Specialist Guide to Hiring a Top Chief Information Officer

With precision hiring intelligence™ at the core and humans at the helm, to enable founders, CEO’s, boards, investors and technology leaders to build world-class teams.

In their seminal book Information Resource Management: Opportunities and Strategies for the 1980s, William Synnott and William Gruber first coined the term chief information officer. The role was created as a part of the top management team. Since then, CIOs have come a long way. Their roles and responsibilities have evolved over time:

In the 1990s CIOs were technology aligners who worked with CEOs to align technology with business models. CIOs during this period became more influential and strategically important in an organisation.

In the 2000s the CIOs were top executive team members. As “technology integrators” they were responsible for the effective use of technology across business units and overall company performance.

By 2010s, the growing importance of IT made the CIO role more strategic. They became technology architect, helping companies scale and gain competitive advantage by flexible use of IT resources. 

It is widely regarded that there are now 3 types of CIO:

Strategic CIO– A value driven CIO whose job is to provide technology services to users.

Functional CIO – Their focus is on IT operations with an objective of reducing cost.

Transformative (Disruptive CIO) – Responsible for innovation and new revenue streams by driving digital transformation in the organisation.

The modern CIOs are required to act as business strategist and leaders. At times, they are also responsible for driving digital transformation in the organisation. They work closely with the CEO and make important strategic decisions. Their business acumen and technical expertise helps organisation gain competitive advantage and drive business performance.

It is important to note that a company’s performance depends on the reporting structure and relationships. The company’s Industry as wells as strategic and financial objective determines the org structure of the organisation. The 2 most common CIO reporting structures are:

CIO reports to CEO – a company looking to achieve differentiation in terms of products or services will report into CEO.

CIO reports to CFO – In a company looking to attain cost leadership, the CIO will report to CFO.

Usually in tech companies, CIOs are most likely to succeed as CEO.

Five reasons why attracting the top candidates is important

David McClelland a Harvard University psychologist who published an article called “Testing for competence rather than for intelligence” defined competency as “an underlying characteristic of an individual that is causally related to criterion-referenced effective and/or superior performance in a job or situation.” To elaborate, “underlying characteristics” means that “the competency is a fairly deep and enduring part of a person’s personality… that causes or predicts behaviour and performance” and “criterion-referenced” means “the competency actually predicts who does something well or poorly, as measured on a specific criterion or standard”.

  1. Profitability / ROI ratio (Results Orientation [Competency]) – The ROI by hiring a CIO from the top 20% outweighs the cost incurred by a huge margin. Even if the hiring company uses a third party advisory company to find a candidate who generates only 1% more profits than an alternative candidate does, it will have paid for itself many times over.
  2. Long term performance (Strategic Orientation [Competency]) – CIO’s in addition to their technical expertise have a key and decisive role to play as strategic managers. These strategic decisions help companies build their competitive moat and affects long term performance. A wrong or even mediocre CIO hiring means high opportunity cost. In the fast pace high tech world this could mean a huge setback for the company.
  3. Low employee turnover (Team Leadership [Competency]) – A visionary CIO with exceptional leadership qualities help retain key employees. This is essential as talented tech professionals are a key resource and are in short supply. A high employee turnover in the tech department means high cost as well as problems in strategy implementation and execution. A strong CIO leader can bring about transformational change in the organisation by selecting and retaining key talent.
  4. Customer Impact [Competency] – The CIO has a clear understanding of the current and evolving customer needs and issues. A seamless customer experience across touchpoints is essential. In industries where the competitive intensity is high, the CIO creates a customer centric work culture. Numerous management consulting and academic sources have cited numerous scientific studies suggesting that hiring from top 20% helps companies achieve significantly higher customer satisfaction net promoter scores than their competitors.
  5. Change Leadership [Competency] / Collaboration & Influencing [Competency] – Any tech company looking to transform itself is likely to face some form of resistance. The CIO will bring about transformational change by creating a work culture that embraces change. Engaging and actively involving employees in the core decision making process ensures smooth transition and leads to favourable outcomes for change programs.
How to make targeting the top CIOs work for you?

There are some key things you need to consider when trying to attract the top CIO’s to your current recruitment process:

  • Your target strategy is important – Some of the key questions are: Which sectors do we need to target? Which pool of companies and candidates should we tap into? What are some lateral sector and/or company and/or candidate types we may not have considered? 
  • Your data sources are important -The overwhelming volume of candidate data being produced is growing exponentially every day faster than ever. At the moment only 5% of all data is ever used. The next step is ensuring that are accessing the right data sources are critical to help you separate the signal from the noise.
  • Increasing the sample size of potential candidates for your roles – Once the right data sources are locked in you then need to make sure that you build your datasets represent the full universe of potential on-market (active) and off-market (passive) candidates. If you only have 30 to 50% of the total talent pool mapped then how do you even know if you are tapping into the top performers?
  • The right messaging channels is your superior access vehicle – Insights into the full universe of potential candidates is not enough. Then right messaging channels are critical and provide a superior access vehicle much like a trojan horse, so it is probably best not to rely on a single LinkedIn ‘Recruiter’ InMail which is likely to get very low response rates at this level. In 2021 – and beyond – optimal engagement occurs through the right messaging across a mix of Platform/Email/Mobile and of equal importance for response rates the sequencing and timing of these.
  • Assess leadership competencies in a standardised structured way – A competency is the executive’s knowledge, skill and ability to perform the task successfully in a defined environment. It helps in predicting the performance of the candidate in the CIO role. The strategic intent will vary from company to company. This should reflect in the competencies. The CIO role is continually evolving one. The required competencies might change in a short period of time. That is why its imperative for a company to assess the CIO through structured interviews and on behaviour traits and competencies such as change leadership.
How do I get started?

There are three options:

  1. Do it yourself – you will need to consider the following: Who is in your network? Find potential candidates. Understand the supply and demand dynamic and learn where the available candidates are. Follow up leads, referrals and tidy up your Job Description.
  2. Use a traditional executive search firm – save your own time trading this for a pretty big commission or fee. When looking for a search firm make sure you consider the following: Use an search firm with a large network who can leverage their relationships to find you the best candidates first.
  3. Use scaleXT – since our launch 5.5 years ago we have now built the largest data map of operating CIO’s in New Zealand and Australia (and expats globally) to serve public, private, and private equity owned organisations across all sectors by placing world-class operational leaders in technology leadership roles via innovative and compelling arrangements such as permanent, interim, and tech advisory leadership initiatives. We can deploy a shortlist of seasoned technology leaders within days, rather than weeks or months. If needed we cam also provide interim CIO cover at very short notice.
Next steps …

Now you have a clearer understanding of the CIO landscape across New Zealand and Australian and afar … and have reflected back on the target you want your arrow to hit, including the role they’ll play in shaping your future. You’re now in a position to develop a plan, either by yourself or with an executive search professional or scaleXT.

We’d like your NEXT STEP to be with scaleXT so you would like to set up a deep dive 60 minute strategy session so you can explore how they can help you get what you want, quickly and effectively please let us know.


How does scaleXT work? Launched with precision hiring intelligence™ at the core powered by humans at the helm our AIR Platform™ enables founders, CEOs, boards, investors and technology leaders to build world-class teams.

Why should I care? Now you can tap into best-in-class technology to do a lot of the heavy lifting sourcing work so you can focus on more higher ROI activities like candidate experience, screening and on-boarding. Recruitment is on the cusp of becoming hi-tech industry in a similar way to what we have seen in other areas like sales and marketing automation with the new Salesforce.com AI product Einstein. Early adopters will gain an unfair advantage over their competition – plus you will most likely be able to leave the office at 5:00pm most days and have a better work life balance!

How fast is scaleXT? Typically you will get a high-quality Candidate Data MAP™ within 24 Hours and a shortlist Interested CV’s to your INBOX™ or ATS within days, rather than weeks or months.

What type of roles work best? The roles that make the biggest impact for company founders, CEOs, boards, investors and technology leaders are: Chief Information Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Data Officer, Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer, Chief Transformation Officer, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Commercial Officer, Chief Revenue Officer and then building out the organisation chart across data leadership, architects, developers, data engineering, data science, data analytics, AI, Machine Learning, NLP hires – amongst others.

Is scaleXT able to help us unlock the potential of Generative AI (GenAI)? For those companies looking to unlock the potential of GenAI scaleXT is able to help you assemble a team of world class strategists, data scientists, ML engineers, and generative AI experts to help you rapidly evaluate and bring high ROI generative use cases to life. Or we can connect you with GPT strategists, researchers and ML product managers who can help you identify other companies to partner with to get the desired results faster.

How do you get Interested CV’s to your INBOX™ or ATS within days, rather than weeks or months? We use a proprietary algorithm called Enigma that processes Natural Language using Deep Learning Neural Networks – which has processed millions of candidate profiles in millions of real world job scenarios – that it is able to replicate the way that the human brain works to improve decision making at a scale previously not possible. Once the matching engine identifies precise matches our platform has personalised interactions with the right candidate through the right channel at the right time. From here our dedicated team of humans at the helm at scaleXT take it from there to increase the precision matching even further still!

What channels does scaleXT use to interact with candidates? scaleXT interacts with candidates through 3 channels (i.e. Platform/Email/Mobile) and will use the channel(s) in which candidates are most likely to be engaged on – as well as using data science to allow right sequence of interactions and right follow-up prompts occur at the right time.

Are humans involved? Yes this is critical. We have a high touch Customer Success Manager overseeing each recruitment process so there is a blend of best-in-class technology and machine learning at the core with humans at the helm. This allows us to automate a huge amount of the heavy lifting part of the sourcing recruitment process so that you can put more human touch into the areas that really matter!

Is there a guarantee for your Candidate Data MAP™ and Interested CV’s to your INBOX™? Yes. If you are not fully satisfied there is a full 100% money back guarantee.

If I join scaleXT, what kind of time commitment am I looking at? We recommend that you only come to scaleXT for urgent critical hires that need to be done at high speed. You will still need to time box appropriate slots of time to move the candidates quickly through the recruitment process.

How do I join the scaleXT Launch programme? Typically joining is by invitation only or through a referral from one of our members. Our next intake for our Launch programme will be in June 2023. Once you have applied to be accepted on the Launch programme and are accepted you will be able to activate job requirements immediately.

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