How to Move Up During Restructuring

Sometimes, you can make lemonade when your company is reorganizing or being acquired.

A restructuring doesn't always mean you're going to lose your job. Though the word has come to connote desperate cost cutting and massive layoffs, sometimes an executive can make lemonade from this situation.

Jim Ward's move from acting CIO to official CIO in August came amid an "organizational realignment" at his company, transportation and logistics provider Pacer International. Much like typical corporate restructurings, the realignment at Pacer is intended to streamline operations, strengthen core businesses and encourage integration across businesses, according to the company.

Jerry Wackerhagen was promoted from executive VP and CIO of Cash America International to president of retail lending services amid a management "realignment" designed "to establish management efficiencies and facilitate future growth," according to a company press release. (Some companies have given up the dirty word "restructuring" in favor of the kinder, gentler realignment.)

To move up (or to stay put) while others are moving out (assuming you still want to work for your firm after it's been restructured or realigned) be sure to make friends with the leadership team that's going to remain after such changes, says Gerry McNamara, a recruiter with Heidrick & Struggles. If your newly restructured company is in acquisition mode, McNamara says a CIO has to be able to answer the following questions about an acquisition target if he or she wants a chance to stay on board: Who has the better systems, and how long will that take to determine? How quickly can we move the acquired company's data over to our systems, and how much will it cost?

"If you are an IT leader who understands technology and business strategy and has enamored him- or herself with corporation's leadership, you're going to be part of that team going forward," says McNamara.

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