CIO US editor Abbie Lundberg has written a very interesting piece suggesting that CIO turnover in North America is becoming more rapid, based mostly on anecdotal and non-empirical evidence, but culled from experts. So what’s going on here in the UK?
You might think that with such pessimistic notions about the short-term state of the economy going around that most CIOs would be sitting tight. However, a survey by Harvey Nash published earlier this year suggested that most UK CIOs plan to move within 24 months. And the word-of-mouth suggestions by CIOs on this side of the pond back this up.
I think there are several reasons for this willingness to embrace a gypsy existence. One is that the one-company career is largely a thing of the past. As companies have flexed workforces, merged or demerged to suit prevailing economic conditions, most of us realize that a life of hopping between employers, like frogs alighting at enticing lily-pads, might be preferable to sitting tight and hoping for a gold carriage clock and pension.
Second, the macro economy is in reality a complex puzzle of economic components, some of which remain bright in the dimmest conditions. Certain areas of technology, retail and energy are very robust right now, for example. If you’re working at VMware or Google where high double-digit growth remains the norm, your definition of depressed might be rather different to somebody working in real estate sales or construction.
Third, the CIOs I meet tend to be noncommittal about their futures because they’re very sharp people and top management will always be in demand in any economic situation. They usually have the loyalty of a Premiership footballer and parcel up their careers in two- to five-year packets, taking roles (perhaps outside of the CIO stream) that interest them and reward them appropriately. And why not?
Finally, it may be that the fear factor of changing company and changing career has gone. The flexible nature of mortgages, savings and so on, has made it more attractive for people to take career holidays, move to cheaper areas and generally recalibrate.