Wednesday, 28 November 2018 12:22

Tech leaders harbour ambitions for company top jobs: report

Tech leaders harbour ambitions for company top jobs: report Image courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn at

Almost nine in 10 (87%) Australian CIOs are motivated to become CEO/managing director of their company, according to new research that reveals that despite the level of ambition expressed by Australia’s technology leaders, finance is still the dominant background for almost half of all ASX 200 CEOs.

According to recruitment firm Robert Half its CEO Tracker research indicates that technology plays an increasingly important role in shaping the future direction of Australian companies.

While delivering unique business insights from a financially strategic viewpoint remains a highly valuable skillset, having a background in finance is no longer the only path to achieving this objective, Robert Half says.

“The shrinking percentage of CEOs with a financial background (down from 50% in 2017) suggests that more companies are considering diverse skillsets that can be applied to changing business dynamics, such as technological acumen.”

The research also shows that while only 8% of ASX 200 CEOs currently come from a technology background, almost four in 10 (39%) technology leaders believe CIOs/CTOs and Technology Directors are the main contenders for the CEO/managing director role.

And comparatively, one in four (25%) CIOs think the CFO/Finance Director is next in line for the top job, followed by 9% who believe the COO/Operations Director is the main contender.

“Technology-based skillsets are becoming increasingly influential in developing future business strategies. Today, strategic business decisions are more often than not driven by technology and innovation,” says David Jones, senior managing director of Robert Half Asia Pacific.

“Business leaders who want to climb the corporate ladder increasingly understand the importance digitisation has in shaping the future direction of the organisation, highlighting the need for executives to embrace, understand and develop technological acumen.”

When asked what actions they need to take to reach the next stage in their career, more than half (53%) of Australia’s CIOs say they need to increase their expertise in how the departments can drive business growth/sales, followed by 48% who refer to developing a better understanding of internal business functions other than IT.

In addition, 43% of Australia’s tech leaders say they need to gain experience in business/commercial acumen and 33% point to experience in another part of the organisation.

“Furthermore, CIOs on this path might find their ongoing commitment and loyalty pays off. Promoting from within the organisation seems common for Australian business leaders, with 60% of ASX 200 CEOs having been promoted internally,” the report says.

“Many CIOs have the capacity to position themselves as game-changers within their organisation, as the role of technology has increased dramatically in the wider business context,” says David Jones.

“Successful CIOs who are aiming for the top job combine their technical know-how with business knowledge. They understand the need to build partnerships across the organisation, not just for their future career success, but also to help generate business value from key digital initiatives.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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