Like the “ideal candidate” section of any high-end want ad, the full range of education, skills and experience sought in corporate CIOs is daunting. As both business and technical demands increase, the question is whether it’s too much for one person.

“It’s a case of looking for that superstar who can do both. It’s the equivalent of looking for a CFO who knows the business,” says Mark Polansky, North American sector leader for the IT officers practice at executive search firm Korn/Ferry International.

At the same time, any senior executive needs strong lieutenants. “A lot of CIOs have a chief of staff who’s able to handle some of the daily operations,” says George Westerman, a research scientist at the MIT Sloan School’s Center for Information Systems Research.

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