by Pete Coleman

Pete Coleman, a CIO in transition

Apr 11, 20143 mins
CareersFinancial Services Industry

I haven’t got a job. I am of a generation where those few words strike fear in my heart. If I talk to young people they expect breaks in their career as entirely normal, but I can still remember jobs for life and my work ethic was ingrained as a child where not having a job means I am bad, and having a job means I am good. Looking round the room at the grey hairs at the recent CIO 100 event I suspect there are a fair few of us brought up like that.

On the flip side however, we CIOs are good at handling change. We have seen enough of it over the years.  And in my particular case, having been part of the Co-op Bank during the last tumultuous year has certainly given me a level of resilience. So finding a job will become my new job and it may be useful to others if I share the journey I have been on so far.

The first challenge is to know where to start. I decided that I would treat this like a project, so before I did anything I needed to decide what my objective is. I could say goodbye to all this and open a tea shop in Cumbria. I could take advantage of my current experiences and go back into consulting. I could offer myself as an interim in what feels to be a very buoyant market. In the end I have decided I really like being a permanent CIO. The opportunity to be part of transforming another business is just too exciting to put aside.  It feels like our time. Technology is at the heart of so many business strategies, and the world is changing so fast that boards need people like us to help them navigate through.

OK. So if that is my goal how do I get there? Gartner shared a trend with me that something like 10% of senior hires are directly advertised, 30% are filled through headhunters, and 60% come from networking. Despite this my first approach was to the headhunters. There are only about six major players for CIOs and I think I have met them all now. They tell me my CV is strong and it will just be a matter of time. They are an odd breed though. They can switch attention in a blink from you being the only person in the world they care about, to completely ignoring you. I am optimistic one of these will work out, but I have a burning need to take control so I need to take action at the same time.

Networking then is my next step. I have begun making the calls, trawling my contacts for people who might help. It is a little scary but I have discovered that my friends and colleagues genuinely want to help. All I have to do is ask. When I updated my LinkedIn profile I was inundated by offers and ideas. Overwhelming. Interestingly it also generated a flurry of media queries. I had forgotten that I can be a story too, especially when my company is such big news.

I also need to take the time to target directly companies that I admire. That is going to take more time, research and perspective so I’ll wait until I have left my current role and can dedicate myself.

I haven’t got a job. I am excited about what adventures await.