Chief Information Officer

Scenario


A small tech construction company backed by a private equity company came to BWC Executive Group (BWC) to secure a Chief Information Officer (CIO) who would provide direct oversight of all IT functions.  With more than 20 years of leadership experience with an engineering firm and software company, the chosen candidate had the ideal combination of strategic leadership, profit/loss management, cybersecurity, digital transformation, and scaling a business practice that our client was looking for; as well as a personality that complimented the senior leadership team. 

Challenge


Our client was at the onset of significant growth, both organically and through acquisitions.  With the client looking to scale the business, they had challenges with their digital infrastructure and ERP system as the current system would not allow for the company to scale appropriately.  They also looked at the problem of the COVID pandemic and having their workforce work from home and having data secured through the network.  

The other challenge for the client; they wanted to bring all IT functions back into their corporate headquarters and not have these positions outsourced through a third party.  This was going to be their first actual technology officer and they needed to put together a vision that defined the role and responsibilities of that role which also taking into consideration the goals of the candidate for the first year.  We collaborated with our client early in the process to develop a plan that addressed this natural ambiguity, and it allowed us to explore a wide variety of candidates with different experiences, abilities, and expertise.  

Our client also strived for someone with experience integrating acquired companies to support the company’s plans for ongoing inorganic growth.  Fortunately, our client understood the challenging and broad parameters that they were setting, and it allowed us to be creative with our search strategy and genuinely collaborate on defining the position as the search progressed.  

Also, the new CIO would have a degree of freedom and autonomy to shape the position over time, so they would also need to possess patience in the short-term while not losing sight of the big picture and future opportunities.  

Strategy


Knowing there would be a shallow talent pool to source from, we widened our scope to a national search, looking across a variety of layers within the construction industry while remaining vigilant with regards to confidentiality and visibility.  Working closely with the CEO and CHRO, we focused on building a narrative around the drivers for the creation of the CIO position, and opportunities to shape the role over time, including succession opportunities.  Our multi-faceted approach had us exploring peer organizations, as well as large engineering firms, EPC conglomerates, construction risk/surety companies, construction software companies, and law firms with construction divisions.

Due to the strength of our relationship with the client, we were able to educate candidates on the client’s culture, growth trajectory, short- and long-term initiatives, and the collective upside. We were frequently targeting executive-level professionals in Chief Information Officer, Vice Presidents or Directors of Information Technology, or Senior Managers positions at medium to large firms.  We recognized that a professional’s title is not always indicative of their duties or abilities. Still, we needed someone who would not be afraid to work with executive leadership and the private equity company.  While staying open-minded in order to explore all options, we spent time speaking with executives, partners at engineering and law firms, and other high-level professionals within the industry for networking purposes, as well as for referrals.    

Results


The selected candidate was formerly the Director of Information Technology of a premier construction firm running a business unit across the West Coast.  Having spent roughly eight years with a start-up software company before the company was acquired, he put all the infrastructure in place including the ERP selection and implementation, securing customers’ data and protecting IP and business data, information assets and technologies against threats.  

He then found himself at a top twenty construction firm in the world as their Information Security Manager before going through four promotions along the way to leading the West Coast operation.  He also was able to help nine people under his direction get promoted in various roles, and one person becomes a CIO with another company.  His approach to professional development, both his own and his teams’, showed our client the great lengths he’d go to develop leadership skills and create a positive culture.  As a “lead by example” professional, the selected candidate’s demeanor and personality complemented our client’s senior leadership team, and, during the interview process, he built confidence that he’d garner the respect of employees and vendors alike.  

Since joining our client, the new CIO has been executing a plan to integrate himself effectively, build relationships across the business, understand the culture, and has already begun the implementation of a new ERP system that would be able to scale the market for years to come.  He also discovered some gaps in business processes that had the potential to cause vulnerabilities within the business from a security standpoint and were able to quickly implement protocols to secure any potential vulnerabilities. 

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