The CIO search: Separating yourself from the pack

Shawn Banerji, managing director at New York-based executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates Inc., acknowledges that the CIO search is among the most daunting in the world of IT executive recruiting. So what can CIOs do to get themselves noticed?

In this video interview, filmed at the 2012 MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Cambridge, Mass., Banerji sits down with Executive Editor Christina Torode to explain the IT skill sets companies hot on the CIO search seek, and what he's seeing in terms of CIO recruiting demands now, and in the long haul.

Read a partial transcript from the interview below, and watch the video, to learn more about how CIOs can stand out in an interview and capture the attention of executive recruiters.

What are the desired skill sets that companies are coming to you for [in their CIO search]?

Shawn Banerji: I think there are two answers for that. There are certainly attributes that organizations are looking for in their CIOs. First and foremost is leadership. Historically, CIOs have not been considered great leaders. Many CIOs have been promoted because of their technical skills, their influencing skills, their listening skills or their business-relationship management skills. When we come to a situation where there was a CIO and that person has left the organization, whether it was their own decision or they've been [let go], inevitably you hear about the relationship aspect and the leadership aspect of the skill set and [the organization] always wants to improve upon that.

If you look at what many people have historically considered as a soft skill, those are really hard and important skills. On the flip side, [we could look] at it and say, "Where are the specific areas that people have to have expertise?" vis-à-vis technology and people who are now fluent in outsourcing. And when I say outsourcing, I really mean things like SaaS [Software as a Service], cloud-based infrastructure and other hosted solutions. So, how do you take fixed costs and move those things to variable costs? The other area is security -- which, at the moment, if someone came to us and said, "Look, I'm interested in technology. Is there a specific aspect of the IT function that I should be building in my repertoire?" I would tell them that security is a hot topic right now that we predict will only continue to grow over time.

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