More than one in ten ASX-listed CEOs have a background in technology yet none have previously been a CIO according to new research from executive recruiter Robert Half. 

The research, 2019 CEO Tracker examines the background of the CEOs of the ASX 200. According to this study those CEOs with technology backgrounds increased from 8 per cent in 2018 to 11 per cent this year. 

Robert Half said this increase is reflective of the growing pressure companies are facing to source and hire the right technical expertise and leadership to facilitate digital transformation and remain competitive. 

In comparison, 43 per cent of the ASX 200 CEOs have a background in finance with a 3 per cent increase in the number of CEOs who served as a CFO prior to taking the top job.

The number of CEOs who have already served as a CEO before their current role remained stable at 26 per cent.

There is a growing trend of chief executives being hired from outside the company with 39 per cent of the CEOs from the largest ASX companies were recruited from outside the business, a 4 per cent increase from the previous year. 

The report suggests the decline in internal promotions indicates organisations may be lacking skilled tech leaders internally or have a talent pipeline that is not aligned with future business needs.

David Jones, senior managing director, Robert Half

According to the research, 48 per cent of the new CEOs have been selected from outside their company, including all new female appointments. 

Gender diversity among the listed CEOs is remaining the same – 94 per cent of CEOs are men and only four of the 43 newly appointed CEOs were women. 

David Jones, senior managing director, Robert Half said, “Companies need to ensure they are continuing to push for greater diversity and a variety of perspectives at all organisational levels. 

“This is key to building innovative and motivated workforces that attract and retain top talent in a skills-short market. Moving forward, companies must balance hiring for ‘culture fit’ with ‘culture add’, in order to facilitate a diverse cohort that is capable of achieving lasting change.”

He said certain skills and experiences are fundamental to what it takes to become a CEO such as proven business acumen, strategic thinking and interpersonal skills.

“Aside from these skills, education, loyalty, cross border experience and financial literacy are consistent features when looking at the background of Australia’s top CEOs. It’s likely that demand for technology expertise will also continue to grow. 

“Leaders who display these skills are not only well positioned to drive bottom line success but can demonstrate they are extremely adaptable and capable of leading diverse teams and innovative strategies during changing times.”

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