by Meridith Levinson

CIO Salaries, Satisfaction, and Standing Rise

May 11, 20114 mins

Results of a recent CIO survey conducted by executive search firm Harvey Nash show that CIOs are earning more money, expanding their responsibilities, and enjoying greater strategic standing and job satisfaction inside their companies.

Working life is looking up for CIOs in 2011, according to findings from the latest Harvey Nash Global CIO survey, which the executive search firm released yesterday.

More IT leaders report greater fulfillment in their jobs this year (83 percent), compared to last year (72 percent). Consequently, only 23 percent say that they hope to land a new job in the next 12 months.

Bob Miano, CEO of Harvey Nash USA, attributes CIOs’ job satisfaction to the impact of the improving economy on their roles. “When you get into a position where you’re innovating, bringing out new products and services, have more flexibility in your budget, and you’re doing things to help move the company forward, you’re going to have more job satisfaction,” he says.

CIOs’ job satisfaction is also a result—albeit to a lesser degree, according to Miano—of improved compensation. According to the Harvey Nash survey, 39 percent of global CIOs’ base salaries grew in the past year. Last year, only 27 percent of global CIOs saw their base salaries increase. Today, the average base salary for a global CIO is just under $200,000, according to the survey findings. Miano says the number of companies looking to hire CIOs is driving up their pay.

Other factors influencing CIOs’ job satisfaction include an expansion of their roles and improved standing inside their companies. The number of CIOs with global responsibilities increased to 37 percent in 2011, from 32 percent in 2010. Nearly 70 percent of IT leaders believe they’re perceived more strategically inside their organizations this year (69 percent), compared to last year (64 percent). Their role on their companies’ executive management teams backs up their perceptions: Half of respondents are members of the executive management team, up eight percent from 2010.

Despite the growing number of CIOs who think their peers view them as strategic business partners, the majority still don’t report to the CEO: Only 32 percent call the CEO their boss, though that number is up three percent over last year. Approximately one in five CIOs (18 percent) reports to the CFO.

Another area where CIOs have room to grow is on the innovation front. While an overwhelming majority of IT leaders surveyed (74 percent) view innovation and embracing new technology as a key to preserving their companies’ market share as the economy recovers, only 34 percent say their IT organizations are focused on innovation. Indeed, 67 percent of respondents list managing costs and maximizing savings as their top priority for 2011. Contributing to top-line revenue growth ranks as the number one priority for slightly more than one-third (37 percent) of global CIOs.

Miano concedes that the top three priorities for CIOs are operational in nature, rather than innovative. But he notes that the number of CIOs listing cost-cutting as their top priority decreased in 2011 while the number of CIOs listing as job one activities that had to do with improving their companies’ competitive standing increased by five percent.

Budgets, reporting relationships and industry influence a CIOs’ ability to innovate, he adds. “If you’re working for an organization that’s constantly cutting expenses, it’s going to be less innovative,” says Miano. “If you work for a Google or Amazon, you’re in an environment that’s very innovative. If you’re working for Con Edison, you’re not going to have that kind of atmosphere. At a CIO conference in New York, four out of five CIOs on a panel who reported to the CFO said that will restrict you because all CFOs care about is reducing costs and expenses.”

The 2011 CIO Survey was conducted online by Harvey Nash from November 18, 2010 through April 4, 2011. 2,575 senior IT leaders from around the world completed the survey, 85 percent of whom were either C-level or vice president level. PA Consulting Group analyzed the results.

Meridith Levinson covers Careers, Project Management and Outsourcing for Follow Meridith on Twitter @meridith. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Meridith at