Associates Recruitment


One of the top IT Recruitment Agencies in Hong KongDubai, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Singapore, and Japan, SVA Recruitment is an IT and employment agency that provides jobs, executive search, and recruitment services.


When it is time for IT leaders to move on from their role, many CIOs and IT Execs who work with Silicon Valley Associates Recruiter then choose to pursue another role in the C-suite or move into another position at a technology vendor or just start up their venture.  

Our Tech Recruiters in Singapore and Hong Kong have recently noticed that Consulting is becoming a popular alternative option for many executives, whether they want to start their advisory firm, join an existing one, or just take a break from the corporate world and career ladder.

Consulting can be beneficial because of their extensive knowledge of technology and business to help their clients make informed decisions.

Some of SVA Recruitment’s previous CIO hiring managers now work as independent consultants, and executive coaches for other aspiring senior IT Executives. They all tend to explain that whilst they weren’t initially prepared for either role, it became a natural next step as other younger execs regularly turned to them for advice, and other companies asked for their opinion to assess and benchmark their issues related to IT and cybersecurity.

“You can apply the experience you have, now as a consultant to help other aspiring CIOs, senior IT execs, and even their direct reports,” says Vahid Haghzare, Director of SVA Recruitment. “There are many capable people out there, but they don’t have the experience you do. You- as a consultant- can help others in learning and developing, and also pass on your wealth of knowledge to other companies on their strategy, cybersecurity, or system implementations.”

Whilst as a consultant you may initially feel isolated from the day-to-day fabric of the company you are serving; on the plus side you now have complete autonomy and control over your calendar and who you work with (or not). 

Here, we give you 5 pro tips from Haghzare and some of the IT leaders who have made a successful transition to IT consultants.


  1. Is it right for you?

As a CIO / Senior IT Executive, it is enticing to think of leaving your regular duties to take on a consulting role. But before doing so, you must be 200% sure that you’re determined to leap.

There WILL be down times- lack of clients, or projects to work on, flaky and difficult stakeholders, mornings when you don’t want to get out of bed. Are you disciplined and resilient enough to handle the downsides, not just the obvious benefits?

One CIO-turned-Consultant suggests that executives considering a career shift can draw a Venn diagram to help them decide what opportunities may be available.

The first circle represents your passions, which drive you through the day. The second circle illustrates a distinguishing quality that makes an individual special among his or her peers. The third circle of the graph shows potential customers for the services offered by the executive. The point of intersection of these three circles is the point at which you should act.


  1. Ask others for advice and opinion

It is useful to speak with others when making career transitions. IT Consultants who have already made a similar move will provide insight into how the process might work for you. 

Vahid Haghzare advises that you seek out contacts who already have experience down that path, as you may learn things from them that will help you in your decision and future endeavor.

Hazare also stresses the importance of consulting other Consultants outside the IT field, who can give you alternative perspectives and insight into the way their businesses work.

It is also recommended to speak with family members and friends who might have insights into whether shifting to the consultation is a good move for your career and your family and finances.

Before deciding, gather all the advice and experiences so you can make a holistic decision.


  1. Be prepared for Self-promotion and Selling

Another former technology CIO and founder of an IT executive coaching firm says that while IT Consultants should focus on building a practice optimized for delivery, operations, and service, they must also consider the other aspects of their role. 

“While the elements of a consultancy are important, the most important element—often overlooked—is focusing on sales. Without you making an effort in sales, there won’t be any consulting to do in the first place.”  

Initially during the transition, maintaining connections with your professionals will bring your first work. But eventually, you need to look beyond your direct connections. And this is when a lot of aspiring consultants and even start-ups and founders struggle and fail.

Although many businesspeople might find this to be obvious, former technology executives might not fully understand or appreciate the importance of selling their abilities and services to prospective companies and executives.

Communication skills and patience is a vital factors to consider here. Ex-CIOs should use their refined negotiation skills to collaborate with customers and vice versa.

Even after a client has been sold on your offering, it's important to keep the accelerator pressed and devote a large portion of your time toward following up, and keep building a sales pipeline.


  1. Building a Brand

One ex-CIO now Consultant says it amazes him that some consultants build a practice but never build a real company and brand.


He recommends investing in your talent early, to help build and lead your firm along the way and removing your ego in not making your organization just all about you, but building a strong team around you.

If you want to build your consulting practice that lasts, you need to think long-term, not just about projects and work you can pick up right now.


  1. Alternative paths to Consulting

As with any major career move, there are pros and cons. And if you may not be ready or good at consulting; Haghzare suggests it may be better to look for other alternatives- like advisory positions or board positions and use your competence in those circumstances.

If you’re uncertain about those, then perhaps mentorship could be another approach – especially if you are passionate about developing young people and potential.

There is also nothing wrong with sticking to the executive career ladder. There are a lot of opportunities for career advancement for those IT folks who are trying to pursue the CIO position. At this point, there will be plenty of Recruiters, not least the team at SVA Recruitment, who would be happy to get in touch and keep an eye out for you in the market.


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Silicon Valley Associates is a specialist IT Recruitment Agency ideally positioned to support the continual demand from tech companies and IT Departments looking to hire in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Dubai, Japan, and Worldwide. Please let us know if you would further advise on the above topic or your hiring needs


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