Good Public Profile or Professional Schmoozer?

Boyden UK CIO Practice

The Diary of an Executive Search CIO Head Hunter

London 13/12/2010
Cathy Holley, Partner and Co-Head of the CIO Practice

Good Public Profile or Professional Schmoozer?

Have you ever noticed when you are at a conference that some CIO faces appear at every single one you go to, either attending or speaking? Have you ever wondered if they have a proper job or whether they are simply professional conference-goers? Finding the right balance between promoting yourself, networking and actually doing your day job isn’t that easy.

Once upon a time, it was assumed that it was enough to be good at your job, to be spotted and  promoted or headhunted. Today, CIOs are much more au fait with the concept of personal branding. Heavy-hitter CIOs are often courted to speak at conferences, usually to share how they’ve transformed their company or, at least, the IT function and there is no doubt that those with a great story to tell increase the strength of their own and their company’s brand for which you are, of course, an ambassador. If you don’t have a good story to tell or if you are never approached to speak then you must ask yourself why not? These conferences also provide an opportunity to network, meet peers and hear about best (and next) practice. However, there are some CIOs who would turn up at the opening of a paper bag and this simply makes them look desperate and leads one to doubt their professional effectiveness.

Good personal branding pivots on having something fabulous and current to say: harping on about last year’s project may wear thin. Nor is it wise to be taking credit for an initiative led by one of your team. Far better to encourage him/her take centre stage, whilst you bask in reflected glory, impressing everyone by your ability to attract and nurture outstanding talent into your team (for me, one of the key criteria for a world-class CIO).

CEO’s are usually pretty outward-looking so CIOs need constantly to broaden their external perspectives; sandwiches at your desk whilst ploughing through emails simply won’t do. Spend more time with peers on the Exec, going along to some of their external meetings (City/regulators/shareholders/bank/JV partners/key suppliers). Take the opportunity to strengthen your relationship whilst you’re en route. Even better, dazzle them with your ability to add value at a commercial level and improve perception of IT in general. Time well spent, I think.

Cathy Holley; Partner and Co-Head
CIO Practice
Boyden UK

About Boyden World Corporation

Boyden is a global leader in the executive search industry with more than 70 offices in over 40 countries. Founded in 1946, Boyden specialises in high level executive search, Interim Management and Human Capital consulting across a broad spectrum of industries. For further information, visit the firm’s global website at or the UK website at