Close this search box.
Close this search box.

4 Reasons Why You Need to Invite Your Tech Chief Into the C-Suite

As every organization moves toward a digital transformation, it has become evident that companies are requiring a higher level of technology expertise at the top than was needed just a few years ago. And CEOs are responding by removing the layers between themselves and the CIO or CTO, and elevating that position to the executive team.

Recently, for instance, Whole Foods Markets promoted Jason Buechel from global vice president to executive vice president and chief information officer, making him a member of the management team at the company.

“Technology is essential to our customer experience, our team member experience, our ability to compete, and our ability to effectively deliver return on invested capital,” said Glenda Flanagan, Whole Foods’ chief financial officer.

Meanwhile, for the first time, Domino’s elected a tech startup chief to its board of directors. Andy Ballard is CEO and cofounder of Quad Analytix, which invests in digital media. Domino’s has blazed a trail in the use of digital media, especially in the customer experience, and Ballard said he is looking forward to lending his technology and marketing expertise.

“Ihe IT leader of today plays a huge role in corporate risk management and mitigation.”

Dennis Zeleny, who most recently was chief HR officer of Sunoco and who is a foremost consultant to CEOs on corporate culture and human relations, told CEO Briefing that 4 trends have come together to “transform the chief IT role from that of just a technology expert to a business-leadership role.” They are:

1. CEOs need proactive tech experts. The role of the CIO or lead technology officer has changed “from overseeing inputs and outputs and making sure this is done cost-effectively to providing useful information to leaders to make strategy decisions and help determine what is possible and to run the business with a proactive rather than reactive approach,” Zeleny explained.

2. Tech is where many new risks reside. Consider the cases of the dozens of major companies whose businesses have been turned upside down by hacking, including the accessing of millions of customer records. “This is another area where the board has become very involved, and increasingly it shows up as an ongoing topic on their calendars for discussion and review,” Zeleny said. “So the IT leader of today plays a huge role in corporate risk management and mitigation.”

3. The demands on tech leaders have broadened. No longer, Zeleny said, can IT leaders “know all the technology—it’s just too vast and ever-developing.” Rather, he said, their role has become one “to assess and bring together talent and coalesce a team that has all the required knowledge, and orchestrate their efforts so they can work across boundaries to build the requisite networks.” Today’s tech leaders must be broad enough to possess strong communications and managerial skills in what Zeleny called a “transition from geek to business partner.”

4. The stakes have risen for tech projects. Companies used to be able to switch computing platforms or enterprise-software systems in a relatively obscure way as long as there were no monumental screw-ups. But now, Zeleny noted, tech projects “are often one of the most expensive internal costs and most complicated projects a corporation” takes on. They are under a “higher level of board scrutiny. unlike in years past.” Ultimately accountable for the success of these endeavors, CEOs are striving to raise the qualifications and impact of those in charge of such projects to “a place worthy of the C-suite.”

Given these dynamics, it’s likely that more CEOs and boards will be elevating their technology functions and chief technology officers in the months and years ahead.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.