"A CIO needs to have recruiting firms that understand how he or she thinks," he says. His shared history with Pannagl means positions are filled quickly, making Sadin more efficient. Pannagl's success rates are better than those of internal human resources groups he has worked with in the past, Sadin says.
To fill jobs, says Pannagl, the two talk about the business goals of Sadin's company. Then they compare people they both know in terms of personality, technology backgrounds and competencies. They've come up with about a dozen IT staff prototypes they refer to in these conversations, Pannagl says. Shorthand like that is "very important," adds Sadin, "especially in a high-change or high-pressure environment."
If a recruiter knows a CIO's plans three or six or more months out, he can earmark candidates for those future projects. "This intimate relationship with Wayne and his staff lets us understand the goals of the company, which allows us to screen candidates better," Pannagl says. "Wayne knows I'm not going to bite the hand that feeds me."
We all know CIOs who can't talk business strategy as well as they should. Yet it's one of the most important skills a CEO wants from a CIO. Many technology leaders will admit to needing help to convey their ideas to colleagues above and below. A publicist can help with that, as well as build the CIO's reputation outside the company. A CIO with a good image can attract new talent to the IT department.
Chicago-based Wendy Serafin spotted this need when a former coworker became the CIO of her company, and few people outside of IT knew of his talents and achievements. She was working in the marketing department and knew she could get the word out about her modest IT friend better than he could himself. She did so, then started her own business handling communications for tech-exec clients.
"Business results are there but they camouflage it with IT-speak," Serafin says. For one client, CUNA Mutual Group, a financial services firm with $8.3 billion in assets, Serafin develops the IT annual report. The booklet tells the story of the IT department's strategy, vision and accomplishments each year along with other metrics to quantify the department's successes.
It also highlights how IT runs like a business. Executives will sometimes take it on sales calls with prospective clients to show how CUNA Mutual's IT strategy supports business goals, she says. Serafin's other clients have included the Information Technology Association of Wisconsin-where she advised CIOs how to communicate their accomplishments. In addition, from 1999 to 2001, Serafin worked with Rick Roy, then CIO at Metavante a $1.6 billion banking technology firm. One of her roles was communication leader for Metavante's internal technology steering committee, helping to convey the group's purpose and results to the rest of the company. Roy is now SVP of Customer Operations at CUNA Mutual, and gave Serafin the entree to the company.
Another task for Serafin: Getting CUNA Mutual technology leaders quoted in business media, either through press interviews or writing articles. CIOs who don't market themselves and their group this way may be hurting their companies' ability to attract talent, she says.
"They don't understand the impact external communications can have for recruiting and retention," she says. "The next-generation workforce looks at blogs and websites and Google when they're looking for a job. They have to find you." The CIO's reputation does influence potential hires, agrees Egon Zehnder's Patrick. Big-name CIOs "can attract talent simply because of who they are and being visible."
An operations expert relieves the CIO of the daily burdens of down-and-dirty IT problems, but is a bit more tactical than a deputy CIO or other "second-in-command" managers. John Melott can parachute into a problem IT situation and in a matter of weeks, assess infrastructure and engineering, top to bottom, says Loomis 's Sadin.
When they met in 1983, Sadin recalls, Melott was night-shift lead computer operator at Murray Financial in Dallas (where he's still based). Melott came into Sadin's office to volunteer an explanation of what was wrong with Sadin's data center plans. For one, the walls were in the wrong place and cabling would be a bear. "That marked him as a comer, as far as I was concerned," says Sadin. "I listened to him and he was right."
Sadin recruited Melott to almost every company he worked at thereafter-five cities in four states. Sadin typically brings in Melott when a company has outgrown its IT department, and its staff and approach need changing. Melott's value lies in his breadth of experience. "He's certified in project management, certified in disaster recovery planning and boy, can he motivate people," Sadin says.
Melott is most proud of his ability to shield a CIO from daily IT upsets. "You just take care of them," he explains. "If you don't sift through the events and information, you can get your CIO bogged down in too much day-to-day stuff rather than focusing on strategy."
But you always, always tell your CIO about an IT problem that affects customers, Melott says. "When they don't know about something not working, that makes them look foolish and if they look foolish then all of IT looks foolish."