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CIOs must cultivate the next business technology leaders

Clint Boulton | Sept. 30, 2015
Companies must orchestrate succession plans at the lower levels of their IT organizations, mitigating risk that they will fall behind in the event of managerial defections.

“The skills needed are broader and the response times are much quicker,” Sethi says. “Technology professionals must keep abreast of all of the emerging technologies, as well as all of the higher-end strategic and business skills.”

In their assessments, CIOs and their fellow executives must also take care to avoid superficial or flawed evaluations, which can weaken the company. There is no magic formula that guarantees success, but Sethi says the most successful companies conducted group evaluations of candidates.

CIO succession planning, sans the CIO  

Sometimes, CIOs aren't even involved in the planning. For example, in an insurance company client Sethi counsels, the CEO collaborates with the CFO and chief administration officer to plan successors in technology and operations. While that may remove some significant burdens for the CIO, that approach may not sit well for CIOs who like to remain actively involved in preparing their staff to move up the career ladder.

Indeed, some CIOs are actively involved in grooming successors. American Cancer Society CIO Jay Ferro is preparing five candidates to potentially replace him. He also challenges his direct reports to identify three people that can take their role, further buttressing the company's IT ranks. “It mitigates the risk to the organization that if I get hit by a bus or win the lottery we’ll be in good shape," Ferro told last month.


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