What Are the Greatest Hiring Needs of 2017?

January 4, 2017 – Executive search firm ON Partners has unveiled a list of executive jobs expected to be in demand in the coming year in the technology, life sciences and industrial sectors. According to the search firm’s consultants, the continued economic recovery, digitalization, and cyber-security concerns will be among the chief factors driving executive hiring in 2017.

“With the presidential election finally behind us, companies are focused on hiring for anticipated growth, ramping up security efforts and leveraging the data that’s now available to them,” said Tim Conti, ON Partners co-founder and managing partner. “While hiring is expected to be up overall, companies still have to do more with less, so they are being as strategic as possible about who they bring on.”

Mr. Conti said this year’s lineup reflects the executive positions that are currently at the top of an organizations’ priority list. So, without further ado, here is the ON Partners’ list of top executive jobs for 2017:

1) Technology

IoT Architect / Head of IoT Strategy

Despite security and cost concerns, businesses and their IT teams are moving forward on practical deployments of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, according to a survey from IDC. The IoT architect is emerging as the key role for planning, executing and governing IoT, with organizations including IoT architecture, planning and execution roles in their 2017 staffing and skills planning.

Chief Data Officer

With Big Data taking center stage and organizations recognizing its advantages, data scientists will be in high demand, and there is currently a shortage of those qualified for the position.

Head of People Analytics

Another data-centric position made the list: As companies better understand how to extract, translate and leverage their people-related data, this will become an increasingly popular and critical role within HR departments, regardless of industry.

Chief Digital Officer (CDO)

Also known as the chief digital information officer (CDIO), this role is arguably attracting the most attention in the C-suite. Often called the “transformer in chief,” the CDO is charged with converting an organization’s traditional analog business to a digital one, not a small task in most organizations.


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Board Member with Digital Expertise

Organizations across virtually all markets today need people at the executive level who understand the digital shift and can help companies navigate the transformation.

VP of User Experience

There is a huge need for this role as we all continue to interact with technology, web, and ecommerce. User interface and ease of use are the most vital aspects of product design, and having someone who can lead the charge in creating and updating products that excel in these areas can mean the difference between success and failure.

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

With cyber attacks occurring at an alarming rate and impacting an increasing number of organizations, having experts in place who can help defend from these attacks is critical. This person needs a thorough understanding of various aspects of security, including vulnerability detection, identity / access management, endpoint and web security and network security.

VP Product Security / Chief Product Security Officer

Our lives are constantly connected thanks to the hardware, software and service products we consume. While they create efficiencies in the world around us, they can also allow others access into our personal space. Threat protection and robust, proven product security is becoming as important to a company’s brand as the look and feel of their products.

2) Life Sciences / Healthcare

Chief Strategy Officer

The ongoing convergence of healthcare and technology and the need for increasingly strategic input to drive corporate decision-making has driven demand for executives with transformative scope, influence and impact. These CSOs can make an international contribution particularly as U.S. companies figure out how to more effectively penetrate global markets.

Director of Virtual Medicine

As the practice of virtual medicine – applying technology to patient care – becomes increasingly commonplace, healthcare organizations need leaders who understand the nuances of patience care, can navigate the various layers of a healthcare organization and understand the technologies involved in virtual medicine and how to apply them successfully within their organizations.

3) Industrial and Manufacturing

Head of eCommerce

While the digital transformation is impacting nearly every market, leading an organizations’ ecommerce strategy in the industrial sector requires a specific set of skills. Companies are looking to invest more heavily in B2B ecommerce capabilities, as their customers want not only to be able to browse their catalogs online, but make purchases as well. Companies are also increasingly looking to the broader online marketplaces (Amazon, eBay, Alibaba) as an opportunity to sell other businesses their products, so bringing someone on board who can navigate these waters is critical.

New Officer Titles Gaining Traction

A handful of new C-suite titles have been cropping up at businesses around the globe, according to a new report by search firm Odgers Berndtson and authored by business journalist Gary Mead.

According to the report, executives climbing the corporate ladder are in hot pursuit of titles that include the words ‘chief’ and ‘officer.’ Among them: chief happiness officer, chief privacy officer, chief people officer, chief digital officer, chief knowledge officer, chief customer officer, chief luminary officer, chief innovation officer, and chief observance officer.

Why the Proliferation In C-Titles?

Kodak and Dell a few years ago appointed chief listeners; Facebook has chief privacy officers; Microsoft has a chief people officer; Coca-Cola has a chief quality and product integrity officer. Steve Jobs called himself chief know-all.

There’s no simple answer as to why C-titles are proliferating now at such a rapid rate. Partly it’s a response to the lingering financial crisis from 2008. The days of easy money and ever-expanding GDP are gone – maybe forever – and it’s cheaper and easier to grant an important-sounding title than it is to give someone a fatter pay package.

While the corporate ladder may no longer be so steep for some, many workers, according to a number of reports, still think they deserve a promotion — and this is leading companies to feel pressured to hand out ‘better’ titles to make up-and-coming staff feel more valued.

Sally Drexler, an Odgers Berndtson partner in Los Angeles who focuses on finding digital leaders in the consumer sector, said new C-suite titles (apart from the traditional CEO, CFO, and COO roles) have been introduced in recent years and reflect the fact that company issues have become much broader and more complex, and consumer needs have changed dramatically.

“The new titles are a way for companies to show their consumers that they understand what is happening in the outside world and a way to highlight the priorities of a business,” said Ms. Drexler. “Some of the newer titles emphasize the importance of a new company initiative or function within an organization, such as chief security officer in light of recent data breaches. It also shows whether it is seen as being a high priority for the company and is strategically critical to its success.”

It is also a means to distinguish certain roles. “Bigger and more corporate companies have embraced some new C-suite titles to a lesser extent, but have been cautious as they have to act within corporate guidelines,” said Ms. Drexler. “The roles of chief transformation officer, chief innovation officer, chief administrative officer, chief revenue officer, chief data officer and chief security officer are more common in today’s big corporations, as they want to be seen as embracing change in both the digital sense and show the changing nature of how consumer’s consume.”

Many Sectors Looking to Hire In 2017

One in five employers or 19 percent anticipate increasing staff levels in the first quarter of 2017, according to the latest ‘Manpower Employment Outlook Survey,’ released today by ManpowerGroup.

Hiring intentions remain relatively stable across the U.S. for the following industry sectors: construction; education & health services; government; information; nondurable goods manufacturing; mining; other services; professional & business services; and transportation & utilities. Slightly weaker hiring prospects are reported in two national industry sectors for the coming quarter: the leisure & hospitality and wholesale & retail trade sectors.

“This a positive sign for job seekers and the economy at the start of 2017,” said Kip Wright, senior vice president, Manpower North America. But not all skills are created equal. “We continue to see significant differences between industries and employers demanding increasingly specific skills to fill positions. Ensuring people can prosper and businesses can compete depends on developing a U.S. workforce that is prepared for the jobs of today, tomorrow and the future.”

Department of Labor’s Unemployment Results

The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report seems to support the notion that employers are in hiring mode.

Employers added 178,000 jobs last month as the U.S. unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nine years standing at 4.6 percent. Within professional and business services, employment rose by 63,000 and has risen by 571,000 over the year. Over the month, accounting and bookkeeping services added 18,000 jobs. Employment continued to trend up in administrative and support services (+36,000), computer systems design and related services (+5,000), and management and technical consulting services (+4,000). Healthcare employment rose by 28,000 in November. Within the industry, employment growth occurred in ambulatory healthcare services (+22,000). Over the past 12 months, healthcare has added 407,000 jobs.

“It looks like companies are pretty bullish about what they’re going to see in 2017 and are continuing their strong hiring of the past few years,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at insurance company CUNA Mutual Group. “This is a good tailwind for the new administration.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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