CIO Career Shift: Stepping Stone to Business Leader


The Wall Street Journal | September 22, 2015

The Wall Street Journal article, "CIO Career Shift: Stepping Stone to Business Leader," includes extensive quotes from Shawn Banerji about the advancement of CIOs to CEO positions. The following is an excerpt of the article.

Jamie Miller's ascension from CIO of General Electric Co. to CEO of GE Transportation, announced last week, highlights a shift in CIO career paths. At some companies, the top technology leadership job is considered an important, but temporary role for promising general-management executives, said Shawn Banerji, a managing director at Russell Reynolds Associates.

Companies that recognize the importance of technology expertise are sending high-performing leaders from other disciplines for a stint as CIO, on the way to other business positions, Mr. Banerji said. "They will use it as a strategic development tool," he said.

Shawn Banerji also spoke about findings from Russell Reynolds Associates research:

Traditional CIOs with careers built on software engineering and project management may have a harder time advancing to a CEO position than those who have rotated into IT leadership as a way to round out their careers, Mr. Banerji said. Such CIOs tend to have less prominent social skills than CEOs, according to a Russell Reynolds study of the psychometrics associated with C-suite executives. Typical CIOs are 10% less self-confident and 13% less competitive than typical CEOs, he said.

Overall, CIOs promoted to the top leadership position are rare but such moves highlight the corporate need for technology expertise in the key role (see chart). Traditional CIOs seeking a CEO promotion may be disappointed, Mr. Banerji said. Although boards recognize the importance of IT know-how, they want broader experience, he said. "For many CIOs, it's too late," he said.

To read the entire piece, click here.

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CIO Career Shift: Stepping Stone to Business Leader