The role of the chief information officer (CIO) has become increasingly challenging and complex as information communications technology (ICT) has become critical infrastructure for most large organisations. However, there has been a lack of research which has empirically examined the role of the modern CIO. A set of initial critical competencies were identified in the existing literature. An online survey of CIOs confirmed the importance of these competencies and identified other competencies which are considered critical. The key findings show that the role of the modern CIO has become increasingly business focused and strategic. Soft skills dominate the critical competencies. Ultimately, how a CIO leads and manages his/her ICT staff will greatly influence how successful a CIO is in the role. However, the CIO still needs to have high level understanding of key technology knowledge so personal knowledge of or access to hard skills is also critical in the role.