Top-Paid CIOs Work Hard for Their Money

Ann All

While CIOs are expected to employ technology to keep business operations running smoothly, many companies now also want them to find ways to use technology to drive new business. Gartner calls this "amplifying business strategy" and advises CIOs to direct as many discretionary dollars as possible toward that objective.


The good new is, companies appear willing to compensate their CIOs handsomely for doing so, reports Baseline.


Thirty-nine of the CIOs on Baseline's annual list of CIOs that are among the five highest-paid executives at their public companies (a good indicator of the importance of tech to the business) pull down more than $1 million a year, up from 21 on last year's list.


Make no mistake, they earn the big bucks. More than half of the 52 folks on the list manage other business areas in addition to technology. For instance, Alltel's CIO Jeff Fox also manages the company's shared services group -- and earns $9 million for doing so, making him the highest-paid tech exec on the list.


It's worth noting that these execs don't have the largest salaries around. "Superstars" like HP's Randy Mott likely make more, Baseline speculates, even though they are not among the richest execs at their companies.


Not surprisingly, considering the importance of tech to their sectors, CIOs at financial services and retail companies fared pretty well, with 15 financial services execs and 11 retail execs on the list.


Some interesting highlights:


MasterCard's president of global technology and operations comes from a business rather than a tech background. He holds degrees in pharmacy and business and managed sales and marketing at Eli Lilly. This gives him a strong advantage, he says. "I don't have a pre-made framework for what technology can and can't do."


PNC Financial Services Group CIO Tim Shack meets with the company's board several times a year to discuss tech initiatives, sitting down for a three-hour pow-wow last fall in which they examined how each of the company's units is positioned in terms of business and tech trends 12 months and three years out.


Many folks believe such board interaction corresponds closely to a CIO's importance to the business. Unfortunately, relatively few CIOs appear to enjoy this kind of regular contact with their boards.


More good news: CIOs at all companies appear to be faring pretty well financially. Seventy-five percent of CIO respondents to a recent Harvey Nash survey say they are "satisfied" or "extremely satisfied" with their compensation.


Further, the survey found that a desire for more money was not one of the top drivers for CIOs seeking new employment. Instead, CIOs were more interested in "greater involvement in business strategy," "fresh challenge" and "work/life balance."

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