What Makes a Turnaround CIO?

By David Raths
July 23, 2007

Companies “want to have their cake and eat it, too,” says Marc Lewis, CEO of Westport, Conn.-based Leadership Capital Group LLC, an executive search firm that has placed several turnaround CIOs in large corporations.

What does Lewis look for in a turnaround artist? Agility is key, he says. Candidates must be able to work in companies of various sizes across a range of industries and geographies. From the outside, he says, past success is the best indicator of future performance, so companies looking for a turnaround CIO “would like to see some notches on the belt, and preferably more than just one.”

From the inside, turnaround CIO Roger J. Jones says it’s important to be a quick study and to be decisive. “You have to make quick decisions and accept that you’re going to get some of them wrong,” he says.

It also takes a different career perspective. Jones and his peers “don’t have careers,” he says, “just a series of assignments with freelance consulting jobs in between.”