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The modern CIO's changing skill set

Media Release


Auckland, New Zealand – 19 July 2011 – Hudson has today released a new report – “The Reconstructed CIO: Building and Leading the New IT Function” – which shows that against a backdrop of global uncertainty and burgeoning skills shortages, the role of today’s CIO has changed considerably.  The role of the modern CIO is now more strategically aligned with an organisation than ever before and CIOs must equip themselves with a diverse range of skills that blend the traditional requirements of the role with an equal measure of business acumen and leadership skills.   

The report is based on discussions from Hudson’s recent ICT Industry Leaders Series roundtable event, involving 11 CIOs from some of Australia and New Zealand’s leading organisations.  

John Coventry, Practice Director, Hudson ICT, said: “In New Zealand and Australia, the last two years have represented some of the most testing and challenging times in recent history. One effect of these changed times has been that of the role of CIO. 

“With companies operating under greater pressure and scrutiny the components of the modern CIO have more in common with that of the CEO.  Superior technical skills are no longer enough and it is expected that CIOs will provide greater business expertise and leadership than before.  In fact, few CIOs expect that in ten years time their role will need to be filled by someone with a background in IT. 

“Today’s CIO is challenged by demands to add value, increase competitive advantage and reduce the costs of business, which in many ways can represent conflicting objectives.”

One key finding of the report is that, post-GFC, IT projects are under increasing scrutiny, in terms of necessity, complexity and return on investment (ROI): budgets are returning to IT but there is significantly greater analysis of value and alignment with the organisation’s overall strategy.

Roundtable participant Peter Finch, CIO of IT services company Gen-i, says that getting projects approved has become harder, while the demands for ROI are greater.

“Our business went through a period of time where they had to make some really hard choices, and those disciplines continue. Some projects that we might have done previously we are probably not doing now because the return on them is not as significant as it used to be or as we now demand.”

Another key finding from the report is that modern CIOs need to look for broader skills when hiring to ensure they build the right teams: they need people not only with the requisite technical skills but also with business sense, change management skills and a strong cultural fit. With the need to develop a broader skills base, mentoring is something that many of today’s CIOs feel strongly about.

The return of IT spending is presenting new challenges.  CIOs can now start to rebuild their teams, however, the roundtable participants noted that the ongoing skills shortage means the talent pool is small and good people are increasingly hard to find. The speed at which the IT industry is evolving means that roles change frequently – along with their required skill sets.

The leadership style in an organisation plays an important role in employee retention. Paul Jepson, CIO of Housing New Zealand Corporation, a roundtable participant – says, “The reason why a lot of people leave an organisation is because of their manager. If the leadership culture within the organisation is poor, people tend to move on. So if you address that, you’ll have a much better chance of retaining good people.”

The roundtable participants all agreed that CIOs must adopt some specific strategies to find and build high-performing IT teams. A key component in building this high-performing function is motivation.  People will need training, incentives and the right culture. But more critically, people with the right motivation and ‘can do’ attitude will go on to achieve success. 

Hudson has identified eight leadership competencies that define the core capabilities of successful CIOs and their teams.  These are visioning, inspiring, innovating, decision making, collaborating, building talent, building the business and customer focus.

“Our leadership competencies help CIOs find these team members – people who are motivated and understand their wider strategic function and business-critical role,” says Coventry. “These are the people who will deliver success to an organisation.”

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Editors Note
Please contact us to receive the full report and to arrange interviews with Hudson.

About the Hudson ICT Industry Leaders Series
The Hudson ICT Industry Leaders Series event takes place each year and aims to gather insight from a diverse group of ICT industry leaders across Australia and New Zealand.  Discussions focus on uncovering the complexities and challenges currently faced by the ICT sector, including analysis of skills shortages and what businesses need to do in order to retain and attract the best talent.  
Attendees at Hudson’s 2011 ICT Industry Leaders Series event included: Michelle Beveridge, Executive Director of Operations, Open Universities Australia; Michael Dines, General Manager Information Systems (CIO), OneSteel; Adrian Dixon, Chief Information Officer, Sunsuper; Carey Eaton, Chief Information Officer, Seek; Peter Finch, Chief Information Officer, Gen-i; James Grierson, Chief Information Officer, Life Without Barriers; Duncan Holt, Head of IT, Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance; Paul Jepson, Chief Information Officer, Housing New Zealand Corporation; Bruce Nicholas, Network Manager Information Systems, Network Ten; Trevor O’Neil, Chief Information Officer, Sandvik Mining and Construction Australia; Henry Tan, Chief Information Officer, TransGrid.

About Hudson
Hudson (NASDAQ: HHGP) is a leading provider of permanent recruitment, contract professionals and talent management services worldwide. From single placements to total project solutions, Hudson helps clients achieve greater organisational performance by assessing, recruiting, developing and engaging the best and brightest people for their businesses. The company employs more than 2,000 professionals serving clients and candidates in approximately 20 countries.


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