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CIO Succession - Introduction

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

Vell Executive Search is a certified WBE by NWBOC and SOMWBA.