Outlook for the General Counsel Role

What You Need to Know Right Now to Level Up as a General Counsel

General CounselA General Counsel (GC) serves as a company’s main attorney and primary source of legal advice. Today’s General Counsel role has its roots in what Ben W. Heineman, Jr., calls the “inside counsel revolution” that began in the late 1970s. In his book, The Inside Counsel Revolution: Resolving the Partner-Guardian Tension, Heineman declares that “working with the CEO and other senior executives, the GC must forge an unbreakable bond between performance, integrity and risk on a set of foundational corporate issues: business strategy, culture, compliance, ethics, risk, governance, citizenship and organization.”

Demographically, in 2018, 28 percent of GCs were female and 14 percent minorities, reports Spencer Stuart’s annual study, The State of Today’s Fortune 500 General Counsel. Average GC age was 55. GCs stay on the job an average of six years. Sixty-two percent of Fortune 500 GCs gained their experience in-house, and 25 percent of externally hired GCs came straight from a law firm. Forty-eight percent of GCs have previous experience in the role, up from 39 percent in 2014.

The GC, typically reporting to the CEO, carries a broad scope of responsibility that may include antitrust issues, leasing agreements, patents, trademark and intellectual-property protection, due diligence regarding merger-and-acquisition activity, labor and employment law/compliance, and approving marketing communications. The GC may tackle legal crises, public-policy advocacy, tax issues, insurance and risk management, ethics and business compliance, real estate, human resources, and research and analysis into proposed laws and regulations.

Heineman cites as the fundamental challenge confronting inside lawyers their imperative to partner with the board of directors, the CEO, and business leaders while ultimately serving as guardian of the corporation. Indeed, Abbott Martin, VP of legal-team research at Gartner, cites five roles for the GC: Board Adviser, Corporate Executive, Chief Assurance Executive, Corporate Responsibility Officer, and Leader of the Legal Department.

Blogger Sterling Miller, an experienced GC, cites some of the downsides of the role – long hours, 24/7 phone availability, difficulties in balancing work and family life, a schedule tied to those of the CEO, CFO, and Board of Directors. Rewards, however, include serving on an executive team that makes decisions for the entire company, compensation, prestige, rewarding work, managing your own budget, implementing your vision for how a legal department should operate, and putting together and leading your own team, Miller notes.

Key Competencies for the General Counsel Role

The General Counsel role comes with one of the more specific sets of educational and credentialing requirements among C-Suite roles – a Juris Doctor degree and passage of at least one state’s bar exam. The competency that arguably gets mentioned more than others for GCs is sound judgment for the many decisions this role must make.

In your career-marketing communications, showcase the General Counsel competencies and characteristics on this list you possess:

  • Leadership and vision to oversee the legal function and manage people and processes.
  • Unquestioned integrity.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Broad legal subject-matter expertise; proven understanding of national and international labor, trademark, and copyright laws.
  • Alertness to laws that could affect the organization and industry.
  • Business savvy and experienced at transacting diverse types of business and handling issues, as well as possessing working knowledge of corporate finance.
  • Teamwork- and teambuilding-minded with an ability to advocate for protecting the company.

Level-Up Tips

Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the General Counsel role, expand their horizons in an existing General Counsel role, or even rise beyond the General Counsel role:

  • Be more than “just a lawyer.” Develop financial and business acumen. Writing for Korn Ferry, John Amer advises developing a business perspective by seeking out opportunities to learn more about the enterprise and the industry. Amer suggests “intentionally seeking out development assignments to build their business and financial knowledge and skills.” In a 2015 report entitled “More than Just a Lawyer…,” Korn Ferry mentions “serving on the internal legal team working on mergers and acquisitions” to establish the bridge between law and business.
  • Be proactive and visible about your own career development. “In-house lawyers must be intentional about their own career development,” the 2015 Korn Ferry report cautions. Sterling Miller concurs: “If you are interested in being general counsel you need to let the right folks know as it is highly unlikely that someone just ‘recognizes’ that you would be awesome in the role.” Make sure others, especially your boss, know of your ambitions; reach out to recruiters and search firms. Join cross-functional teams and seek out complex projects.
  • Figure out how to “get ’er done.” General Counsels tend to focus on what can’t legally be done. Miller suggests ambitious would-be general counsels could gain significant mileage if they more often said, “we can figure out a way to get that done” (legally, of course).
  • Don’t rule out a quest for CEO. In 2017, Harvard Business Review studied the 9 percent of 3,500 CEOs who had law degrees (not necessarily experience as GCs). One of the study’s authors, M. Todd Henderson, noted the “economically meaningful” result that “firms run by CEOs with legal expertise were associated with much less corporate litigation.” While clearly lawyers and GCs currently comprise only small proportion of CEOs, legal skills are increasingly recognized as valuable in the top C-Suite role.
  • Consult additional resources. The Internet provides far more level-up advice for GCs than can be covered here. Especially recommended:

General Counsel Trends to Watch

  • Today’s climate is filled with 11th-hour political and regulatory developments. In a 2019 article, E. Leigh Dance cites an atmosphere that extends “beyond sanctions and trade wars to restricting or enabling access to markets and affecting cross-border movement of people and data.”
  • The innovative General Counsel emerges. Dance also points to legal leaders who are “taking a fresh approach to advocacy at a time when company ethics and their positions on today’s issues affect performance and reputation.” Dance notes that this advocacy on vital stakeholder issues goes far beyond the legal scope.
  • Women are making inroads in the General Counsel ranks. SpencerStuart reported in 2018 that “the number of female Fortune 500 GCs appears to be increasing dramatically, as nearly half (46 percent) of the new class of GCs are women.” The company cites the increase as aligning with the roughly 50-50 gender breakdown seen in law schools for the past several years.
  • Ethnic diversity is also increasing, though too slowly in the opinions of some. While the SpencerStuart report noted that ethnically diverse Fortune 500 GCs (i.e., a general counsel listed as non-white) has increased over the last four years from 11 percent of the total in 2014 to 14 percent in 2018, more than 170 general counsel and corporate legal executives signed an open letter to big law firms in February 2019 expressing their disappointment that “many law firms continue to promote partner classes that in no way reflect the demographic composition of entering associate classes.”
Tagged with: , ,

Outlook for the Chief Sustainability Officer Role

What You Need to Know Right Now to Level Up as a Chief Sustainability Officer

SustainabilityThe Chief Sustainability Officer role emerged, as writer Gael O’Brien notes, in the last 20 years “as it became clear that companies were expected to address their impact and share responsibility in solving some of the world’s biggest problems.” In The Atlantic, Christine Bader asserts that the country’s first Chief Sustainability Officer was appointed in 2004, at DuPont.

Chief Sustainability Officers (this article uses the CSO acronym, even though it also applies to other C-Suite roles, such as Chief Security Officer) address such areas as energy-use reduction, resource conservation, recycling, pollution prevention, waste elimination, transportation efficiency, building design, human rights, and community development. In some companies, the sustainability element of the role is joined by safety, environment, corporate responsibility, or global corporate citizenship.

Sustainability recruiter Ellen Weinreb sees the CSO as not just the top corporate-social-responsibility professional for a company, but one of the top leaders of the company making key strategic decisions. Weinreb suggests that listing the CSO on the company’s 10-K, the SEC filing that identifies the corporation’s accountability to shareholders shows that “sustainability is owned at the top and integral to strategic decision-making.”

The number of C-Suite officers holding this CSO role is still relatively small. In her company’s 2018 GreenBiz State of the Profession, Weinreb reported only 44 CSOs at publicly traded companies as of the end of 2018, up from 29 in 2011. Gender parity is not far off, with the CSO population consisting of 55 percent men and 45 percent women.

Key Competencies for the Chief Sustainability Officer Role

The minimum educational requirement for a Chief Sustainability officer is a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business or an environmental science field, such as biology. Professional certification is available through several organizations, including the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP-Certified Sustainability Associate or Professional) and the Center for Sustainability and Excellence (Certified Sustainability Practitioner).

In your career-marketing communications, showcase the Chief Sustainability Officer competencies and characteristics on this list you possess:

  • Effective, succinct, and persuasive communicate skills. Tim Mohin, CEO of the Global Reporting Initiative, writes: “The ability to condense complicated topics into a relevant and cogent set of messages and present them skillfully can be the differentiator for your success.” More than one expert takes this skill a step further, suggesting that Chief Sustainability Officers also function as Chief Storytelling Officers.
  • Both business acumen and a passion for a sustainable environment, along with current expertise in sustainable business practices, energy production, consumption, and environmental impact.
  • Strategic ability to promote sustainable initiatives inside and outside the organization.
  • Creativity and problem-solving skills.
  • Systems thinking.
  • Collaborative skills.

Level-Up Tips

Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the Chief Sustainability Officer role, expand their horizons in an existing Chief Sustainability Officer role, or even rise beyond the Chief Sustainability Officer role:

  • Broaden your experience. “The issues under the sustainability umbrella keep growing,” notes Weinreb. In fact, as Tim Mohin cautions, “The breadth of this role can be both terrifying and exhilarating. The terrifying part is being asked to represent areas you know very little about. The exhilarating aspect is learning about all of these areas.” Simon Propper, CEO of Context, which helps companies with sustainability strategy, refers to this breadth of expertise as “multi-specialization.”
  • Take advantage of outsider status. While at least half of sustainability hires once were internal, Weinreb reports that “companies are looking outside their business for talent.” Today the percentage of outside hires is close to two-thirds. The reasons tie in with the need for broad knowledge and experience. You have the opportunity to sell your next employer on your wide-ranging, external perspective.
  • Gauge the top-down commitment to sustainability of your employer or prospective employer. Propper advises studying the company and the CEO. If you see “only token executive support” for sustainability, you will likely find it frustrating to spark transformation.
  • Show how sustainability adds value. You can make great inroads in this role if you can persuade others that sustainability drives value. Innovation and growth can be seen as the enemies of sustainability. You will stand out if you can help people understand how to integrate growth and sustainability (and how, in fact, sustainability can spark innovation, as seen in the Trends that follow).

Chief Sustainability Officer Trends to Watch

  • Strategy plays an increasing role in sustainability. Important and fundamental changes are occurring in the sustainability role, Coro Strandberg notes. Writing in a briefing paper, Next-Generation Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Jobs, Strandberg predicts, “the role shifts, job descriptions evolve, and skills change as organizations transition from an operational to a strategic sustainability focus.” One way to build strategic capacity in yourself is to develop expertise in scenario planning, advises Gilbert “Gib” Hedstrom, president of consulting firm Hedstrom Associates.
  • Simultaneously, sustainability plays an increasing role in business strategy. In his book, Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto, Adam Werbach asserts, “any strategy without sustainability at its core is just plain irresponsible ­– bad for business, bad for shareholders, bad for the environment.” To build that sustainable core, Propper observes, “the trend is to embed sustainability expertise in core functions such as sourcing, manufacturing, facilities, R&D, communications and marketing,” even suggesting that sustainability will be so integrated into business strategy that the CSO role will no longer be necessary.
  • The CSO title is frequently used to send a message. Strandberg points to greater use of the title Chief Sustainability Officer “to signal intent and commitment and facilitate strategic conversations.”
  • Environmental challenges fuel innovation and creativity. In fact, a study by Ram Nidumolu, C.K. Prahalad, and M.R. Rangaswami in Harvard Business Review labels sustainability the key driver of innovation. “Our research shows that sustainability is a mother lode of organizational and technological innovations that yield both bottom-line and top-line returns,” the authors reveal.
Tagged with: ,

Outlook for the CRO Role

What You Need to Know Right Now to Level Up as a Chief Revenue Officer

CRO OutlookChief Revenue Officer is one of the newest C-Suite roles, with articles first appearing about the role around 2012. CRO has its roots in Silicon Valley, spurred by the quest for revenue generation around digital products and services, especially the software-as-a-service (SaaS) sector. In 2018, Sean Callahan cited stats from the book The Future of Sales: Rise of the Strategic Seller that pointed to a 73 percent increase in Chief Revenue Officer titles on LinkedIn.

CRO is easily confused with, and often overlaps with, other executive functions connected with sales, marketing, the customer experience, finance, and revenue growth. Each organization tends to put its own spin on the role. The overlap is enough to motivate articles on the difference between CRO and CSO (Chief Sales Officer), the difference between CRO and VP of Sales and the difference between CRO and CFO. Chief Revenue Officers are sometimes referred to a Chief Growth Officers.

We can gain insight into the CRO role through two unique 2018 blog posts – one by CEO of a Silicon Valley startup and the other by the candidate he hired for the CRO role. CEO Eyal Lifshitz, who founded BlueVine, says wanted to hire a CRO “mainly because we were growing and our sales and account management operations were becoming more complex. We were also ramping up marketing spend.”

Eric Sager, the CRO hired, in turn describes BlueVine’s need for the role: “BlueVine created the chief revenue officer position to take on the challenge faced by many companies, especially startups, where marketing, business development, sales and account management usually operate in silos. This frequently leads to friction and misalignment because teams don’t all report to and work with the same executive leadership.”

Key Competencies for the CRO Role

“Technology,” “data,” and “customers” are words that frequently appear on lists of competencies for CROs, but perhaps the word that appears most frequently is “alignment,” meaning aligning all revenue-generating departments: marketing, sales and customer experience. The cost of misalignment? “Every company I’ve seen in the last 20 years is drastically overpaying for revenue,” writes Rick McPartlin in his blog The Revenue Game, “because there’s no common strategy or alignment.” Alignment clearly requires relationship-building skills, among others.

In your career-marketing communications, showcase these additional CRO competencies on this list you possess:

  • Sales, marketing, and CRM expertise
  • Data-driven approach
  • Tech savvy
  • Collaborative, a team-builder
  • Self-starter who can execute and implement change
  • High-energy
  • Customer-focused
  • Strategic
  • Able to balance short- and long-term goals

Level-Up Tips

Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CRO role, expand their horizons in an existing CHRO role, or even rise beyond the CRO role:

  • Seek out companies in which revenue-generation is growing complex. Look for organizations whose “revenue starts being driven by multiple channels supported by a marketing team that’s spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month,” Lifshitz advises.
  • Demonstrate that you are a closer. Sales will always remain at the core of revenue generation. “As a CRO,” writes Jim Herbold in VentureBeat, “no matter how broad or limited your reach may be in a company, you still need to close deals and build lasting and profitable customer relationships.”
  • Develop the mindset of a revenue strategist. Because some experts suggest that revenue-generation is rarely treated strategically, those who can apply strategy to revenue growth will stand out. “After the business plan,” asserts McPartlin, “most companies – 99% — just go out and hire salespeople and a marketing person and get to work. Surprisingly, there’s very little focus on revenue strategy.” McPartlin suggests that CROs and prospective CROs have a good grasp of what the revenue strategy looks like so they can execute the corporate strategy. In contrast to sales and marketing executives, the CRO “leads the strategy for generating more profitable revenue over the long term,” McPartlin says.
  • Be able to execute. CROs come from diverse backgrounds. Those with successful operations experience may have an advantage in executing short- and long-term wins for the organization. “It takes operational excellence to deliver results for your customers and drive revenue,” says Lisa Utzschneider, chief revenue officer at Yahoo.
Tagged with: ,

Outlook for the CHRO Role

What You Need to Know Right Now to Level Up as a Chief Human Resources Officer

CHRO OutlookThe perceived skills gap, the rise of human-resources technology, and the fierce competition to hire and retain the best talent are among the reasons the role of human resources in general, and specifically Chief Human Resource Officers (sometimes called Chief People Officers), have gained new importance.

In recent years, the CHRO role has taken on a greater strategic focus, as well as a mandate toward change management, organizational transformation, and innovation. “The key charge for the CHRO functionally,” notes a 2014 study by Heidrick & Struggles, “is to turn talent management into an instrument of business transformation that advances strategy, develops agile leaders, and coalesces in culture.”

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) also notes these aspects of the CHRO role: succession planning, talent management, organizational and performance management, training and development, and compensation. The CHRO also conveys HR needs and plans to the executive management team, shareholders, and the board of directors.

Agilon CHRO Rick Thompson perhaps summed up the role best when he said in an interview by employee Samantha Holland, “it comes down to, ‘Are we really giving our employees what they need to be successful?’”

Key Competencies for the CHRO Role

The list of competencies that industry experts prescribe for CHROs is quite lengthy compared to other C-Suite roles, perhaps reflecting the eclectic background that many gurus suggest for those in this role. Some, of course, apply to all C-Suite roles – business acumen, ethics, leadership, communication, strategic focus, as well as understanding of board governance and ability to negotiate effectively with the board.

In your career-marketing communications, showcase the CHRO competencies on this list that you possess:

  • HR expertise, including learning and development, compensation and procurement costs, benefits administration, critical evaluation, talent acquisition and market knowledge, compliance and legal knowledge, proficiency in executive compensation, and financial planning and forecasting. SHRM suggests 15 years of experience.
  • Change and transformation management, as well as innovation and disruption
  • Relationship management
  • Culture creation
  • Global and cultural awareness
  • Consultation
  • Commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Ability to read people
  • Comfort with ambiguity
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Ability to use data
  • Operational thinking

Level-Up Tips

Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CHRO role, expand their horizons in an existing CHRO role, or even rise beyond the CHRO role:

  • Beef up your HR education. A graduate business degree is almost always valuable. In addition, writing for Chief Executive, Fran Hawthorne cites two educational programs recommended by HR experts:
  • Plan your career with a mix of HR positions and roles in other parts of the business. Ram Charan, Dominic Barton, and Dennis Carey assert in the Harvard Business Review that would-be CHROs should progress up the ranks through line positions, “where they have to manage people and budgets.” The authors go on to suggest that “all leaders headed for top jobs should alternate between positions in HR and in the rest of the business. You will stand out because, as Gartner reports, “only 20 percent of Fortune 250 CHROs have working experience outside the HR function.”
  • Attain international experience. Global experience among CHROs is increasing. “CHROs need to have much more of a global perspective than their predecessors,” writes Flavio Kosminsky and Kathleen Cannon. Some experts suggest several years of experience abroad, while others assert that even a few months can be valuable.
  • Seek out HR-friendly organizations. “Look for CEOs who understand that it is people who add business value,” advises Barry Lawrence with the HR Certification Institute. “Get clear answers about the leadership team’s HR expectations,” he says.
  • Don’t rule out a quest for CEO. “With the heightened attention to talent and culture,” writes Heather Landy on Quartz at Work, “and the increasing interest in having those functions led by well-rounded executives, it isn’t difficult to imagine a day when the CHRO job becomes a natural pathway to the CEO role.” Similarly, Harvard Business Review reported in 2014 on a research study by Ellie Filler and Dave Ulrich that concluded: “Except for the COO (whose role and responsibilities often overlap with the CEO’s), the executive whose traits were most similar to those of the CEO was the CHRO.” Although the article focuses on why companies should consider CHROs for CEO roles, it also describes characteristics of CHROs who advance to the top role.

CHRO Trends to Watch

  • CHROs are less experienced in traditional HR functions than in the past. On the flip side, however, they are more experienced in diverse aspects of business, which is seen as adding greater value.
  • A CEO/CFO/CHRO triumvirate is seen as powerful. This prescription comes from the Harvard Business Review’s Charan, Barton, and Carey: “Just as the CFO helps the CEO lead the business by raising and allocating financial resources, the CHRO should help the CEO by building and assigning talent, especially key people, and working to unleash the organization’s energy. Julia Modise, writing in HR Future, concurs: “The CHRO is seen as a strategic partner to the CEO and CFO.”
  • The CHRO role appears to be woman-friendly. More than half (57 percent) of Fortune 200 Chief Human Resources Officers are female, reports a 2017 study by The Talent Strategy Group.
  • Human Resources is gaining greater respect. In 2015, Charan, Barton, and Carey reported on research by McKinsey and the Conference Board that “consistently finds that CEOs worldwide see human capital as a top challenge, and they rank HR as only the eighth or ninth most important function in a company.” By the end of 2018, “the CHRO has progressed from fighting for a seat at the table to playing a key role in the executive team,” writes Modise.
Tagged with: ,

Outlook for the CXO Role

What You Need to Know Right Now to Level Up as a Chief Experience Officer

Customer experienceThe executive who oversees an organization’s customer experience may have one of many titles – Chief Client (or Customer) Officer, Executive Vice President of Customer Experience, Customer Experience Manager, Chief Marketing Officer, and more whimsical titles, such as Director of First Impressions, Creator of Opportunities, Chief Amazement Officer, and Happiness Advocate. This article refers to Chief Experience Officer, the common acronym for which is CXO. The role seems especially prevalent in the healthcare industry, in which it deals with the patient experience.

A Chief Experience Officer ensures a consistent and seamless end-to-end customer experience. The CXO identifies discrepancies between customer expectations and the actual experience, striving to eliminate those discrepancies.

A research study from the Experience Innovation Network, a part of Vocera, revealed that CXOs prioritize …

  • Experience improvement
  • Experience strategy
  • Compliments and complaints
  • Experience analysis
  • Friends, family, and VIPs
  • Quality/performance improvement

Perhaps surprisingly, many CXOs also scrutinize and cultivate the internal customer – the employee – based on the concept of what executive Frédéric Durand calls the “reciprocal relationship between the employee journey and the experience delivered to the customer.” Engaged employees are seen as key to providing optimal customer experiences.

Key Competencies for the CXO Role

The CXO is charged with delivering exceptional experiences that generate positive emotions and convenience for the customer.

In your career-marketing communications, showcase the competencies on this list you possess:

  • Obsessive customer-centrism and knowledge aimed at boosting customer loyalty, retention, and satisfaction.
  • Collaboration skills cultivated within a relationship-based culture.
  • Openness to customer feedback.
  • Customer advocacy.
  • The will to promote customer-centric culture internally.
  • Measurement and analytics skills for the components and outcomes of customer experience.
  • Creativity to introduce experience-improvement initiatives.
  • Strategy, leadership, and governance skills.

Level-Up Tips

A significant component of the CXO’s role is transformation to an experience-based customer-centric culture that goes well beyond customer service. Showing that you understand the need for this transformation and can successfully lead change will go a long way toward boosting your CXO journey.

Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CXO role, expand their horizons in an existing CXO role, or even rise beyond the CXO role:

  • Know that the deliverable should be more than just good customer service. In “The Roles of the Chief Experience Officer” in the American Management Association’s journal, AMA Quarterly, Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore note that experiences must be memorable. “CXOs must work to turn mundane interactions into engaging encounters so that customers cannot help but remember them—and tell others about the experiences they had,” the authors assert.
  • Deliver personalized customer experience. Pine and Gilmore suggest that “if you do not reach inside of people and engage their hearts and/or minds, then you have not offered a distinctive experience.”
  • Be an astute listener. Julie Larson, who left Microsoft in 2018 after a quarter of a century to become CXO at Qualtrics, has spent her career listening to customers. “The job,” Larson says, “starts with listening deeply to customers, employees, product users and the market’s response to the brand. All good leaders listen in their functional areas — some facing internally and some facing externally to stakeholders like Wall Street analysts. But in the C-suite, the role of the CXO is to listen to a variety of stakeholders, articulate their insights, and drive change at the highest level by asking the simple question: ‘What are we going to do about what we’ve heard?’”
  • Understand the five roles CXOs need to succeed: These roles, developed by Pine and Gilmore, include Catalyst, Designer, Orchestrator, Champion, and Guide. The Catalyst sparks energy, excitement, and action company-wide. The Designer forms the raw material of company capabilities into experience offerings. The Orchestrator aligns operational elements into a holistic theme that delights customers. The Champion advocates for the needs, wants, and desires of customers and ensures the company’s offerings create value on behalf of each customer. The Guide drives the organization’s transformation into a premier customer-experience organization.

CXO Trends to Watch

  • Robotic process automation opens up more time for the human touch. As Blake Morgan notes in Forbes, “when machines control the mundane tasks, humans have more time to dedicate to the uniquely human tasks, like strategy, creativity, innovation, problem solving, connecting with customers and developing a strong customer experience.”
  • The customer-experience role transcends the CXO: During a visit to Amazon, Morgan noticed “the entire company has a customer-experience mindset.” At customer-centric companies, all employees are tapped into how their work impacts customers. They are also empowered to help resolve customer issues.
  • Voice of the Customer takes center stage: “Voice of the Customer (VoC),” defined as your customer’s feedback about their experiences with and expectations for your products or services, focuses on customer needs, expectations, understandings, and product improvement. Writing in CSM: The Magazine for Customer Service Managers & Professionals, Stuart Dorman reveals that organizations are “leveraging their Voice of the Customer data to actually shape customer journeys and design experiences rather than just react to issues as they surface.”
Tagged with:

Outlook for the CInO Role

What You Need to Know Right Now to Level Up as a Chief Innovation Officer

InnovationChief Innovation Officer (the most common acronym is CInO) is one of the newer C-suite roles, and one that often overlaps with other executive roles. Innovation has often been the purview of the Chief Information Officer, but has evolved in many cases to a distinct role. In a nutshell, CInOs envision and communicate the future of their organizations.

To explain the role’s emergence, experts point to globalization and an information explosion that leads to endless consumer choices and a brutally competitive landscape. “To ensure they stay ahead of the game, businesses must be constantly innovating,” notes Ben Rossi in Information Age. Rossi characterizes the CInO role as “an executive who links the traditional CEO, CFO, and CIO roles.” Author Jag Randhawa also cites “a growing interest in innovation in the service industries, as well as in public welfare entities, including government and non-profit organizations.” Many organizations identify innovation as one of their top priorities.

A 2017 study in the journal Health Management, Policy & Innovation of innovation leaders in large healthcare-systems provides an overview of the role. Of the 40 largest systems in the study, 32 had a senior innovation leader. The study reported that the structure and function of the chief innovation officer role is diverse across systems, with 52 percent reporting a strategic focus, 24 percent operational, and 24 percent financial. The researchers identified four approaches to managing innovation:

  • an “internal consulting group” that educated, advised, and partnered around continuous process improvement (36 percent);
  • an incubator that worked to grow and scale projects (28 percent);
  • a group that imported and scaled established technology (12 percent);
  • a venture fund that invested externally and sometimes internally (24 percent).

The median budget under the control of the chief innovation officer was $3.5 million.

Key Competencies for the CInO Role

The CInO must be not only the visionary of the organization, but also a highly credible executive who attains buy-in for innovation. “A successful Chief Innovation Officer is a master of influence,” observes Bill Poston in his The Chief Innovation Officer blog. The role requires subject-matter expertise in the organization itself, technology, finance, business, operations, strategy, law, and internal and external politics, as well as the ability to communicate persuasively.

In your career-marketing communications, showcase the competencies on this list you possess:

  • Entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Ability to support best practices throughout business units toward breakthrough product and service initiatives that improve and deliver business results.
  • Astutueness to protect promising projects, oversee seed funding, and invest in initiatives and assets that aren’t guaranteed to succeed.
  • Collaborative skills to foster idea-generation and execution among workforce.
  • Competence in measuring and analyzing innovation results.
  • Commitment to customers.
  • Creativity and flexibility.
  • Change-leadership skills.
  • Not risk averse
  • Analytical skills to interpret trends and identify disruptive threats and opportunities.
  • Commitment to cultivating innovation talent, developing innovation roles and career paths, and encouraging a culture that embraces innovation.

Level-Up Tips

As Rossi asserts, it’s quite possible the CInO role can lead right to top: “In the future, the new crop of CInOs are most likely to be the CEOs in waiting, able to apply their multiple skills and broad knowledge to business situations that arise. This is especially true for non-Tech companies.”

Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CInO role, expand their horizons in an existing CInO role, or even rise beyond the CInO role:

  • To become a successful CInO, combine branding, innovation, leadership, management, persistence, and strategy. That’s the advice of Ade McCormack, who suggests in his blog a step-by-step process in which the executive aligns innovation with user expectations, identifies innovative staff, cultivates a culture of innovation, rewards staff for innovative activity, builds the brand by promoting innovative successes, strategizes attaining the most important performance indicators, and repeats the process over and over.
  • Start a grassroots innovation revolution in your organization. So advises Randhawa, who suggests creating within your current role “a bottom-up innovation program in which participants share ideas to improve existing products and services.” Randhawa asserts that having a program like this on your resume can open up the path to becoming a CInO.
  • Build your skills. Many CInOs hold MBA degrees. While little evidence exists that a certification in innovation management will boost your career, you could gain skills and knowledge through pursuing the Certified Management of Innovation–Chief Innovation Officer designation offered by the International Association of Innovation Professionals (https://www.iaoip.org/page/Certification).
  • Have the right mindset. In a Forbes article describing what makes a CInO successful, Mike Maddock describes several innovation mindsets, noting that only two of them –the Maverick and the Orchestrator – lead to success. Mavericks, he says, are aggressively committed to the future and tend to make people uncomfortable to the point that the organization breaks new ground. The Orchestrator prepares and empowers the team for an innovative future.
  • Ensure your role is set up for success. The Health Management, Policy & Innovation study mentioned earlier identified three key parameters of innovation theory that can set up the CInO role for success:
    • separation of the innovation unit into an entity that exists outside of the ongoing organization
    • direct-line communication with the CEO and the board of directors
    • adequate resources.

CInO Trends to Watch

  • Bottom-up idea management grows in importance. Companies increasingly realize that since employees work most closely with customers, they are a prime source for innovation.
  • Creativity takes center stage: Creativity has always been critical to innovation, but today is becoming recognized as a vital business skill. Some experts suggest integrating creative tasks for CInOs and other innovators to enhance this attribute.
  • The concept of “innovation communities” catches fire: These communities can be internal, external or mixed and can include such diverse entities as “former interns, service providers and suppliers, customers and experts for future technologies and digitization,” according to Innolytics. These communities bring together creative and motivated minds with various perspectives to generate myriad ideas and engage in co-creation.
Tagged with:

2019 Outlook for the CSO/CISO Role

What You Need to Know this Year to Level Up as a Chief (Information) Security Officer

CISOLike most C-Suite functions, the CSO role is evolving, having first appeared as the position overseeing security within the information-technology function. CSO is used interchangeably with Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), although writer Josh Fruhlinger asserts that “the CISO title is becoming more prevalent for leaders with an exclusive information-security focus.” A few CSOs also oversee employee and facility physical security, though a more typical title for such a role is Vice President or Director of Corporate Security.

CSOs/CISOs emerge from a variety of backgrounds, including government, the corporate world, and startups. Diverse educational backgrounds also are common in the field; however, experts have suggested that increasingly, organizations will require master’s degrees in cybersecurity for CSOs/CISOs. This is a growth position given the constant threat of cyberattacks.

Writing for Forbes, Ted Schlein summarizes the role: “The CSO must be technically adept, with an intuitive understanding of a company’s systems, how hackers might penetrate them, and how to defend against attacks. And because no company, no matter how invested it is in cybersecurity, is fully immune from cyber threats, the CSO must also understand how to detect, contain, and remediate the attacks that do occur.”

Key Competencies for the 2019 CSO Role

In your career-marketing communications, showcase the competencies on this list you possess:

  • Collaborative skills and the ability to build consensus among stakeholders.
  • Technical aptitude with intuitive understanding of a wide range of relevant systems, as well as techniques hackers might use to infiltrate them and ways to defend against attacks.
  • Extensive ability to plan, design, develop, test, implement, and oversee IT security systems, including security-monitoring and detection tools, and be able to identify, contain, and recover from cyberattacks.
  • Strong leadership, negotiation, and persuasive ability.
  • Technical curiosity and willingness to learn from mistakes.

Level-Up Tips

CSOs/CISOs typically offer about 7-8 years of experience in information security, strong leadership skills, the ability to communicate to a non-technical staff, and at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science. They can enhance their marketability with an advanced degree specializing in information security or information assurance. Look for academic programs offered by universities recognized by the National Security Agency. Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CSO/CISO role, expand their horizons in an existing CSO/CISO role, or even rise beyond the CSO/CISO role:

  • Build relationships and network. In an excellent article about succeeding as a CSO/CISO, Stefan Sulistyo suggests that these roles and departments are particularly helpful to form bonds with: IT manager/CIO; data protection; law department; corporate communications and PR office; customer service; internal audit; personnel management/human resources; facility management (or physical-safety department); and executive assistant. Fruhlinger observes it’s also worthwhile to cultivate contacts among industry vendors, the intelligence community, and academia.
  • Join a professional organization. Experts in the field suggest Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) and International Security Management Association (ISMA) to provide further networking opportunities.
  • Earn a CISSP (Certification Information System Security Professional) certification or GIAC Information Security Professional certification through Global Information Assurance.
  • Demonstrate your alignment with the business and the organization’s goals. One way to understand that alignment is to identify a mentor who can guide the CSO/CISO in senior management’s expectations. Even better is if this mentor champions the CSO/CISO, asserts Lynn Mattice of risk-management consultancy firm Mattice and Associates and Jerry Brennan of security-executive search firm SMR Group.
  • Look to fill gaps. Since CSOs/CISOs come from a variety of backgrounds, leverage yours in an organization that especially needs it. Whether your background is as an engineer/architect, or manager of security professionals, or you offer a different set of qualifications, chances are you can find a niche as a CSO/CISO, especially because many organizations still don’t have CSOs/CISOs.

CSO/CISO Trends to Watch in 2019

  • The use of ransomware will decline but still be a problem. Organizations are now more alert than in the past to malicious apps intended to block access until the victim pays a ransom, and they have implemented security measures.
  • One ray of sunshine is the positive security environment created as businesses continue their significant migration of data to the cloud in 2019: In addition, cloud-delivered security solutions will be a priority for CSOs/CISOs.
  • Cybersecurity alone will not be enough to secure the most sensitive data or privacy. As Rina Shainski, co-founder and chairwoman of Duality Technologies, puts it: “Data must be protected and enforced by technology itself, not just by cyber or regulation. The very technology compromising our privacy must itself be leveraged to bring real privacy to this data-driven age.”
  • We can anticipate continued nation-state attacks on and surveillance of individuals: State-sponsored threats and high-level hackers continue to relentlessly troll access to the critical infrastructure of nations worldwide.
Tagged with: ,

2019 Outlook for the CIO Role

What You Need to Know this Year to Level Up as a Chief Information Officer

CIOIn the past, regard and expectations for CIOs have been a bit underwhelming, with some even joking that CIO stands for “Career Is Over.” Those expectations are changing, however. Strategic thinking – spotting new revenue opportunities and implementing operational innovations – now have become a far more valued weapon in the CIO’s arsenal than in the past. In fact, nearly two-thirds of CIOs say that creating new revenue-generating initiatives is among their job responsibilities, notes the 2019 State of the CIO report from CIO magazine. It’s all about harnessing technology to create business value.

As with virtually all C-suite roles, the customer has taken on increasing importance. To effectively generate revenue, CIOs must be more closely in touch with customer needs.

In an article about CIO 2019 trends, Naomi Eide writes, “unlike in years past, CIOs are making headway in the C-suite, influencing technology and business strategy as the importance of IT is understood. As technology’s role is increasing, the role of the CIO is maturing.” Eide cites a greater awareness of “technology’s ability to make business bottom-line goals possible.”

The CIO plots out better, faster routes to advancing the business by leveraging existing data and sourcing new information. The executive in this role envisions the digital enterprise’s future. The CIO also oversees security and resilience, leverages ecosystems, and designs the IT operating model.

The pressure is on for CIOs, however, because of what Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, describes as “the dramatic effect technology is having on key areas like personal health, insurance, and agriculture.” The rapidly changing nature of technology makes CIO the “toughest corporate job in America right now” in Hurd’s view.

Key Competencies for the 2019 CIO Role

As with all C-Suite roles, leadership, communication, and influencing skills are identified as indispensable to success. The 2019 State of the CIO report reveals that 78 percent of CIOs report that they are communicating with the Board of Directors more than ever before, up from 67 percent in 2018. And influence is cited by Natalie Whittlesey, CIO practice director at Harvey Nash UK, as “the key skill an IT leader will need to display.”

In your career-marketing communications, showcase the following competencies that you possess:

  • Fusing business and technology strategy: Strategic thinking, planning, and influencing business-growth objectives
  • Ability to accomplish business transformation through digital transformation. In the 2019 State of the CIO report, 88 percent of CIO respondents said they are more involved in leading digital transformation initiatives compared to their business counterparts.
  • Customer focus, understanding, and engagement
  • Storytelling; ability to make the complex simple
  • Innovation
  • Forward-thinking
  • Network, alliance, and relationship building
  • Interpersonal awareness
  • Developing others
  • Results focus
  • Software-development management
  • Project management
  • Change management
  • Ability to drive agility
  • Business and financial acumen (Many CIOs today attain an MBA)

Level-Up Tips

Writing in Forbes, Peter High observes that “not long ago, it may have seemed absurd to think of the CIO as an important stop on the way to the top role in the company.” But High goes on to cite “a growing cadre of former CIOs who have been promoted or hired into positions that continue to take advantage of their technical acumen, but provide them with expanded purviews.” Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CIO role, expand their horizons in an existing CIO role, or even rise beyond the CIO role:

  • Become super-savvy in business. Those who’ve advanced beyond the CIO role tend to have an MBA or advanced degree in a business discipline and may have previously worked in other business disciplines, High reports, leading them to place business value above technology. Successful CIO aspirants to other roles also often have consulting backgrounds.
  • Network and build relationships. In a CIO report from EY, networking and building relationships topped the list of the list of things that CIOs should do to gain promotion.
  • Think of your role as part R&D on behalf of the company. This approach means listening to and understanding the customer and the customer’s needs. With the customer in mind, research is more focused on solutions than the technology itself.
  • Be aware of and build on what makes you marketable as a CEO. Although Blair Shiver notes in CIO magazine no “significant trend of CIOs transitioning into CEO roles,” she states that “it’s absolutely undeniable that the people- and process-management skills developed within an IT leadership position are vital for driving growth across entire organizations.” It’s easy to speculate that as CIOs continue to build their portfolios of business skills, they will be considered for CEO positions.

CIO Trends to Watch in 2019

  • Cybersecurity: CIOs will leverage new methods of risk mitigation. Those in the CIO role will be looking beyond traditional approaches to cybersecurity. In addition, 72 percent of respondents in CIO Tech Poll: Tech Priorities 2019 said they were spending more on cybersecurity in 2019.
  • Mastery of technologies at the forefront is required of CIOs: These include edge-to-cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), Hybrid and Multi-Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), as well as Blockchain.
  • Increasing pressure to create an innovation environment will challenge CIOs: Citing Natalie Whittlesey, Angelica Mari writes in Computer Weekly that CIOs need to show “evidence of bringing in innovation that’s had a direct impact on a business, evidence of handling a complex stakeholder base often spanning geographical boundaries and multiple brands, as well as being commercially minded – which increases ability to talk business to the board.”
  • Digital transformation is a top business priority: “Any way you look at it, the largest growth opportunities that most organizations can access now is to better seize the white space in … rapidly expanding digital markets,” writes Dion Hinchcliffe on ZDNet.
Tagged with:

WINNER: Toast of the Resume Industry Awards

Each year, CDI (Career Directors International) hosts the resume writing industry’s most prestigious Toast of the Resume Industry™ (TORI) resume writing competition; an international competition in which contestants submit their best work in a category.

It was an honor to be selected as 2nd place winner for Best Information Technology Resume. And I was equally elated to have been nominated for Best Accounting & Finance Resume.

According to CDI President, Laura DeCarlo, “The Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) award winners represent the epitome of excellence for job seekers to stand out from the competition for the 60-80% of all jobs that are found through networking and the hidden job market. Job seekers at any level who want to know their resume is written with the marketing power and precision to help them come out on top for qualifying positions need look no further than a TORI winner.

These individuals are the best of the best in their overall strategy of visual formatting and design, personal marketing, understanding of employer/position requirements, and use of powerful language. In a world where visual presentation has become an art open to everyone with smart phone apps, to win a TORI is the ultimate stamp of approval a resume writer could attain.”

Winners are selected by a blind panel of global industry experts. Nominees are selected followed by first, second, and third place winners in each category.

I proudly represent the ‘best of the best’ in my industry and share the accolades with my esteemed colleagues.

2019 Outlook for the CMO Role

What You Need to Know this Year to Level Up as a Chief Marketing Officer

CMO“Growth” is the watchword for today’s CMOs. With some experts characterizing CMOs as “Chief Growth Officers,” the growth imperative is increasingly expected of this role. Jean-Baptiste Coumau, Tom French, and Laura LaBerge note in the Harvard Business Review that to get ahead of the competition, “CMOs must deliver above-market growth” by facilitating outstanding customer experience and organizational alignment.

Traditional aspects of the CMO role include brand management, marketing communications, sales management, market research, marketing training, product development, distribution channel management, pricing, customer service, strategic planning, and data analysis. In many cases, we can now add for the contemporary CMO customer experience, data strategy, change management across the business, information technology (with CMO and CIO often closely collaborating), marketing strategy, storytelling, and driving innovation. Today’s CMO can be seen as voicing the customer perspective to the rest of the C-Suite and the board.

Brand-building is still counted as a top priority for CMOs; this function is increasingly impacted by storytelling, emotion, and the customer experience.

Perhaps surprisingly, the CMO role is far from universal in corporations, and tenure of incumbents in the position tends to be shorter than for other C-Suite roles.

Key Competencies for the 2019 CMO Role

Here are the skills experts say are key to the evolving CMO role. In your career-marketing communications, showcase the competencies on this list you possess:

  • Strategic thinking
  • Ability to drive organizational alignment to deliver better customer experiences
  • Data-driven decision-making
  • Evangelist for emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Cross-functional leadership
  • Ability to foster agility
  • Storytelling
  • Communication
  • Vision
  • Innovation
  • Product understanding
  • Customer focus

Level-Up Tips

A few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CMO role, expand their horizons in an existing CMO role, or even rise beyond the CMO role:

  • Deploy full C-Suite strategic thinking. Matthew Lieberman refers to a “multihyphenate role” – CMO-CEO-CFO – to describe the kind of full-organization integration necessary to excel as a CMO.
  • Have a command of the best technology to yield the right data. Writing for Chief Marketer, Patty Odell suggests emphasizing the “four forces underlying consumer technology adoption — tools, coordination, conversation, and emotion” to refine the approach to engaging customers.
  • Get experience working on an integrated team. McKinsey found upon surveying 200+ CMOs and senior-marketing executives that marketers termed as “integrators” –those who have merged data and creativity – increase their revenues at twice the average rate of S&P 500 companies. The ability to build bridges across functions is a competitive advantage. “In the future,” writes blogger Martin Roll, “the CMO will emerge as the strategic connection between the corporate boardroom, the top management team, the CEO, and the customer.”
  • It’s OK to aspire to be CEO. While CMOs were once dismissed as CEO material since they were not directly accountable for profitability, the customer focus of this role has propelled it to CEO-worthy status. David Shrank of Deloitte Consulting notes that “the role of the CMO has changed dramatically in recent years, and this new breed of CMO is being shortlisted for the top spot … as the CMO continues to own the customer across all channels – as well as the data that drive the business – the CMO quickly becomes a logical person to own the company’s growth agenda in the CEO role.” In one study, more than half of surveyed executives said their CMO could eventually become CEO.

For inspiring stories of marketers’ varied career paths to CMO, see articles in MarketPro and Mashable.

CMO Trends to Watch in 2019

  • Mass Data Fragmentation is a challenge for marketers: CMOs must contend with unstructured data that is currently widely scattered, resulting in an incomplete picture. These leaders seek a more holistic data scenario.
  • Customer acquisition remains the No. 1 objective: The best CMOs are relentlessly dedicated to understanding the customer and push their organizations toward customer-centricity. The Three E’s – Empathy, Emotion, and Experience – will increasingly inform marketing to customers, as will personalization. Writing for Forbes, Jenny Rooney cites “near-obsessive focus on their customers … engaging with them in a fully omnichannel world and with a unique respect and allegiance.” Some experts suggest a CMO’s role should be Chief Experience Officer.
  • The Holy Grail for CMOs is to marry data with creativity: This “right-brain/left-brain challenge,” as Alan Schulman calls it in Adweek, is a unique CMO imperative within the C-Suite.
  • Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, will impact CMOs and help solve data problems: Increasing use of these technologies enables CMOs to extract optimal value and insights from their data.


As a career coach, I’ve helped numerous executives transition into more fulfilling careers. Schedule a call with Beverly today for a complimentary discussion https://www.harveycareers.com/discussion.

Beverly Harvey
Executive Career Coach
Forbes Coaches Council Member
Credentialed Career Manager
Certified Career Management Coach


Tagged with: ,