Where Is Your Next CIO Coming From?

by drjim on February 25, 2009

Many Firms Don't Have A Plan For How They Would Replace Their Current CIO

Many Firms Don’t Have A Plan For How They Would Replace Their Current CIO

So here’s the scenario: a previously unknown meteor comes streaking down to earth and somehow lands squarely on top of your CIO squashing him/her instantly. What do you do next? Where would your replacement CIO come from and do you know who that would be?

A study conducted by the equipment supply firm CDW has revealed that even at firms with 1,000 or more employees, 38% of them did not have a formal CIO succession plan. Ouch – watch out for those meteors!

Even if your CIO doesn’t spend a lot of time outside where there might be meteors, a good point to keep in mind is that the average tenure of a CIO is 3-5 years. When you start to think about who might replace your current CIO, one question comes to mind immediately: internal vs external.

It really doesn’t help matters that exactly what the qualifications to be CIO are can be quite subjective. In most cases it really depends on several factors including the size of your company, what industry you play in, and what the current expectations of the IT department are.

A study done by Information Week revealed that of 500 current CIOs, 58% of them were recruited from the outside. This means that choosing the outsider is not all that unusual.

When it comes down to deciding if you should be looking internally vs externally, company culture can play a big role. If your firm has a history of hiring from the outside, then getting your next CIO from their will feel much more natural.

Internal candidates can be a great way to go because they already know so much about the company. At the same time, they often find themselves in a situation in which they are in over their heads in responsibilities. External CIO candidates often have the experience to do the job; however, simply because they come from the outside expectations will be higher for them.

In the end make sure that you choose carefully from all of your potential sources – you’re going to need the best possible talent in your top IT spot.

Does your company have a CIO succession plan? Have you ever had to use it? Do you get your CIOs internally or externally? How long do they last? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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