by Meridith Levinson

United States Imports CEOs from Foreign Countries And Exports CIOs

Dec 12, 20073 mins

The New York Times reports today on the increasing number of American companies whose CEOs were born outside the United States. The NY Times attributes this trend, in part, to the degree to which American companies rely on foreign markets for growth and predicts that this trend will eventually permeate the rest of the C-suite. Quoth The NY Times:

The ranks of top executives will probably become more international, as many business schools now fill their classes with 40 percent or more foreign students, and more companies recruit worldwide.

I’m currently seeing the reverse of this trend in the CIO ranks. While the United States imports CEO talent from Europe, Asia and the Middle East, it’s exporting CIOs to growing economies like China. Lenovo recruited Steve Bandrowczak from DHL in 2005. My colleague Stephanie Overby wrote about the job opportunities for American CIOs in China and the ex-pats who’ve taken them (Emerson’s Charlie Peters and Asimco’s Matt Brennan.)

China isn’t the only country looking to America for CIO talent. British Petroleum recruited Dana Deasy out of GM in September of this year. And Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based Nortel picked up Bandrowczak from Lenovo in July 2007. Australian telecom Telstra tapped American Tom Lemming to take over the CIO role last February when Fiona Balfour was ousted.

This is not to say that the CIO ranks in the United States aren’t going to become more diverse. They already are.

  • You had the Scotsman Tom Trainer in the CIO roles at Seagram, Reebok, Eli Lilly, Citigroup and PepsiCo. (He has since co-founded E.Factor, an online community for entrepreneurs.)
  • the Frenchman Gilles Bouchard at HP. (He’s now COO of Opnext.)
  • the Portugese Cecilia Claudio who was in charge of Zurich Financial’s European, Asian and African IT operations.
  • Verizon CIO Shaygan Kheradpir was born in Iran.

Those are just a few names. There are more.

If the CIO role bucks the trend The NY Times has identified and remains largely American, it’s because the offshore outsourcing trend has forced American CIOs to become more worldly, and that’s precisely the trait corporate boards are demanding from executive teams and the reason why some companies are looking to foreign shores for CEO talent. Again, The NY Times:

Executive recruiters at firms like Korn/Ferry International say that corporate boards are asking more for leaders with experience outside the United States. And American-born executives increasingly are spending part of their careers in different countries.

Do you see American companies looking to foreign shores for CIO talent, or is America the hotbed of CIOs?