CIOs embrace remote recruitment to land new gigs

New CIOs of Okta and Quick Base discuss their recruitment experience and offer tips for IT leaders open to or actively seeking new roles during the pandemic.

CIOs embrace remote recruitment to land new gigs

Shortly before COVID-19 disrupted the United States, Alvina Antar was approached by an executive recruiter on behalf of Okta. Would Antar, six years into her role as CIO of Zuora, be interested in leading IT at the popular provider of digital identity software? Antar was intrigued.

But Antar’s recruitment paused as the pandemic forced offices to close in mid-March. Maybe it wasn’t the right time to move, Antar recalls thinking. She had a good gig and the outbreak had generated considerable uncertainty. But the recruiter restarted the search process a few weeks later and Antar participated in Zoom interviews with Okta CEO Todd McKinnon, COO Frederic Kerrest and other executives. She officially took the helm as CIO in August — without having set foot in Okta’s office for a face-to-face meeting.

The 100% virtual courtship may have been unusual, but it was a win-win. “Critical hires need to continue,” Antar says. “You need change agents to take us through the uncertainty and to be well positioned to come out of the pandemic swinging to drive growth and scale.”

If the pandemic underlines any adage, it’s “never let a good crisis go to waste,” says Eric Sigurdson, who leads the CIO practice at Russell Reynolds Associates. Sigurdson says that opportunistic companies are capitalizing on the pandemic by scooping up top tech talent, especially at the executive level. In recent months, leading brands such as The Walt Disney Co., Cigna, Bed, Bath & Beyond and H&M Group announced new IT leaders.

Familiarity breeds culture fit

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