The new CIO job description: change agent

The Blueprint: For years, the evolution of the CIO role was straight and steady. IT leaders knew exactly what was expected of them: to perform a great portfolio of technical tasks with the ultimate goal of smoothly orchestrated technology operations — within a prescribed budget. The best-in-class CIO profile was a person who could oversee an organization’s applications and infrastructure, a complex role that required a savvy candidate highly skilled in leadership and communication. But at its heart, a CIO’s job description was straightforward: to be a functional head of technology.

In the last few years, that job description has pivoted dramatically. Suddenly, being a functional manager is not enough. Technology is no longer considered simply an operational leader for companies, but a value creator, the primary driver of digital transformation, with the CIO in a central business role. Today, CIOs are expected to be agents of change.

The emerging and evolving CIO job description

Shawn Banerji has been sourcing premier CIO candidates for over 25 years. As a managing partner for Caldwell Partners, one of the fastest growing executive search and assessment firms, Banerji helps clients identify the precise talent to help them achieve their desired business outcomes in an increasingly digital world. In recent years, he’s seen the attributes and competencies in the traditional CIO toolkit become less relevant to the emerging CIO paradigm of transformational leadership.

“The new generation of CIO,” says Banerji, “Consists of individuals transcending technology as an operating lever and process tool, and deploying technology in ways that are fundamentally changing how organizations do business.” This shift is happening because businesses are no longer simply looking to automate their existing processes or digitize their revenue sources. Today, they’re looking to create innovative new business models and build atop the capabilities suddenly inherent with technology, particularly cloud-based platforms and SaaS (software as a service) tools.

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