With employees working from home more and more, using their own devices to access work emails and sensitive information, and many companies licensing outside, cloud based solutions to store sensitive data (like Salesforce, for example), information security has never been more important in the world of business.
Sometimes it seems like a month cannot go by without a major hacking story breaking in the news, and this invariably harms the reputation of the company involved. If you’re a new start-up, without years of goodwill built up to rely on, a single crisis like that could decimate your client base.
You need a dedicated member of the team to handle information security issues, at the executive level so they have the authority to make the reforms necessary to minimise risk. Some executives and CEOs find them hard to work with – their main job is to say no, of course, so this is understandable – but if you see the value in keeping your data safe, you’ll be happy to work with your new CIO (Chief Information Officer).
When you’re looking for your new CIO you need to screen for the qualities that separate a qualified candidate from the right candidate for you.
A good CIO has to be an excellent leader. They can’t fall back on the authority of their position: they need to win hearts and minds, and persuade people to follow rather than force them. This is especially important as you will often be telling people things that make their lives a little harder, and convincing them that ‘the way things have always been done’ isn’t good enough.
Your CIO needs to be someone who doesn’t just accept change but advocates for it, and is the first to embrace it. The best way to ensure a company adapts to new processes is to very visibly be the first to use them, and be willing and able to accept problems with them and look for solutions. You need to look for someone with a strong record of bringing companies through successful changes.
The final vital quality for a new CIO is ambition. If they don’t have the drive to make a success in this role at your company, then they simply won’t go the distance. Most CIO’s have to be on-call 24/7: if a new security measure causes a fault in the middle of the night, they have to be willing and able to get up and lead the response. Look for someone with real hunger when you ask them ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’.