istock number1411

According to Gartner, a challenge for CIOs has seen 29% of the digital leaders taking on too many responsibilities. The demand of the role requires support from a team of digital experts to assign tasks and work towards the shared business goals.

CIO UK looks at what do CIOs look for hiring their digital team, with comments from leading UK executives on finding their ideal candidate during the employment process. (See also: Why a CIO should rely on their digital team)

What do CIOs look for when hiring: Diversity

According to the Gartner CIO Agenda, the research firm cited diversity as one of the key strategies to drive innovation in 2017.

Developing diversity through attracting and retaining talent has been seen as a way of tackling the skills shortage in IT departments.  

The 2016 CIO Summit was more diverse than previous years with Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust’s CIO Rachel Dunscombe, Thomson Reuters SVP Transformation’s Christine Ashton and BMJ’s Chief Digital Officer Sharon Cooper discussed how they are driving digital transformation.

A diverse pipeline can be used as a foundation for increasing diversity across organisations, and CIO Brendan O’Rourke looks for diversity when hiring his digital experts at Telefonica 02 UK.

“A lot of our IT and technology is looking to employee technologies in certain senior roles. I personally look for diversity with my leadership team being over 50% female, growing that team over the last three years,” he said.

The CIO has seen getting the right mix of skills, approaches and attitudes in a CIO team as critical for having a competitive advantage.

“I think the more diverse the better solutions you are going to have with a mixture of people in my team with some being focused on delivery while others looking outside the box and who want to be constantly challenged,” he said.

A diverse team of digital experts can help CIOs develop creative ideas and lead to a wider range of customers within their organisations.

What do CIOs look for when hiring: Staying relevant and an understanding of the business

Tackling issues such as the skills shortage remain prevalent in technology sectors, working with external organisations can help build a larger pool of talent through training and learning opportunities.

A lot is expected of CIOs and their digital experts with issues such as IT security, computer networking and cloud are seen as important skills to develop in 2017. According to Spiceworks Tech Career Outlook survey, 69% of IT professionals plan to move roles to advance their IT skills.

Earlier this year, CIO UK wrote about Ford’s CIO Marcy Klevorn on how people skills are becoming crucial to the CIO role and how she has adapted her skills and experience in the executive role to stop her from falling behind.

“When I started this job, I needed to find ways to make a very big place seem very small,” she said. “So I brainstormed with the team, and we decided we’re just going to try some things. Some might work, and some might not, but that’s OK – we’ll learn.”

Before her appointment as a CIO, Klevorn was responsible for collaboration tools, IT functions and application support globally for Ford.

“Not starting out as a pure technologist helped me lead with relationships, building trust, and seeking to understand first, and then come with the solution next,” she said.

Klevorn’s managerial and leadership skills have allowed her digital experts to develop their IT skills “having the kind of roles they want to have” and stay relevant in the industry.

Staying relevant in the technology sector remains a challenge for CIOs and hiring their digital experts, with 22% of CIOs saying it remains a barrier to their success, according to Gartner.

Keeping up with the demands of IT and its customers is only a fraction of what is expected of digital role today, and Head of IT Nicola Graham has seen behaviour and attitude contribute to what she looks for when hiring at Aberdeenshire Council.  

“The kinds of skills are changing needing different kinds of technical roles, such as cybersecurity and non-technical people who can understand the business,” she said. “We look for people who will fit our positive culture, who have great people skills and who can help us find solutions to problems.”

While having the relevant skills is important for technology sectors today a greater understanding of the business is crucial for digital experts to add credibility to their roles.

What do CIOs look for when hiring: Innovation

The CIO’s role has become a balancing act keeping up with customer demands and managing responsibilities.

As CIOs embrace the change they should have the support of their digital experts by delegating tasks and sharing business goals to get the best out of their team. While team collaboration and communication are great ways to engage with members of the team, COO Duncan Gooding says standing out is something he looks for in a digital expert at TalkTalk Business.

“I think trying to stand out and do things differently is one of the best things about TalkTalk,” he said. “We do thrive on being an entrepreneurial business and so we are allowed to think outside the box”.

Gooding, who joined the telecom organisation in December as its Chief Operation Officer, will see his role focus on ‘adding value, exploring all opportunities and building a great team’ at TalkTalk Business.

“As the COO I am always challenging the norm not just on the day to day what we do but also in terms of how we can potentially do it….striving to be like that then the results will speak volumes of making a difference in your role,” he said.

While recognising talent and having the right skill sets can help digital experts stand out for CIOs, having a diverse workforce can add value, stay relevant and help deliver innovation. (Read next: 13 recruitment tips for CIOs looking to secure entry-level talent)