Regardless of whether CIO tenure is lengthening or shortening, it is still pegged around the four to five year-mark and in line with Petersmark's story.
Petersmark, who began his career as a midnight shift computer operator, would learn that the job of CIO "is much less about technology and much more about contributing to the success of the business."
Understanding this "probably kept me in the game for a longer time," he said.
The story about the five-year cycle is "an easy attitude to lock into" and one that "can almost be self-fulfilling," Petersmark said.
His approach is to look at it critically and ask why things happen that lead to short tenure. The biggest one is "at some level of another they don't deliver," he said.
Petersmark left his latest job to begin a new career at X by 2, a software architecture consultancy. The company created a new job title for him, CIO advocate.
Seth Harris, executive vice president of executive search firm Cook Associates, notes another change in CIO hiring: the amount of time that companies are taking to hire their top IT executives.
"The searches are taking longer because the client understands the strategic value of the CIO more so than at any other time," Harris said. "CEOs have higher expectations of CIOs in terms of their knowledge of the business, and being able to solve business problems through the use of technology."
Blake Coleman, a technology recruiter at FGP International, says there is demand for strong IT management talent, and he believes this demand is higher than the supply.
If a company is happy with its IT leadership, Coleman's advice is to keep them happy and challenged so they don't leave.
It is "important to retain the right talent," he said.
Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
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