Why Some CIOs Have More Staying Power Than Others

Some CIOs outlast the typical five-year tenure by avoiding classic blunders, winning the CEO’s confidence and enjoying a dash of good luck.

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Next year, Peter Weis, CIO of Matson, an ocean transportation and logistics company, will see the completion of a long-term IT transformation project that he conceived and nurtured for most of a decade. "We're heading into our eighth and final year," he says. "When we're done, we'll have retired every single legacy IT platform. Our mainframe will be shut down."

Finishing this transformation project is a source of enormous pride for him and his team. "The day-to-day pain of working on a project like this fades, but the deep satisfaction stays," he says.

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It's an experience many CIOs will never have.

Weis has been CIO at Matson for nine years, but the average CIO tenure is just five years and four months, according to a recent CIO magazine survey. This may be good news for the CIOs who spend their careers climbing the ladder by moving from company to company. But most CIOs find themselves leaving positions where they would have preferred to stay.

"When we do get called in to do a CIO search, more often than not we're being asked to replace someone who is not succeeding," notes Phil Schneidermeyer, partner at executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles and a CIO columnist.

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