Hospitality & Technology - What to Look for When Hiring a CTO
November 7, 2018 2:06pm
By Thomas Mielke
On the topic of hospitality, technology and recruitment (as published in Hospitality Upgrade)
Over the last several years, the function of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) has become increasingly important to the success of almost every type of organization. Yet, despite its importance, it is still rare for hospitality firms to provide a board seat for this vital function. Consequently, the public profile of CTOs is often limited. So, what are the building blocks that form the profile of a successful CTO? And, what are the character traits that hiring committees should be looking for in a CTO?
The CTO ‘WISH LIST’
In one-on-one conversations with senior executives at lodging and gaming companies around the globe, AETHOS sought input regarding the ideal CTO candidate. The leaders agreed that CTOs are the thread that both links internal departments together and connects firms to their customers. As such, senior executives who spearhead technology, systems and innovation are viewed as integral members of the executive committee. They set a firm’s IT strategy and vision and are peers to the chief commercial officer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer. As with any other C-suite appointment, hiring committees are understandably nit-picky when it comes to selecting a CTO.
The findings reveal that three traits – emotional intelligence, a consumer-centric mindset and high cognitive skills – are front-of-mind when companies are selecting the right candidate.
The CTO ‘REALITY CHECK’
With the above wish list in mind, AETHOS reviewed the profiles of top-performing CTOs and/or SVPs of technology at hospitality organizations around the world. Based on a confidential proprietary psychometric assessment (2020Skills), AETHOS looked at the profiles of those senior leaders, aiming to discover how the current talent pool would fare on this not-so-hypothetical scorecard. Overall, hiring committees will be pleased with the findings.
In the last 18 months, we have seen a flurry of changes at the senior leadership level within technology departments at major hospitality companies around the globe. Accor, IHG, Choice Hotels International and Viking Cruises, for example, have all been in the market for new CTOs. Looking at some of these new candidates, it becomes apparent that the industry is taking different approaches to filling that function. Firms are considering internal versus external hires, and they are looking at several industry sectors from which to recruit. The hiring committees will have gone through their due diligence process, and chances are they will have honed in on the three character traits the industry has used to describe and define their ideal CTO candidate.
However, AETHOS’ findings indicate at least one area where the current CTO talent pool appears to show room for improvement. From the psychometric assessments, it appears that current industry CTOs are bogged down by guidelines and lengthy tasks lists that may hinder their ability to respond quickly and efficiently to ad-hoc requests and needs. In a fast-paced function in which proactiveness, service orientation and customer-centric thinking is key, this is suboptimal. Hiring committees would do well to question their candidates about this going forward.
chief technology officer,
Thomas Mielke is a founding member of AETHOS Consulting Group - throughout his career, he has developed a successful track record in supporting leading hospitality organisations across the EMEA region in the identification and retention of key talent and in establishing compensation schemes and organisational structures. Thomas works with various firms in the hotel and lodging space but also counts among his clients wholesalers within the travel industry, real estate development companies, investment and sovereign wealth funds as well as internationally operating restaurant groups and cruise line companies.
Acting as a trusted advisor, Thomas supports the process of identifying and developing those values and best practices that define and foster a corporate culture and help create a core competency centred around people. He has authored a number of articles on talent management, entrepreneurship and leadership - including the European Corporate Governance Study and an annual review of CEO turnover at the world's 50 largest hotel companies - and is an AESC certified consultant. Thomas began his career with HVS Executive Search and is a graduate of Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne, holding a BSc. in International Hospitality Management.
Contact: Thomas Mielke
+44 74 1121-0650
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