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CIO Salaries And The Capitalist's Killer Instinct

Although CIOs are an emerging presence in the executive suite, few IT executives have the business qualifications or capitalist's killer instinct for making money," says executive search firm Egon Zehnder. So what about you: Are you an animal-spirits capitalist or a pay-me-whatever-you-want Milquetoast?
"Although CIOs are an emerging presence in the executive suite, few IT executives have the business qualifications or capitalist's killer instinct for making money," says executive search firm Egon Zehnder. So what about you: Are you an animal-spirits capitalist or a pay-me-whatever-you-want Milquetoast?In the portion of the firm's Web site aimed at IT executives is an article with the headline, "CIOs: Rising Demand For Business-Oriented IT Leaders Boosts Pay." While not containing any big surprises, the piece reiterates some fundamental truths about the CIO role:

  • "Managing IT as a black box/cost center is no longer an acceptable approach -- tomorrow's IT officers need to be both business and technology leaders."

  • "Beyond driving efficiency and cost reduction, companies want greater leverage of their immense investment in IT; they expect technology to improve business performance and drive revenue-generation opportunities."
  • For business-technology leaders who meet those requirements, Egon Zehnder says, "Top CIOs hired by Fortune 50 companies can expect to earn salaries starting at $400,000 and totaling over $1,000,000, including bonuses and other perks... More typical is a base salary of around $300,000 plus bonuses amounting to 40% to 60% of pay, depending on the extent to which compensation is tied to business performance."

    Now, those last few words strike me as odd -- if you're a CIO and expect to be perceived as an equal peer by the other C-level executives in your organization, then what other type of compensation could you expect to have other than one that "is tied to business performance"? In fact, if your current comp package isn't structured that way, then making it so should be a top priority.

    All in all, the Egon Zehnder article is on target even though a tad predictable, but I really liked the hard-slap-across-the-face line about a skill most CIOs lack: "few IT executives have the business qualifications or capitalist's killer instinct for making money." Is that a skill you've got?