Big Upswing In CTO Hiring As Companies Seek Technological Edge

September 29, 2015 – New York City-based executive recruiter 680 Partners has placed Patrick McClellen as chief technology officer of Digilant Inc., a holding company of ISP Digital. Digilant partners with agencies and brands to provide customized and scalable programmatic media solutions.

Ross Freeman, 680 Partners CEO, handled the search assignment. Mr. Freeman works in partnership with a number of top venture capital and private equity firms and LBO funds to help build senior management teams, with a special emphasis on assembling management talent for software and technology companies. In addition to Digilant, 680 Partners has recruited CTOs for Integral Ad Science, Medialets, DNA Info and PDR.

Prior to joining Digilant, Mr. McClellan was chief technology officer for Smartclip, the advertising platform and owner of the ‘SmartX Platform’ — a programmatic multiscreen video SSP where he directed all application development, architecture and software quality assurance for the company. Previously, he was the chief information officer of EyeWonder, a provider of interactive digital advertising technology and services.

Mr. Freeman said that as corporate environments become more technical in nature, company leadership will be required to understand and/or have a deep background in technology. “The CEO of tomorrow will need to be able to look at what people call ‘transformative innovation’ in technology and make predictions on which their business strategy will rely,” he said.

Newly-named CTOs have been cropping up in a range of recent corporate hirings, from industrial giant GE to data management company NetApp to non-profits like the Museum of Modern Art — they all have named chief technology officers in the last couple of weeks.

Even Hillary Rodham Clinton hired a longtime Google technology executive last month to serve as CTO to oversee her likely presidential campaign’s technology development. Aside from keeping close tabs on Mrs. Clinton’s server activities, CTO Stephanie Hannon has been tasked with overseeing a team of engineers and developers to devise web sites, apps and other tools for the former Secretary of State and her staff to engage with supporters and voters. Ms. Hannon’s biggest challenge is to set in place a technological infrastructure to connect with Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, capture information about them, and raise money from them.

Mr. Freeman said all of these chief technology officers clearly give each of these organizations a competitive edge. “As companies shift structures, we will see more senior people in the CIO/CTO organizations taking on significant business decisions,” he said. This will require executive recruiters to look at a candidate’s leadership and management skills as well as top knowledge of modern technology. “If a company of any size or type does not have someone at the top thinking about how technology impacts their overall business strategy then over time they will no longer be competitive in the market.”

“The top technology or digital executive will be required to fundamentally shift from being a technology leader to a business leader to mirror the growing need for technology to drive innovation in business,” said Mr. McClellen, Digilant’s new CTO occupant. “There will always be room for strong technology leaders, but without business acumen those positions will not have a seat at the senior executive table. The successful technology leaders will become the business leaders in time.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief and Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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