Meet the Millionaire CIOs

CIOs rank among top paid execs at 47 Fortune 1000 companies

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You Gotta Have Friends

The only other CIO to break the $10 million mark since 2000 was Randy Mott of Hewlett-Packard in 2005. A stock award of $7.1 million that year, when he quit Dell for HP, drove his compensation up.

Ten million dollars is "rarefied air," says Chris Patrick, a partner in the global leader CIO practice at recruiting firm Egon Zehnder. So what does it take to operate in such an atmosphere?

Just ask Glen Salow. The executive vice president of service delivery and technology at Ameriprise didn't get to No. 2 on the list, with a $7 million pay package, without learning along the way what makes a high-powered CIO. Mostly, he says, it's the people around the CIO.

Salow surrounds himself with colleagues who voice diverse perspectives, and he holds on to those with whom he works well, including an intellectual property attorney and a number of communications professionals at both the corporate level and within the technology group.

A Snapshot in Time

Caveat: Those on our list are not necessarily the highest-paid CIOs in the U.S. for the past year. There may be other CIOs who took home multiple millions. But we don't know who they are because other officers at their company had bigger pay packages and the SEC requires that compensation be revealed for only the top five.

Ralph Szygenda, CIO at General Motors, for example, is someone recruiters regard as a top CIO, but he did not make our list; the lowest-paid of GM's top five officers last year was Thomas Stephens, who, for leading global powertrain and quality, got $4.9 million. Maybe Szygenda made $4.8 million. GM declines to comment.

And, of course, there may be CIOs raking it in at private companies, which keep their financial data, including compensation, secret.

For those reasons, we can't draw statistical comparisons year over year from this compensation data. Rather, the list is a snapshot—a revealing one, to be sure—of one measure of the CIO.

Our No. 1

Bank of America's Desoer typifies several aspects of the technology elite. Financial services firms are built on IT and traditionally pay their IT leaders well. Hence, financial firms dominate the list, with 15 included. Also, like 20 others on the list, Desoer is more than a CIO. She manages the bank's several CIOs, oversees operations and sits on its management operating committee, among other duties.

Wearing two and three hats can be a fruitful, if exhausting, career path for CIOs. Desoer has been at the bank for three decades and led marketing and then consumer products before taking on technology and operations in 2005. That's a diverse background for a CIO, but one that reflects a hunger for well-rounded technologists who understand how their companies make money and know what customers want, even before they want it.

For example, Desoer oversees Bank of America's bill payment program, which accounts for 25 percent of all payment transactions in the U.S., the bank says. That's a heck of a lot more strategic than managing an application rollout. Last year, the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, named her "Business Leader of the Year."

Who's Your Buddy?

Any CIO expecting to rise high must find common ground with the CEO, says Egon Zehnder's Patrick. "Make his or her goals your goals," he says.

As Ameriprise's Salow puts it, "Any CIO who doesn't say the No. 1 person they need to have a great relationship with is the CEO is kidding himself."

CEOs think so, too, according to Bob Badavas, president and CEO of staffing firm TAC Worldwide, a private company. The best CIOs aren't assessed by how infrequently servers fail or whether employees can get e-mail on the road. Those IT operations items are assumed, just like similar basics by the CFO, Badavas said, speaking at the CIO Leadership conference in May. "CIOs must move beyond the plumbing," he said. "CIOs are paid to take a full seat at the strategic planning table."

Steve Morin, TAC's VP and CIO, declined to discuss what he gets paid.

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