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Monday, 25 February 2013 12:16

CIO Succession - Tenure and Career Path Featured

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The popular conception is that CIO has become a short life expectancy role, so we examined the tenures and next destinations of the CIOs preceding our set of newly appointed ones. Our data provides a richer picture. Nearly half (47%) had tenures of 3-6 years, and another 23% had longer tenures (the longest being 16 and 14 years at CA Technologies and Marriott, respectively). The average tenure was about 5 years, but it was closer to 4 in the largest company segment.

Figure 17: Average Tenure of Former CIOs by Company Size

Average Tenure of Former CIOs by Company Size

Of the 48 former CIOs whose next destinations are clear, more moved on to better things or retired than moved laterally or resigned:

  • 8 were promoted within the company
  • 12 moved to more responsible positions in other companies
  • 6 moved laterally (5 to other companies)
  • 12 resigned
  • 10 retired

We took a close look at CIO positions that had turned over twice in short order-three years or less. Among ten instances where the former CIO's tenure was 2-3 years, six of those CIOs moved up, including one to a CEO position, two to COO of the company, and two to CIO of a larger company. Two retired, and only two resigned. Several of these transitions, though rapid, were according to succession plans.

Where the tenure was less than two years, the situations are messier. One CIO jumped to a larger company and three resigned amid shake-ups. One company, Lowe's, had two very short-term CIOs in succession. The first resigned after less than a year. The second assumed the post on an interim basis, took a retirement package, and has since been replaced by the new CIO recruited from outside the company.

Two of the companies in our survey group merged the CIO role with an existing executive's role. J. C. Penny brought in a new CTO and two months later the CIO and CTO roles were combined under the CTO; the former CIO resigned. Credit Suisse folded the CIO responsibilities under the CFO, eliminating the separate post altogether.

The bottom line: Management shake-ups and corporate restructurings can make tenures short, but the CIO role can be a stepping stone as often as not.

Read 340 times Last modified on Thursday, 02 July 2020 16:13
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,, 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.

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