By @SimonCocking, interesting insights with Martha Heller CEO of Heller Search Associates, an executive search firm that specializes in recruiting CIOs, CTOs and CISOs. Author of two books on IT leadership and the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Latest book is Be the Business: CIOs in the New Era of IT.

1 min pitch for what you are doing now / what is your current role?

I am the CEO of Heller Search Associates, an executive search firm that specializes in recruiting CIOs, CTOs and CISOs. In addition, I am the author of two books on IT leadership and the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). My latest book is Be the Business: CIOs in the New Era of IT.

What will you be talking about at DES in Madrid? 

Since all of a company’s customers, employees and partners are using their technology all of the time, technology cannot simply belong to IT anymore. Instead, CIOs must now distribute the IT function — leadership, budget, development — across the enterprise. The operating model of IT needs to undergo change. Be the Business is about this major shift, and it contains stories from of dozens of top CIOs who were generous enough to share them with me. But even more importantly, I have defined the top ten skills and behaviors that CIOs need to develop if they are going to be successful in this new era. These CIO skills or attributes are the focus of my presentation at DES.

Familiar skills such as “Communication,” “business acumen,” and “relationship building” continue to be important for an IT leader, but now they are just a drop in the bucket. Since technology belongs to everyone, new skills are required. CIOs must be able to “Think Product,” for example, and shift the IT organization’s project management culture to one of product management. Another top CIO skill is the ability to turn IT consumers into co-investors, by teaching the C-suite and all stakeholders about the true costs of IT.

What inspired you to attend it?

The host for the CIOs Summit at DES is someone in the IT industry that I know and respect, Michael Krigsman. I was invited last year, and a schedule conflict made it impossible for me to appear in Madrid, but I am thrilled that it has worked out for the 2017 conference.

The Digital Maturity Journey, key concepts in digital transformation at DES – Digital Business World Congress

How was 2016, what worked well, what didn’t move as quickly as you would have liked?

There was a lot of uncertainty in early 2016, due to concerns around the upcoming presidential election, and global events. As a result, some executive search projects were cancelled or placed on hold. But things recovered by the middle of the second quarter, and overall, 2016 was a very good year for our business.

What are your plans for 2017?

The executive search team at Heller Search has been busier than ever since the start of 2017 and we do not see that changing any time soon. We have observed that the number of searches we are conducting for CISOs and other heads of cybersecurity has taken a major jump, which is understandable. My number one priority right now adding top executive recruiting talent to our team so that we can meet demand for our services.

Which influencers and websites do you follow to keep up to date with the latest developments?

Before entering the world of executive search, I was a columnist at CIO magazine, and I still write a regular blog on CIO.com so naturally I follow industry news on that website. As a CEO and manager of people, I find that the articles on HBR.org are very educational. Michael Krigsman’s show CXOTalk is great, and Peter High, President of Metis Strategy, has an excellent blog featuring CIOs on Forbes.com.

How can people find out more about what you are working on?

The best way to hear about our recruiting projects and receive all of our thought leadership is to subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter, The Heller Report, which can be found on our website, https://www.hellersearch.com.


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