7 Key Points When Hiring a CIO, CTO or IT Director

The IT leader is a critical role. But what is this role and how do you hire the best at an affordable salary?

There is no generally accepted definition of the differences between the roles of the IT Director, CIO (Chief Information Officer) and CTO (Chief Technology Officer). So for simplicity we use the term IT Director to encompass all 3 roles. In all cases the role covers information systems and the underlying technology. It may encompass strategy, business process and management information, digital and online, and office and facilities management as well.

The term CIO might be more appropriate for a role emphasising business process alignment, management information and business strategy rather than detailed technical leadership. In addition, they are going to be more focused on the operations and delivery of technology including infrastructure and management of third party service providers.

A CTO is generally someone focussed on software development, perhaps for digital projects. Ecommerce and customer interactive systems from social media through to customer portals are going to be where a CTO will be at home. They may be more aligned with marketing and revenue generation, and able to represent the company in relationships with funders and external parties.

An IT Director is perhaps the broadest term. It generally means an individual able to strategically lead all aspects of IT and its usage in business. They should have experience of business systems, software development, projects of all kinds, and IT infrastructure and facilities.

Feel free to use the attached Job Description to give you a template for defining this role.

7 Key questions to consider when defining the role for your organisation:

1. Who will the individual report to? To work across the whole company, to change processes and how people work, the person needs to be part of the senior team and may need to report to the CEO.

2. Will the individual be responsible for your company’s Digital Vision? If you have plans for ecommerce or social media marketing then will the person be responsible for this?

3. Do you need a supplier manager or team builder? If your IT is largely or wholly outsourced then this requires a leader with strong contract management skills who is very used to commercial negotiation and procurement. If your IT is largely insourced then your IT leader needs the personal style and leadership qualities to inspire and build a team.

4. Is the plan for major projects? The mindset and attitude of a leader who drives change is typically quite different to the person who oversees a steady-state.

5. Is there is already strong technical management in place, or IT infrastructure provision is outsourced to suppliers who have proven themselves technically capable. Or do you need a technical leader to provide technical vision and oversight.

6. Does your business include complicated processes and no existing senior leaders with time to address issues?

7. Is there a clear need for good data management or good management information, or are these issues already covered off by existing roles?


We only hire the best in the business – fewer than 1% of the people who apply to join us are able to successfully complete every stage of our recruitment process. We are completely independent and able to provide IT Directors, CTOs and CIOs on a part-time and flexible basis (we call it “fractional”). If you want to talk to us about what one of our team could do for your business then you can get in touch my emailing contact@freemanclarke.com