New research from Experis looks at what factors make up the typical DNA of today’s CIOs 

Experis, the global leader in professional IT resourcing, has analysed information from its customers’ top CIOs to determine what makes up the DNA of the role. The research found that, despite a cross-industry drive for diversity, core defining factors remain fundamentally traditional. The average DNA of a CIO continues to be:

  • Male – Nearly all (87%) of the CIOs analysed were male, compared to 13% females
  • Middle aged – all CIOs fell into the late 40s/early 50s bracket, with an average age of 49
  • STEM degree educated – Nearly all had a degree, with 50% of those having read computer science, engineering, maths or electronics at university

Despite an increasing focus on diversity across the C-Suite – IBM VP Claudia Brind-Woody is helping shape diversity with her workplace equality campaigns, for example – our analysis shows that the average CIO working for a major organisation is male, comes from a science background and has decades of experience under their belt.

However, there were some promising anomalies that hint towards future change, including:


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  • A quarter (25%) of those investigated had read a business subject at university, and 17% studied a humanities degree, such as Philosophy or English Language & Linguistics
  • 29% of CIOs researched had two degrees, showcasing a continued investment in their knowledge, skills and education to attain a C-Suite position in technology.

Geoff Smith, Managing Director at Experis UK & Ireland, comments: “From working with some of the top CIOs at the world’s biggest organisations, we recognise that there is still a traditional route ‘to the top’, founded in technology and science and often moving up within a company. However, it’s encouraging to see that some of today’s highflyers studied humanities or business subjects before moving into technology and IT. Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter if you have a STEM degree or not, as our customers increasingly talk about the need for a CIO to have wider communications and business leadership skills.

“Diversity is a major focus for many of our clients. While organisations are making progress, there is still some way to go. From gender – we know we need a wider female representation across the industry – to education, age and ethnic diversity. We’re starting to see more awareness campaigns to encourage these groups into tech. However, it’s up to businesses to widen their search criteria and develop tailored talent attraction campaigns that will entice these individuals. Finally, it’s important to nurture and mentor individuals from different backgrounds into leadership positions.”

The CIO DNA analysis is designed to highlight the amount – or lack of – diversity at CIO level.