Forbes CIO-plus Series: Matt Aiello on recruiting for the CIO-plus role

February 11, 2013
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As a Partner in the CIO/CTO practice for the executive placement firm Heidrick & Struggles, Matt Aiello has keen insight into the growing trend of CIO’s adopting “plus” responsibilities.

by Peter High, published on


Of the CIO-pluses that have been profiled thus far, none were hired into their roles as CIO-pluses.  Eight of the ten were CIOs first, and then added additional responsibilities.  It made me curious whether there are companies that are starting to think about CIO-pluses as they embark on the hiring process. I reached out to Matt Aiello for the answer.  Matt is a partner in the CIO/CTO practice at Heidrick & Struggles.   As a CIO/CTO recruiter, he has placed more than seventy IT executives into companies that span most industries.  From his perch, he sees a rising appetite for CIOs to be hired with the plus.  He explains this in my interview with him herein.

(This is the eleventh piece in the CIO-plus series. To read the prior ten interviews with the CIO-pluses from Waste Management, McKesson, Merck, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Ameristar Casinos, Owens Corning, Marsh & McLennan, ADP, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and the San Francisco Giants, please click this link. To receive notice about future interviews in the series with CIO-pluses of  Walgreens, P&G and others, please click visit the column’s page. in the weeks to come.)

Peter High:
How long has the notion of the “CIO-plus” role been on your radar?

Matt Aiello:
In the eight years I’ve been recruiting top technology officers, in some way shape or form the notion has always been around, but we’ve seen a dramatic increase in these sorts of roles in the past two to three years.

Peter High:
What has been the driver of this increase in demand for these roles in the past two to three years?

Matt Aiello:
I think it is driven by several factors.  First, taking a page from Charlie Feld, the CIO role itself is still immature and still evolving; it has to be the most amorphous/contextual role on any management team.  Second, technology is moving so fast and becoming ubiquitous and accessible by organizations outside the CIO’s purview; this requires the CIO to engage rapidly across the enterprise.  Third, the best organizations are always transforming, driving cost out and/or revenue up, and any significant transformation requires that the CIO be in the middle of business processes again outside their normal domains.

Additional topics covered in the article include:

  • Most of the cases that I know of, and that have been profiled in the Technovation column have been people who grew into additional roles after being “just” the CIO.  Do you see much of a trend toward companies hiring people to wear the CIO plus another role from the get-go?
  • What has changed in the past six to nine months that has led to the increased demand?  Is it recognition of the value that other companies have garnered through these dual roles, or is it some new realization internally on average?
  • What “pluses” do you see as the most logical combination, and why?
  • You place CIOs across most industries.  Does the answer to your prior question change if it is one industry or another, or if it were, say, a B2B as opposed to a B2C?
  • If a CIO you placed indicated to you that he/she was interested in acquiring other responsibilities at their new firm, what advice would you offer them?
  • What skillset or experiences should a CIO acquire in order to prove they are worthy of the “plus”?
  • Now that there are so many prominent CIO-pluses, do you anticipate more companies requesting that someone take on the exact same dual or multi-roles that they had in their old firms?
  • Lastly, if someone has a CIO-plus role, they may be candidates for a larger role such as COO or CEO, perhaps.  In what cases would you advise a CIO-plus to move to a new organization and only be the CIO, which might be perceived as a step-back in some ways?

To read the full article, please visit

To explore other CIO-plus Series articles, please click here.

To explore the Technovation Column library, please click here.

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