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Will We Find a Black CIO?

The Brief

Our client, a listed Top 40 retailer, was starting to think about a succession plan for their executive team. In particular, someone to take over as Chief Information Officer because the incumbent was considering early retirement. When we’re called in to advise on leadership succession, the central topic of discussion is transformation and diversity. And the big question that clients always ask is whether we believe they’ll be able to secure a top black executive for the role.

Mostly, we say yes. Because we know that the talent is out there. Yet the demand for Black leaders in South Africa is high, so a search like this is tough, regardless of the role.

Challenge and outcomes

The single C-Suite role that we have been mandated to fill the most often over the last two years is the position of CIO. The reason being that the technology landscape has shifted at the speed of light (think about this: the first ipad was launched only five years ago!), and most big corporations have moved a lot slower, particularly in the tech space. So there has been an ongoing need to source executives who can add value with tech innovation insights, who also have leadership kudos.

Our team took the brief, and braced themselves for the search of the year.

Which they accomplished admirably, making it look easy when they presented a shortlist of six (after approaching close to 170 individuals).

Our client had some great options, and ultimately appointed the best candidate for the role – a Black executive who has worked closely with the outgoing CIO in a well-executed succession plan.

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