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A Bad Time for CIO Job Seekers?

Insurance CIOs may have less to worry than those in other industries, but for those looking for a CIO spot, it could be a tough time to find a job. On the other hand, given the inclination to spend and the reluctance to hire, now may be a better time to find consulting gigs.

A few days ago, a CIO contact of mine remarked that he thought it was a bad time to be looking for a job. I should say and "ex-CIO contact," since he ceased to hold that title sometime late last year. My contact's theory seemed to be confirmed by an InformationWeek commentary published this morning , but there is room to speculate whether insurance might be less subject to the economic downturn.I have to admit that I can think of more former CIOs (of the involuntary kind) than at any time in the recent past. On the other hand, I&T has reported on quite a few C-level appointments recently, including Jay Levine as CIO of BCBS of Minnesota; Vincent Cohan, CTO of AXA Tech; Mike Anselmo, CIO of Narragansett; and Gary Plotkin, CIO, OneBeacon. But let's take a look at what the InformationWeek article has to say:

The recession is turning out to be a career-booster for some folks within IT management ranks, but a dream-buster for a lot of CIOs looking for new jobs.

As companies are consolidating and downsizing in this rotten economy, there's a "huge supply of really good people hitting the streets looking for new jobs, including CIOs, CTO, VPs of infrastructure and other senior level IT executives," says Beverly Lieberman, president of Halbrecht Lieberman Associates, an executive recruitment firm specializing in IT careers. And as you might expect these days, not all of those IT managers and executives are hitting the street voluntarily, she says.

Lieberman says this trend affects financial services and insurance along with other industries. What she doesn't discuss is whether there might be any differences in the occurrence of this trend between industries.

I suspect that insurance will suffer less in this respect because carriers remain well funded and, if they haven't grown their IT budgets to earlier expectations, nor have they trimmed them back substantially. At the same time, insurers have unquestionably begun to act in more cost-conscious ways, and that's at least as true of IT organizations as of other departments.

That cost-consciousness is likely to manifest itself in solutions that include someone else managing what carriers used to do for themselves. That can include ASP and SaaS options, and will certainly mean a renewed emphasis on the offshore outsourcing option. Where insurers can cut back on management, they will, including dropping CIOs of acquired companies and resisting the creation of divisional CIOs.

Though the motives may be different, JP Morgan Chase's moves are likely to show a pattern that will be followed one way or another in the insurance industry. InformationWeek's Bob Evans reports that that the company is expanding its use of Indian outsourcers by 25% to deal with the IT integration of Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns, among other considerations.

Bottom line, insurance CIOs may have less to worry than those in other industries, but for those looking for a CIO spot, it could be a tough time to find a job. On the other hand, given the inclination to spend and the reluctance to hire, now may be a better time to find consulting gigs.Insurance CIOs may have less to worry than those in other industries, but for those looking for a CIO spot, it could be a tough time to find a job. On the other hand, given the inclination to spend and the reluctance to hire, now may be a better time to find consulting gigs.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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