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Digital leadership jobs and trends in March 2024

Mark Chillingworth Profile picture for user Mark Chillingworth March 29, 2024
FMCG, health, media tech and a charity take on new tech leaders and will AI create a new digital leadership role?


Enterprise technology leadership continues to adapt to a post-pandemic economy and prepares for the increasing adoption of artificial intelligence. The jobs and trends in digital leadership in March 2024 demonstrate there are opportunities and challenges facing digital leaders.

Industry job changes

Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) CIO Vittorio Cretella announced both his retirement and that Seth Cohen, currently CIO with snack foods titan PepsiCo, would be his replacement. In quarter two of 2024, Ohio headquartered P&G announced net sales of $21.4 billion. Cretella has been P&G CIO for five years and spent 26 years with snack and pet foods makers Mars. The CIO announced his successor on LinkedIn and said: 

My time at P&G has truly been the pinnacle of my career. It has been a fantastic and fulfilling experience. At the same time, I'm greatly looking forward to my next chapter, which includes, first and foremost, giving time back to my family and to myself.

Incoming P&G CIO Cohen has been with PepsiCo for four and a half years and joined the firm from Reckitt, whose Chief Information and Digitization Office recently spoke to diginomia. Cretella said: 

I am confident that Seth's experience and skills will ensure the continuity of our digital journey, leveraging technology to serve and delight consumers.

Brinker, the major operator of Chili's Grill, Maggiano's Little Italy, It's Just Wings casual dining brands, has announced Chris Caldwell as SVP and CIO. Caldwell joins from the fast food chain KFC, where he was CIO for 10 years. Prior to his KFC career, Caldwell spent 12 years with Yum! Brands in infrastructure and applications leadership roles and then Director of IT Applications and Security. Kevin Hochman, Brinker CEO, said in a statement: 

He has a consistent track record of results and has successfully led a multi-unit restaurant digital transformation similar to what we are undergoing here at Brinker. I'm confident Chris will successfully accelerate our technology strategy to remove friction for both guests and team members and move the needle on profitable growth.

Media accessibility firm Iyuno, which provides subtitling, speech recognition and distribution to customers such as Netflix, has given Allan Dembry the role of Chief Security and Information Technology Officer. Dembry has been the London-based CIO for Iyuno since April 2021 and was previously CTO for Iyuno Media Group from 2019 to 2021. Dembry is a veteran of the media technology sector, having previously held senior roles at Vubiquity, On Demand and Pilat Media. 

Health and Third Sector job changes 

In healthcare, New York's Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) has appointed a Chief Innovation Officer with the recruitment of Jeff Wang, the former Chief Strategy Officer for Dutch medical technology giant Philips. Wang spent four years with Philips as Chief Strategy Officer and Commercial Leader for its Population Health Management practice and then took on the North American business before joining Redesign Health and PWC. Wang said of his new role: 

I will be partnering with the world's best clinical, scientific, and engineering experts in musculoskeletal health, to unlock innovation, commercialization, and diverse business creation opportunities for HSS and our colleagues.

The discoveries and inventions of the HSS community will make patient outcomes and experiences even better. Widening pathways to innovative success will make HSS an even better place for top MSK experts to thrive and make an impact. And doing this work with the best minds in the industry is a fortune that I am already grateful for.

Across the Atlantic, Andy Haywood has joined the Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust as Group Digital Information Officer. The two Trusts are now a single group, the NHS Humber Health Partnership. 

At Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust Haywood replaces Shauna McMahon, who was CIO from April 2019 to December 2023 and was the trusts first board level CIO, navigating the organization through a poor Care Quality Commission report and the digitization of its patient communications. McMahon became CIO for the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in January 2024. 

Haywood brings a wealth of healthcare experience to the organization having been Director of Digital Services at the Welsh Ambulance Service from January 2020 to August 2022. He had been Associate Director of Digital at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in 2019 and began his career in the UK's Royal Navy. 

Ian Cohen, Chief Product and Information Officer of Acacium Group, a significant provider to the healthcare sector, is moving to a new position as Group Technology Strategy Director. Cohen says: 

I'm excited to let you know that, after an incredible four years, I am stepping down from my role as Chief Product & Information Officer at Acacium Group.  

So why am I excited?? Because I won't be hanging up my iPad just yet - I will be staying with Acacium in the interim as Group Technology Strategy Director to lead our Generative AI activities, support our M&A initiatives and assure the leadership transition. From there, it will be on to some new opportunities.

In the third sector UK charity Guide Dogs for the Blind Association has appointed Dan Hall as CIO, Hall's second role in a charity for the blind, having been Head of IS for the Blind Veterans UK charity from 2008 to 2014. Hall has also led technology at the British Council and The Girls' Day School Trust in the third sector. Hall replaces Gerard McGovern, who was CIO from 2019 to 2023 and is now Director, Digital Strategy with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. 

Trends - AI gets digital leader

CIO & Technology Officers Practice partner at search firm Odgers Berndtson Matt Cockbill has been looking at the rise of the Chief AI Officer role, which the international business is seeing develop. At present, he reports that large organizations are appointing Chief AI Officer roles as they have large data sets, workforces and customer usage that justify AI and an AI leader. 

Asked if this is similar to the rise of Chief Digital Officers a decade ago, Cockbill says: 

Yes, and no. Outside of the largest environments, the AI exec's responsibilities are, in the main, being championed and adjunct to the remit of CIOs and CDOs at medium-sized enterprises. In larger businesses, this is a new addition to the digital, data and technology leadership community. The role is evolving fast, and it's an extremely exciting space to be working in. The market is chasing a relatively small pool of talent, so for the foreseeable future, these roles are at a premium. Given the pervasive value cases for exploitation of AI and advanced data analytics, these roles aren't going to disappear in the foreseeable future.

So, for those CIOs and CTOs between roles, what do they need to get on the shortlist of this new role? 

In what is a fast maturing market for AI leadership talent, roles can be (possibly) oversimplified to those who bring technical domain experience, or those who bring transformation leadership experience. Those that stand-out remain to be those who can link technical delivery with meaningful business outcomes, understood and valued by their stakeholders – as with every senior functional leadership position.

My take

Just like the economy, the momentum of role changes is gathering pace. Personally I'm sceptical that the Chief AI Officer role is not a short term change as sectors look to accelerate AI adoption before handing it back to the CIO or CTO. A subject to watch with interest. 

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