May 10, 2013 (05:05 AM EDT)
Where Do Higher Education CIOs Come From?
Read the Original Article at InformationWeek
In career-path discussions, there has been a lot of noisy debate about whether candidates are being groomed from within higher education, or whether hiring committees are tapping outside industries in search of fresh candidates. If they are imported, what industries are supplying these migrating CIOs? Are they different from the CIOs who have cultivated entire careers within higher education? Is there a gender advantage? It's worth tackling this migration question, and separating fact from fiction and future from past.
In April 2013, the Center for Higher Education CIO Studies Inc. (CHECS) conducted its 9th annual higher education senior technology leader study, surveying more than 2,700 CIOs at higher education institutions in the United States and internationally. Three hundred and sixty-one technology executives responded from all major higher education-institution types.
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The study found that of the responding CIOs, a solid 74% had worked in higher education in their last position. Healthcare, nonprofit, public or commercial sectors supplied the remaining 26%, and of these four industries, the commercial sector dominated at 18%.
Just 8% of CIOs came to higher education from the nonprofit, public and healthcare sectors. Setting aside these three sectors, let's look at the dominating commercial sector only.
The results reveal differences between those IT executives who have worked in higher education and those who moved to the senior role from the commercial sector. Time served in the different sectors is one difference, and it chronicles the CIO migration.
Higher ed tech leaders often discuss how there is a current influx of CIOs entering academe from industry -- but the study does not show any dramatic surge. On average, the CIOs have logged more than 15 years working in higher education IT, a fairly consistent finding since 2007. In contrast, CIOs averaged only six years in technology outside higher education. These numbers support the idea that any migration from industry to higher education likely occurred more than a decade ago.
Comparing how long higher ed CIOs have been in their current position against those with a commercial background revealed another pattern. The CIOs groomed from within higher ed had been in their positions for an average of seven years, while the CIOs from the commercial section had been in their positions for an average of nine years -- two years longer. This result is further evidence that a commercial-industry CIO migration is neither radical nor novel.
Demographics offered some more insight. The greatest difference was education. It's clearly important in higher education. In fact, 95% of the institution management team -- other VPs and presidents -- believe a higher ed CIO should have an advanced degree. It should come as no surprise that 83% of the higher ed CIOs had an advanced degree compared to 67% from the commercial sector.
As for gender, women with higher ed backgrounds seemed to have a slight advantage over those from the commercial sector. There was a greater percentage of female CIOs from higher ed (21%) than from the commercial sector (16%). The commercial-sector CIOs not only were more likely to be male, but marginally younger than their higher ed peers: 61% were 51 years old or older, compared to 66% of the higher ed CIOs. About the same percentage -- 50% -- were likely to retire within the next decade, though. The percentages were 51% for higher ed and 48% for the commercial sector.
Two benchmarks helped defined the importance of the CIO to the institution: whether the CIO serves on the institution management team (IMT) and whether he or she reports to the institution CEO. In both cases, the higher ed CIOs led, but not by much. Thirty-three percent of higher ed CIOs reported to the CEO compared to the commercial sector's 30%. There was a 5% difference in IMT service, with higher ed CIOs at 56% and commercial-sector CIOs at 51%.
Bottom lines? Although slightly over a quarter of higher ed CIOs came from other industries, the research does not support the idea that a migration has been sudden or dramatic. In fact, commercial-sector CIOs have been in their current position longer than their higher education-grown counterparts. As a whole, the surveyed CIOs have invested significantly more time working in technology within academia than outside of it.
In sum, the CIOs from the two groups don't differ much -- with the exception of education level, where higher ed CIOs have a big edge.
The CIO report and the accompanying technology leader report (those in the next organizational layer down from the CIO) will be available from CHECS in June 2013.