Career Watch: Trends in senior IT exec recruitment

Turnover's are being driven by generational change

The leader of Spencer Stuart's information officer practice, Richard J. Brennen, talks about trends in senior-level IT executive recruitment.

Are you seeing an increase in turnover among senior IT executives? What factors are driving this?

We have. We've seen a rash of retirements in different companies, and it's literally a generational change.

Over the past couple of years, the thing that's driven our [recruitment] business on the senior end is changes in top leadership, where an incoming CEO or CFO wants to bring in their own team, and that has continued to drive change.

Is there some level of wanderlust in the market, where CIOs who have been with a particular organization for several years are looking for new challenges?

I think that's the nature of the job. If you look at a new CIO, it typically takes them a year or so to get to know the organization, to develop a strategy and then get executive buy-in on the strategy. Then it takes three or four years to execute on that strategy.

Now you're five or six years into the job. So if your company isn't doing exciting things, like getting into new product lines or expanding into new geographies, then you might be looking for new challenges. But if the company remains an exciting place to work, the executives tend to stay. -- Thomas Hoffman

The Bored Ones Can't Be in IT

More employees report being overworked than having time on their hands.

  • I have too much to do: 22 per cent
  • I have too little to do: 14 per cent

Source: multi-industry, multinational Sirota Survey Intelligence data, January 2008; Sirota Consulting.

Major Dilemma

An academic study has addressed the question of why students aren't majoring in computer science, though the findings are far from definitive.

Published in the spring 2008 edition of the Journal of Information Systems Management, the study was based on a survey of 303 students, 56 per cent of them male, enrolled in an introductory business class at a large Midwestern university. The respondents said they knew more about careers in management, marketing, accounting and finance than they knew about careers in IT. They said they were looking for majors that would be interesting, provide them with initial and long-term job security, and pay them well.

The students cited college and departmental Web sites, brochures about the major, and information on the Internet as the most important information resources for selecting a major.

None of those sources, however, was rated as more than average in importance. When asked why they were not majoring in computer science, the top two reasons given were that it "wasn't what they wanted to do" and the "subject matter was not of interest."

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