Tuesday, 04 June 2013 15:48

Which Industries Create the Most Attractive CIOs?

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With the 32 outsiders and recently joined "understudy" CIOs, we took a close look at where they come from. What are the hiring companies looking for?

  • Experience in the industry or an adjacent one, and sometimes an industry with similar characteristics (e.g., information intensity, transaction volume, security requirements). This enables the new CIO to come up to speed quickly and to offer fresh perspective.
  • "Been there, done that" experience in specific technological domains, such as security and compliance, global networks, cloud computing, or analytics. This positions the new CIO to hit the ground running on key initiatives.
  • Track record in an industry known for excellence in IT or in a "marquis" company known for developing excellent managers. If a company feels it or its industry in general is technologically behind, it often looks to source its CIO from a best-of-breed industry or company.

How many companies in our sample select executives with experience in their industries or closely related ones? About two thirds, including five of six financial services companies, and all four information technology companies.

Where do the other companies look for CIO material? Two media companies and a retailer tapped financial services executives. A wholesaler and a manufacturer hired oil company CIOs. Two energy companies and a transportation firm found executives with retail and consumer experience. A health industry company and a financial services firm (with several software acquisitions) recruited information technology company executives. The largest company with an outsider CIO, General Motors, tapped an executive with CIO experience at two major technology firms and the largest retailer, Walmart.

Now let's ask the question the other way: What industry experience do the newly hired CIOs bring to the table?

  • Twelve of the 32 have financial services experience. For five of them, it is their predominant experience. Financial services is known for trying out new technologies and being at the leading edge, while at the same time having high regulatory and security requirements.
  • Six have retail/consumer goods experience, industries with high-volume business-toconsumer commerce and often advanced analytics. Several of these CIOs have worked for "marquis" companies, such as PepsiCo.
  • Five have predominantly technology industry backgrounds (and several others had stints with technology companies). Their destination companies include other technology companies, a consumer services company, and a large retailer.
  • Twelve have diversified industry experience and thus bring the advantage of crosspollination. The hiring company's industry is often in the mix. For example, E&Y selected a CIO with financial services, professional services and industrial experience. Baxter's new CIO has pharmaceutical experience, as well as manufacturing and financial services. Other times, the hiring company selects a "directional" CIO, someone with experience to forward their ambitions. For example, MGM Resorts picked someone with retail and financial services experience.

Interestingly, seven of the twelve CIOs with diversified backgrounds include financial services experience, but only two include technology industry experience. Financial services, more than high tech, seems to be the "universal donor" these days.

Click here to read the full report on Fortune 500 CIO Succession.

Read 7012 times Last modified on Friday, 07 August 2020 18:11
Dora Vell

Managing Partner

Dora Vell is the CEO of Vell Executive Search, a boutique executive search firm in Boston that recruits technology executives and board members for companies ranging from promising tech startups to Fortune 100 companies. Throughout her 22-year career in executive search, she has successfully completed hundreds of assignments, placing board members, CEOs, COOs, CIOs, technology officers, vice presidents and many other C-level executives. Vell’s clients span both private and public companies and her work has included searches in markets large and small across the U.S. and Canada.

Prior to founding Vell Executive Search in 2005, she was a partner at the executive search consulting firm Heidrick & Struggles for seven years. She started in the Technology Practice in the Toronto office, became the firm’s Technology Practice leader for Canada, and then joined the firm’s Boston office.

Before her career in executive search, Vell worked for 11 years at IBM Canada in software-related roles of increasing responsibility. She started as a software engineer, managed a software engineering team of 100, and then led software sales for IBM Canada. She holds seven worldwide software patents. This deep industry understanding has helped Vell Executive Search become a recognized leader in finding senior executive and board talent for software and SaaS companies.

Vell is a recognized industry thought leader who has published several reports on governance and leadership topics. She has been frequently quoted as an expert on executive and board leadership by outlets such as 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 has been a featured speaker on leadership at numerous conferences and at Columbia University's MBA program.

Vell has been a Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and the Boston CEO Roundtable. She has served on the boards of Framingham State University, Entrepreneur's Organization, Goodwill, Mary Centre for Developmentally Handicapped Adults, garage.ca, and RBC Capital Partners.

The trilingual daughter of a diplomat, Vell grew up in Canada, Greece, France, Switzerland and China. Her unique multicultural and international perspective, experiences as a woman in the male-dominated software field, and insights as a dual Canadian and U.S. citizen inform all her work for clients.

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

Areas of Practice:

  • C-Level Technology Executives
  • CEOs, CROs, Heads of Sales, Heads of Marketing, Chief Product Officers
  • Technology Officers: CTOs, CIOs, Heads of Engineering, CISOs, Chief Data Officers
  • Board Directors
  • Diversity Executives and Board Directors
  • Canadian Executives and Board Directors



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