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Tuesday, 04 June 2013 15:48

Which Industries Create the Most Attractive CIOs? Featured

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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 6830 times Last modified on Friday, 07 August 2020 18:11
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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