CIO Connect – Recruiting and retaining skilled talent

CIO Connect is an informal national online forum to enable us to have face-to-face conversations in real time and is based on leveraging your trusted network of CIOCAN peers where you can openly and confidently talk about issues that you are facing and also the solutions and innovations that can be shared with all of us. It is different than other sessions as no one is trying to sell you anything and everyone is focused on creating a valuable experience worthy of your time investment.

As these sessions are virtual round tables, the resulting discussions are informal and unstructured. The topics that are suggested are general guidelines. We seek to have active participation from all attendees. The volunteer Moderators record some high level notes of the themes discussed, but at all times protect the privacy of the members by not attributing actual quotes to any of the participants. In addition, these sessions are not recorded.

The most recent CIO Connect session was held on September 16th. It was a smaller group with about 10 members from across Canada participating in the session. The discussion topic for this session centred on the challenges related to recruiting and retention of skilled resources and the sharing of best practices.

At a high level, the summary discussion from that session was as follows:

  • What is the biggest challenge in recruiting and retaining skilled resources?
  • The market is moving very fast and unless you react quickly you will lose out on good candidates, even at the entry level.
  • The higher level skilled positions like Security resources continue to be very tough to find. At the same time, everything is going towards “software development” and “cloud” right now and these skills are the hardest to recruit.
  • Mid-management positions seem to be more open and are easier to source.
  • Some of the participants are not having any issue with retention, while others were seeing it as an ongoing challenge with very aggressive executive recruiters.
  • What are the lessons learned that you would want to share with your CIO Peers?
  • Spend your energy and efforts on retaining your existing staff as it is much easier to keep them versus finding them in the first place.
  • CIOs should work with HR to educate them on why hiring for IT is different than other areas of the organization.
  • Adopt a holistic full life cycle approach to managing your resources and “play the long game”.
  • Consider forming “global virtual teams” and leveraging the power of diversity to create the best possible chance of success and future flexibility.

At the conclusion of the session a poll was taking regarding the members’ experience with the session. The feedback was once again overwhelmingly positive with 86% of the participants rating the session as “worth my time and would recommend it to my peers”. The attendees were also asked if they would be open to doing a future CIO Connect session that is organized by industry segment. 57% of the respondents were strongly in favour connecting with their peers in their industry segments, while the remaining 43% would be open to doing so based on the topic and other participants at the session.

We encourage all members to participate in these monthly CIO Connect sessions. If you have a specific topic in mind that you would like to be the focus of a future session, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know. Our next session is scheduled for October 21st. Hope to see you there.

Gary Davenport

Host, CIO Connect

Past National President

CIO Association of Canada

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