What It Takes To Be a Top Technology Executive

By Robert Hertzberg  |  Posted 12-06-2006

Since joining executive recruiter Heidrick & Struggles in 1995, Gerard McNamara has helped bring top technology talent to some of the biggest U.S. corporations. The former IBMer and Marine captain talked about what he's seeing in an interview with Baseline contributing writer Robert Hertzberg.

Q. How secure--or insecure--is the job of the average CIO at a Fortune 200 company these days?

A. The number moves, but I'd say the typical tenure is anywhere from 36 to 48 months. It was a shorter window a couple of years ago, and now it's longer. The budget the CIO handles in a large corporation is as large as any other budget. The systems, the infrastructure, the cost of labor and benefits-it's massive. And that's the operating budget. The capital budget can be very large as well. There are bet-the-ranch initiatives and if they go off the rails, someone's going to pay. Typically it's the CIO.

Q. When big companies go to hire a CIO these days, what are the main skills they're looking for?

A. Proven understanding of what technology is prevalent certainly is important, but they are really looking for a business leader--someone who can provide advice and counsel to the very senior team of an organization. For instance, let's say the company is considering an acquisition. A good CIO needs to be able to articulate the implications for both companies' technology, how long assimilation will take, what it will cost, what the risks are.

Read the full story on Baselinemag.com: What It Takes To Be a Top Technology Executive