CIOs cash in on COVID heroics

IT leaders’ pandemic response has increased their visibility and importance, making them more marketable in landing new gigs, promotions, and greater stakes.

CIOs cash in on COVID heroics
Natali Mis / Getty Images

Vishal Gupta was not actively looking for a new role, but the calls started coming from companies and recruiting firms, and by the third one in the fall of 2020, he decided, “It didn’t hurt to talk.” At the time, Gupta was CTO of Unisys, and knew the events of the past year had shone a spotlight on his efforts to help enable remote work and accelerate digital initiatives at the company.

Gupta was lured away, and in February he became the senior vice president and CITO of printing company Lexmark. He attributes the interest in him “100%” to the prominence IT leaders have gained during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Both the scope and value of the people enabling the transformation in a company — whether the CIO, CTO, or CISO — is continuing to go up,’’ he says.

Gupta says he decided to join Lexmark because he liked that the CTO and corporate strategy team would be reporting to him. “It showed me there was seriousness that the CIO is strategic’’ and “that this was a unique opportunity,” he says, adding that Lexmark’s commitment to tech both internally and externally indicated that “we can achieve some amazing transformation.”

Success breeds opportunity

Even prior to the pandemic, many business leaders were beginning to realize the mission-critical role technology plays in business transformation. That notice carried into the pandemic, during which the work that IT leaders have done has only increased their visibility and importance — and made them more marketable.

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