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Inside the Mind of the CIO: A Candid Conversation

What better way to understand your clients then by getting “Inside the Mind of the CIO: A Candid Conversation." At the recent national conference, TechServe Alliance brought together three CIO’s to discuss what the IT staffing landscape looks like from their perch.

The three were, Yuri Aguiar, Director of Innovation and Transformation, The Ogilvy Group, John Higginson, CTO, Enova International and Christine Stone VP Program Management Office, Brookfield Partners. The panel was led by Anna Frazzetto, CDTO & President, Technology Solutions for Harvey Nash, Inc.

Frazzetto led the discussion by sharing results of the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey 2019, which found that 38% of CIO’s are experiencing major changes in their companies when asked to what extent their organization’s primary business activity will transform over the next 3 years.

The rapid rate of digital transformation continues to create new opportunities, priorities and pain points.

“We feel the winds of change,” said Aguiar. “We’re looking at new strategies every 7 months for our consumer packaged goods clients.”

Aguiar added that this rapid change creates an adaptor or reactor model for organizations.

“I did an informal survey of 100 CIO’s and when I asked what do you do to help your teams along. 70% did not have a cohesive answer. We’re trying to get to a visionary level and that’s what I look for in an IT staffing partner, being a solutions oriented partner.”

Stone added, “I either need capacity and need it quickly, or I have a specific issue to solve. I need a staffing partner that understands the needs on both sides and can provide a good fit.”

Higginson said, “I want a partner that really works to get to know us and our culture. We’re looking to build a long term relationship.”

Higginson and the others also saw diversity in hiring as a primary mandate.

“It’s important for our partners to bring us diverse candidates. That keeps you in the family in my company.”

“We have a lot of discussions about diversity,” said Stone. “We have new targets that we’re looking for every department to have a 50/50 ratio of men to women.”

Stone and the others see diversity in broader terms as well.

“Liberal Arts majors are underrepresented,” said Stone. “Liberal Arts majors are taught how to think about things that others are not.”

“When we ask people for their specialization, we look at their major, but also their secondary major,” said Aguiar. “This helps us create more diversity of thought within our teams.”

Part of the reasons for this shift in thinking on hiring has been necessitated by the shortage of talent and a need to look beyond traditional approaches. The biggest applause of the session was in response to Stone’s seeing the need to bypass the HR assessment funnel.

“I’m looking for the odd things that can lead to successful candidates. “Change is coming so rapidly, the more we don’t make assumptions on what the ideal candidate looks like, the better we’ll be at bringing the right talent.”

This part of the discussion led to talk of VMS and its limitations. “There’s a place for VMS,” said Frazzetto. “But you need to also look outside of it, especially for specialized candidates.”

The panel also discussed how these rapid shifts in the marketplace are informing how they approach workplace culture.

“We want to embody a culture of evolution and excitement for crazy ideas,” said Stone. “We hold onto employees better with that approach.”

“We set 6 month milestones to see how things are shifting,” said Aguiar.

Stone added, “You get more pride of ownership from staff if you welcome thoughtful, periodic adjustments and get more input from teams. It improves performance and it makes work a little more fun.”