CIOs need to spend more time fostering internal talent and grooming a successor for their position from within the organisation, according to UK heads of IT.

It is common for organisations to use head-hunting recruitment agencies to find a new ‘big name’ IT leader but’s CIO Jury user panel argued that internal succession planning provides more continuity, is good governance and can save both time and money.

Eleven of the CIO Jury voted in favour of the argument that more time should be spent grooming a successor with just one voting against.

Victor Kemeny, IT director at bookmakers William Hill, said being able to demonstrate a sound succession plan is vital not only for contingency situations but also for the CIO’s own career path.

“How can CIOs set themselves up for other opportunities within the businesses they work unless the business can see a logical successor?” he asked.

Sean Powley, head of IS strategy at the London Borough of Barnet, said: “A key element of a senior manager’s role is to foster and develop talent, whether that talent chooses to stay with the organisation or move on.”

Others said the decision to recruit a successor internally or externally can depend on whether the board is looking for an injection of fresh blood to provide new thinking. Rob Neil, head of ICT at Ashford Borough Council, said: “New blood from outside, particularly in the public sector, can be a positive advantage.”

Alan Brown, head of information management and technology at West London Mental Health Trust, said: “If you need someone who knows the business, has built up relationships with customers and suppliers then groom an internal candidate. If you need a change leader then bring someone in from the outside.”

But Mark Devine, head of IT at accountancy body ACCA, said that fresh thinking need not just come from an externally head-hunted candidate.

“It is wrong to generalise that internal candidates for the senior IT role are institutionalised and incapable of independent or alternative thought. The IT strategy is led by the CIO and is a collective response from the senior IT management team but it does not follow that an internal successor would not take an alternative, radical and fresh approach to the delivery of IT services and management of the IT function,” he said.

Jacques Rene, head of IS and projects at Airclaims, said grooming and recruiting from within makes more business sense.

“I am very conscious of succession planning and intend to implement one for my role. I believe that any organisation should have one in place as it would save them a lot of time and money,” he said.

This week’s CIO Jury was…

Alan Brown, head of IM&T, West London Mental Health Trust
Linda Chandler, head of IT, London Development Agency
Frank Coyle, IT director, John Menzies Distribution
Mark Devine, head of IT, ACCA
Victor Kemeny, IT director, William Hill
Colin Moore, head of information services, Department for Education and Skills
Rob Neil, head of ICT, Ashford Borough Council
Mark Outhwaite, director of technologies, NHS Modernisation Agency
Andy Pepper, director of business information systems, Tetley
Sean Powley, head of IS strategy, London Borough of Barnet
Jacques Rene, head of IS and projects, Airclaims
David Yu, COO, Betfair

If you are a CIO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and want to be part of’s CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at