Canadian CIO salary survey highlights, and what they mean

Ah, to be working as a technology leader for a mining company in Edmonton. That’s where the real money is.

I’m a bit late getting to this, but last month the CIO Association of Canada released the results of its second-annual salary survey. Among the highlights:

  • Average salary plus bonus is down to $196K from $202K, although when you take out bonuses overall base pay is up slightly.
  • Besides mining, where the average salary was $277K, other hot verticals for CIOs included financial services (naturally) and retail. The average bonus in financial services looks like it was chopped in about half, though.
  • Women make about the same as male CIOs.

The Edmonton thing is based primarily on a CIOCAN chapter that’s still pretty small, and if you want to look at an much larger overall sample size beyond the CIO title, we obviously have ComputerWorld Canada’s annual salary survey published this past spring (You can also try our Salary Calculator to assess your worth).  

To me, however, the most interesting stat was the percentage of those CIOs who said they were “somewhat unsatisfied” with their salaries: 27 per cent. Last year it was only 14 per cent. That still means most Canadian CIOs are happy with what they’re pulling in, but as the margin of dissatisfaction grows in the minority, so too will the potential for IT executive churn. This is where you have to think carefully about how, in difficult economic times, to motivate leaders with things other than money.

The best thing I’ve read on this subject lately comes from the ever-insightful Clay Christiansen, who recently published a thoughtful reflection in the Harvard Business Review about metrics for success. An excerpt:

I have a pretty clear idea of how my ideas have generated enormous revenue for companies that have used my research; I know I’ve had a substantial impact. But as I’ve confronted this disease, it’s been interesting to see how unimportant that impact is to me now. I’ve concluded that the metric by which God will assess my life isn’t dollars but the individual people whose lives I’ve touched.

I think that’s the way it will work for us all. Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people.

This sounds about right. Time to start thinking about how CIOs can nurture, develop and create a lasting impact on the IT managers and technology staff under their influence, and how their employers can help them. Worth pursuing whether you’re a well-paid Canadian CIO or not.