by Meridith Levinson

Is there such a thing as a celebrity CIO?

Dec 09, 20052 mins

Earlier this week, Liberum Research sent to me its latest research on the number of management changes that took place in November.  Last month, 2,209 management changes took place across corporate boards, C-level executives and VPs—up from 2,059 in October.  Hirings, firings, resignations, retirements, promotions and lateral moves constitute the kinds of management changes Liberum tracks.  Of those 2,209 changes, 259 were CEOs and 17 were CIOs.  In September and October, Liberum reported 10 and 13 CIO changes respectively.

Liberum’s management change stats, which have shown management change on the rise for the past four months, are particularly interesting in light of an article I read in yesterday’s New York Times about changes taking place in executive suites across corporate America.  The Times reports that corporate boards are increasingly looking to hire CEOs with proven operating experience as opposed to celebrity CEOs.  As evidence of such a trend, the Times points to HP’s appointment of Mark Hurd to replace Carly Fiorina and Disney’s selection of Robert Iger to succeed Michael Eisner, among others.  Shawn Banerji, a recruiter with Russell Reynolds, reminded me that this trend has been going on for several years now, since the corporate scandals of 2002. (The Times should have consulted with Banerji before leaning on such a passżngle!)

But I wonder if this same trend away from the cult of personality in favor of more understated individuals with proven track records is taking place for CIOs?  What do you think? Do IT executives even have their own stable of celebrity CIOs the way CEOs do?  Who do you think these celebrity CIOs are? I can think of a few possibilities: FedEx’s Rob Carter, Tyco’s Dana Deasy, Campbell Soup’s Doreen Wright. But those individuals are more than just personality. They certainly have proven track records and know how to execute.  Do you think there’s been a trend toward companies appointing celebrity CIOs that is on the wane or might wane in the future?  Use the feedback mechanism to share your thoughts.