SOUND OFF: Results from our poll on IT talent challenges and solutions

Recently, we posed two questions about IT talent recruiting and retention to Heller Report readers and our technology leadership networks:

1. What is your single greatest technology talent challenge?

2. What is one step you have taken that has noticeably improved acquisition, development, or retention of technology talent?

We are delighted to share this wealth of insight and advice from your peers. Thank you for your responses!

- - - - -

 Paul Karras, CIO round4

Paul Karras
CIO, Hu-Friedy

Challenge: Competing with larger and more well-known corporations for top talent. While we offer competitive salaries and a host of employee benefits, many times, candidates are drawn to established businesses that may have a perceived status, alluring compensation packages, and job stability typically associated with bigger companies.

Solution: We set a very high standard for talent. Our leadership model helps define what “the right talent” means for our organization. We have a deep methodology in place to assess candidates against those competencies and to ensure we’re bringing the best talent in order to stay competitive. We are not only looking for people with deep functional expertise who can do the job today, we continually look for talent with the leadership capabilities required for future roles. What we view as critically important are:

  • The cumulative effect of all of processes, compensation, performance measurement, and recognition that shape what we describe as corporate culture, increasing our capabilities and output. In other words, we are looking for contribution fit rather than simply culture fit.

  • Competitive differentiation is important to us. We believe that the increase in capabilities and perspectives differentiates our talent and our company from the competition and our ability to compete and win.

An increase in perspective from new talent brings fresh innovative thinking gleaned from experiences with other companies and industries. Leveraging those perspectives helps to drive innovation and new methodologies.

- - - - -


Christopher Davis round

Christopher Davis
EVP & CIO, Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers

Challenge: Finding talent with an understanding of not just technology, but possessing the business acumen and understanding to partner with the rest of the organization.

Solution: Increased development through training and use of individual development plans that include coaching. Additionally, I am considering remote workers and other flexible working options.

- - - - -


Gary Scholten round

Gary Scholten
EVP & CIO, Principal Financial Group

Challenge: An increasing percentage of our technology roles require an engineering mindset, but that's a change from previous employee selection and development practice.

Solution: Restructuring technology career paths to put a significant emphasis on engineering, data, security and ecosystems, in order to position employee development and selection in those directions.

- - - - -


Related Resource: Ten Must-Have CISO Skills

- - - - -


Gustavo Cervantes round

Gustavo Cervantes
Executive Director, Monterrey IT Cluster

Challenge: Talent with competencies in artificial intelligence tools development, and also applications development talent with competencies in business analysis.

Solution: Working with alternative sources of talent development, like universities, and collaborating with them to access their students. Internally, creating a "company school" which develops training tracks, with the best internal employees serving as trainers.

- - - - -


Tom Sweet round

Tom Sweet
VP in IT Services, GM Financial

Challenge: Finding talent that is willing to work in Arlington, TX, when most of the tech jobs and events are 40 miles away in the North Dallas/Plano area.

Solution: I am quite active on LinkedIn, and I have been using video to demonstrate our awesome team culture, showcase my team members, and build my brand as an IT leader that supports his team. This helps with recruiting and retaining staff.

- - - - -


Kemal Piskin round

Kemal Piskin
CISO, LinQuest Corporation

Challenge: The first issue is weighing professional development needs against targeted training needed for specific IT and security capabilities. And related to that is a time challenge - being able to let people be out of the office for a week or more of training, since the ROI isn't immediate, and we run a lean organization.  

Solution: I've place training objectives into staff annual objectives, which essentially forces them to develop themselves, whether it’s by attending Blackhat, or a certification boot camp. Part of this objective is to have people bring back knowledge to share with the rest of the IT and security teams. My staff has earned several certifications and is also keeping up on current security issues. And I have zero retention issues.

- - - - -


Nishant Awasthi round

Nishant Awasthi
Senior Manager, Business Consulting Services (Regional Lead), Centric Consulting

Challenge: With digital transformation underway in most companies, and with enterprise agility as a key objective, having a sound workforce and organization strategy is a must. The biggest challenge is to find and retain highly skilled technology talent.

Solution: There are few ways I have optimized our workforce strategy to attract and retain the talent we need:

  1. Keep team members motivated via rewards and recognition programs,
  2. Compensate them well (pay at or above the market rate),
  3. Develop a clear "career path" and "training" programs,
  4. Generate a sense of "community" where talented individuals get a chance to stand up and share their experience.

- - - - -


IT Executive Roles Heller Search Recruits


- - - - - 


Larry Gioia round

Larry Gioia
Director, Digital Health and Technology Transformation, PwC

Challenge: Product management expertise. I work for one of the largest professional services firms in world and attracting this kind of talent and creating a scalable career model for them is incredibly challenging given, the high demand for these skills in the market.

Solution: We're looking at new university partnerships to establish a pipeline of talent for these non-traditional skills.

- - - - -


Darin Prill round

Darin Prill
Senior Director – Technology Lead, Cerner/Children’s National Health System

Challenge: In a very competitive market for IT skills, it is difficult to recruit at all levels, but in healthcare, recruiting good, solid, knowledgeable security talent is especially difficult.   

Solution: We are working on developing relationships with military organizations for people leaving the military with the security skills we need.

- - - - -



anonymous female round


Challenge: Recruiting cybersecurity talent.

Solution: We find internal people with the right aptitudes and the right attitude. Then we then train them up. 

- - - - -


anonymous round


Challenge: Business people who use the technology, and who are capable, willing and available to engage in technology transformation projects. In our company, business SME's and user-readiness amid change are the biggest challenges.

Solution: We hire people who have relevant experiences and who also have the aptitude and attitude to grow. Then we train with formal education, job shadowing and good old on-the-job training.

- - - - -


anonymous female round


Challenge: Keeping trained and skilled staff available to service and support the technology.

Solution: We offer more training and reduced in-office work time (remote worker). We try to standardize on technology so the skill set is more of a commodity. 

- - - - -


Have you identified your biggest talent challenge, and a strategy to solve it? Please continue the sharing of ideas on this important topic by posting a Comment here. Thanks!

IT talent challenge solving3

Roles We Recruit


Read our weekly e-newsletter packed with career advice and resources for the strategic technology leader, and information about active searches.

The Heller Report

Add a Comment

My CIO Career: Ron Blahnik, CIO of Hibbett Sports, on Leading Both IT and Business Strategy in the C-Suite

Jul 10, 2024

My CIO Career: Frank Iannella, CIO of Heineken USA, on Learning How to Lead Change

Jun 18, 2024