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CIO = VP Engineering As Roles Collide

July 4, 2016 at 11:23 AM

As an executive search firm we get involved in many searches involving technology professionals. One of the interesting changes that we are seeing now is the narrowing of the gap between the profiles for CIOs for corporations and VPs of Engineering in software companies.

Twenty years ago CIOs were very internally oriented. The CIO role was concerned with building or buying applications that supported the internal business processes. They did some development but the emphasis was more on integrating applications.  On the other side of the fence there were software firms that typically had VPs of Engineering that worked with product managers on features and functionality of software products, developing and testing products before releasing them into the market.  At that time the CIO and VP Engineering pools were very different.

Now CIOs are much more involved in providing services and products to the end consumers of the business. More and more client interactions and services are delivered through the web, applications and mobile apps. As a result, there is increased demands for CIOs to act more like product owners and develop products in concert with the sales and marketing teams. Companies are producing their own apps that are released for mobile devices and those increasingly have product lifecycles, feature and function discussions, uptake and use by clients as well as customer usability are more critical than ever. In large companies there are many digital product development teams that work for the CIO but who are just as much a part of the business, as they are the technology teams. The CIO of an organization is now as likely to come from a product development background in a software firm, as a traditional internal IT role.  In fact, in our last two senior IT searches the client has asked us to look at individuals that came from a product development background.

Within software companies we are also starting to see a trend towards more professionals moving from internal IT roles to senior leadership roles within the software providers. As more and more software companies switch to a SAAS delivery model the roles are less and less different.

While we do not see a merging of the talent pools in the near future there is certainly a lot more movement back and forth between these two formerly disparate talent streams.

About the Author

Paul Hudson is a partner with StoneWood Group, a leading executive search firm. He has helped organizations attract and select talent for over 20 years.