Monday, 25 February 2013 11:59

CIO Succession - Introduction Featured

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Who is getting the top CIO jobs? What are the skills, experience and cultural characteristics you need your next CIO to have in order to meet your business objectives? Can you cut through the conventional wisdom in your industry and leapfrog competitors with the right type of technology leadership?

The right CIO may need to be capable of navigating rapidly changing technologies, diverse and demanding constituencies, and changing demographics and economic forces. To find such an individual, a company first needs to understand the business, technical and cultural objectives behind how it deploys and consumes technology services. Companies must then try to anticipate what background would help achieve these objectives, including the CIO's core competencies, domain experience and industry experience.

Options and questions are many: Should you hire a first-time CIO? Should the CIO report to the CEO, to an operations executive or to the CFO? Will reporting structure help attract a better candidate? How strongly should you push for a diverse candidate? What does "business knowledge" mean in the CIO role? Should the CIO come from another business area? What about the increasingly complex technology environment? We feel that research and data are key to answering these questions and helping companies choose the best CIO. This information should not only help shape appointment decisions, but also help find "blue ocean" types of opportunities for attracting talent.

There is often a certain hesitancy and lack of confidence in making CIO appointments, unless there is a resignation (voluntary or otherwise), major restructuring, strategic transformation initiative, or some other event that compels the company to act quickly. This hesitancy stems from two factors: First, CEOs often have a lesser understanding of what it takes to be a great CIO compared to, say, a great marketing, sales or finance executive. Second, they may not appreciate what a great CIO can do for the business strategically and operationally.

This report documents and analyzes recent hiring and appointment trends, in order to give corporations a firmer foundation for filling the CIO role. We focused on companies with over $4 billion in revenues (a little south of the Fortune 500 cutoff) that are based in or do extensive business in the United States. We studied new CIOs coming from the outside or appointed from the inside-their demographic patterns, educational backgrounds, career and industry experience, and where they report in the organizational structure. This basic data is revealing, but we add dimension by analyzing patterns by company size and uncovering distinctions between hiring from outside and promoting from within.

I hope the report serves to demystify the CIO role and the process of filling it. And I hope that this knowledge helps you define and find the ideal candidate for your specific situation.

The body of this report is preceded by an executive summary, and it concludes with our summary observations on key points, plus specific advice to hiring companies. I hope you enjoy reading and learning from the report. I would love to hear your observations and feedback, plus your suggestions on what else we can study about the very important CIO role.

Dora Vell

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Dora Vell

Dora Vell is the Managing Partner of Vell Executive Search, a boutique executive search firm in Boston focused on recruiting technology executives and board members. Vell has successfully completed numerous board member and C-level executive searches, including CEOs, COOs, CIOs, and Vice Presidents - at both public and private companies.

Prior to founding the firm in 2005, Vell was a Partner at Heidrick & Struggles' Technology practice for seven years.  Before her career in executive search, she worked at IBM for 11 years, managing software engineering organizations of 100 people and software sales organizations with revenues of $150 million. She has also served as an executive assistant to the CEO of IBM Canada for one year.

Vell holds seven worldwide software patents. She has published several Business of Leadership reports on governance and leadership and has been quoted in numerous articles including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week, Fortune, Agenda Week, MSNBC, Mass High Tech, the OPUS for the World Economic Forum, Boston Business Journal, The Globe & Mail, CIO Magazine, and IEEE. She also has been a featured speaker on leadership at numerous conferences and at Columbia University's MBA program.

Vell is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the Boston CEO Roundtable. She has served on the boards of Framingham State, Entrepreneur's Organization, Goodwill, Mary Centre for developmentally handicapped adults, garage.ca, and RBC Capital Partners.

She has received an MBA from the University of Toronto, a Master in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, and a Bachelor in Computer Science from Carleton. She has also completed the MIT Entrepreneurial Master’s program.

www.vell.com/
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