Is being a CIO still interesting at all?
After recently writing a piece about IT executive search and talking to senior technology professionals about how they are planning their next career step, I started to wonder if the CIO role is will still remain attractive for a long time. Or if they actually want to remain in the job in the first place?
Several IT executives I have spoken to recently have said that their ultimate career goal is to become a head of change, or to move to a role that is operations-related - read that as getting out of IT as quickly as possible.
Many of them have already gone through that turnstile - examples in the UK include Ben Wishart, former CIO at Whitbread and now international chief operating officer at the hospitality firm; Catherine Doran, former CIO at Network Rail, promoted a couple of years ago to corporate development director; Martin Schofield, previously IT director at Harvey Nichols and now retail operations director at the same business.
As IT-enabled change and efficiency becomes an oxymoron for the younger generations and the current cohort of CIOs moves to other functions of the "business", services that used to be executed by internal departments are now carried out by third-parties.
This apparent lack of interest for the top job in IT is something that can be also seen in other parts of the world. Recently, Jairo Avritchir - until recently the IT chief at Dell in Brazil, having been CIO for Latin America at several firms including JPMorgan - has been quoted as saying that those in charge of IT are now mere "contract managers", adding that taking up a job as a CIO in future would be an unlikely option.
Having said all of that, would it be right to say that CIOs are a declining species, that they already had their "15 bytes of fame"?
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