bakhtiarzein - Fotolia

Large UK businesses increasingly want CEOs to have IT background

More large businesses in the UK want a CEO that has a good understanding of IT

Large UK businesses are increasingly looking for CEOs with a background in IT as they attempt to keep pace with digital transformation.

According to analysis of FTSE 100 companies, carried out by recruitment firm Robert Half UK, the number of CEOs with a background in IT has trebled over the past four years, with one in 10 CEOs now in the UK’s top 100 companies having a background in IT.

In 2014, only three CEOs had a background in IT but this has now increased to 11. CEOs with a background in finance still dominate the role in the FTSE, at 43% of CEOs, but this has reduced from 55% in 2016. This demonstrates the impact of digital across industry sector because it used to often be a struggle to get a seat on company boards.

Large businesses today are updating their internal operations through the latest IT infrastructures and transform their customer facing businesses through technologies such as mobile, cloud, big data, artificial intelligence and social media.

As IT is seen as a business enabler rather than just a way to cut costs, an understanding of how these technologies can be applied to business models is essential for CEOs to have.

“With digital transformation, automation and GDPR offering challenges and opportunities, growth remains the number one priority for all businesses – small and large,” said Phil Sheridan, senior managing director at Robert Half UK.

“Strong leadership that can deliver profitability and create a sustainable advantage against competitors and new market entrants is key.”

The rise of CIOs to the top job is clearly gathering pace after signs of change over the past couple of years. In November 2015, a survey from Deloitte of 1,200 technology leaders in 43 countries showed that CIOs have the opportunity to drive business strategy in a way that has not been possible before.

Read more about CIOs taking the step to CEO

  • Computer Weekly reveals exclusive research from Deloitte on the changing role of the CIO.
  • Digital initiatives promise to make IT instrumental in transforming business models – but CEOs feel CIOs lack the right skills.
  • Technology is a top-three business priority for 25% of CEOs, according to Gartner, paving the way for CIOs to play a more strategic role at their companies.

The Robert Half study also found an education from Oxford or Cambridge universities is no less of a prerequisite for a CEO job at an FTSE company.

The proportion of CEOs with an education at one of these universities has declined from 23% to 17% since 2010. Just under a quarter (23%) have an MBA, and four CEOs hold a PhD.

Read more on IT education and training

Data Center
Data Management