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4 In-Demand Skill Sets for CIOs

Over the last 6 months, I’ve completed several IT related executive searches, and I’ve noticed an evolution in the “requirements” for CIO/VP of IT positions. IT leadership is always changing and evolving, but I’ve really seen it ramp up in the last couple of years. I thought I’d discuss some of the latest and greatest “must haves” for IT leaders.

1. Fiscal Responsibility

When I started recruiting in the late 90’s, the relationship between IT and Finance was often adversarial. IT leadership would put together a list of wants and needs for their respective organizations, and the CFO or Finance department would shoot them down, telling IT to pick a few items for the next fiscal year that they couldn’t live without. IT leaders and CIO’s often reported to the CFO. I see many organizations looking for their IT leaders to take ownership and have fiscal responsibility for products and services coming through IT. Companies are putting more trust in their IT leaders to manage their own P & L, make responsible financial decisions, and more often, are reporting directly to Presidents and CEO’s. The former framework still applies many places (CIO reporting to CFO), but not as often as 10-15 years ago

2. Digital Transformation/Marketing

“Digital Transformation” is the latest and greatest Buzzword in the industry. Companies are looking for their IT leaders to have deeper knowledge around not only their tools and technology but also their digital marketing and branding. As time passes, the Marketing and IT departments are working more closely, often sharing projects focused on company direction. (3 of my last 6 executive searches listed “strong relationships internally with SVP of Marketing” as VERY important to success)

3. IT Driving business vs Taking Orders

Looking back only a few years, IT departments were often seen as an expense to the organization. In 2018, more and more companies are seeing IT as a catapult to driving business, winning customers, increasing sales. 80% of my IT executive searches this year have asked for leaders who are accustomed to partnering with sales and marketing, looking for someone who can help companies drive their business and be more competitive through IT.

4. Vision

Without exception, all my executive searches in 2018 have asked for leaders who are serious about taking their organizations to the next level in terms of cutting-edge technology. “We are looking for someone who is never satisfied with where the organization is today. We need someone who is always looking to the future and can take us there.” Direct quote from a President I recently worked with.

No longer is IT just a financial drain on organizations. IT is the “tip of the spear” in terms of driving business, driving sales, increasing customer satisfaction. Current IT leaders I’m looking for need to live this daily.

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