Isaacson, Miller (IM), a national executive search firm dedicated to recruiting exceptional leaders for mission-driven organizations, seeks a Chief Information Officer (CIO). A private, employee-owned (ESOP) firm based in Boston, IM has offices in Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, employs over 200 people, and reported over $32 million in revenue in 2017.
Reporting to the president and serving as a member of the firm’s Management Committee, the CIO will set the overall strategy and direction for information technology at IM, serving as an IT subject matter expert, updating leadership on key technological advancements with relevance to its work, and ensuring that IT considerations remain at the forefront of key firm-wide deliberations. The CIO will lead short and long-term IT planning, oversee the execution of strategic projects, manage the IT team and resources, build cross-firm relationships, and communicate IT strategy and activity across the firm.
The successful candidate will be an accomplished and resourceful leader with the administrative, technical, communication, and organizational skills necessary to ensure that the firm’s technology investments most effectively facilitate its strategic objectives. At least ten years of relevant, progressively responsible professional experience is required, as is a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology or a related field.
IM was founded in 1982, and from the beginning, has been committed to strengthening and diversifying leadership in the civic sector. Today, IM conducts searches nationwide and increasingly overseas, across the entire civic sector and across all the core functions of its client organizations. The firm has thriving practices in higher education, including leading universities and colleges at every tier; pre-K-12 education and education improvement; healthcare, with particular depth in academic medicine; conservation, natural resources, and environment; foundations; arts and culture; human and social services; and social justice advocacy organizations, both national and international. While most clients are nonprofits, IM also works occasionally with public agencies and with select for-profit companies, including socially responsible organizations as well as those with ties to education and science.
Over the last decade, the firm has experienced significant growth, with revenues increasing annually 10 percent on average. Thirty partners lead recruiting teams of associates and search coordinators, all of whom are supported by a central services team that spans finance, IT, people and culture, business development, search quality, and knowledge management. IM is consistently ranked among the 20 largest executive search firms in the United States. IM closed over 300 searches in 2017 and has more than 6,000 searches on record.
Since its founding, IM has nurtured a culture of learning and experimentation in a context of collegiality, team spirit, shared values, and mission commitment. This dedication to mission and general esprit de corps attracts a remarkably diverse and talented staff, many of whom have held senior leadership positions in universities and colleges, advocacy organizations, public sector agencies, and human services organizations.
The firm made a mission commitment to diversity early in its development and has built a consistent and statistically significant record of diversity among its placements in executive positions and on its own staff. Since 1982, 23 percent of the successful candidates in its searches have been people of color and 43 percent have been women. Among the IM staff, 22 percent of employees are people of color and 70 percent are women.
Information Technology at Isaacson, Miller
The role and priorities of the IT team have shifted over time as IM has steadily grown in size and into new geographic territories. In this context, IT has focused heavily on connectivity in the past few years, ensuring that speed and reliability were maintained for a burgeoning and increasingly mobile workforce. These issues continue to be an important priority today, but with investments in bandwidth and upgrades in equipment, IM is now also able to focus on a more proactive approach to IT as a way to facilitate the firm’s strategic objectives. To this end, the firm has made a series of investments in systems and software in recent years aimed at improving staff efficiency and effectiveness in its client-facing work as well as in its internal operations. Some of the tools in which the firm has made significant investments include:
- Searchlink, IM’s proprietary database of more than 450,000 individuals, serves as the foundation of the firm’s external search work. Over the past year, IM’s Chief Knowledge Officer has worked closely with an external contractor to transition this mainframe database to the cloud. Staff began using Searchlink Cloud in August 2018.
- Citrix, a virtual desktop software, enables staff across all offices to easily share files and applications.
- Cisco WebEx, introduced to IM staff in 2018, is a key internal collaboration tool providing group messaging and video conferencing capabilities.
- Box is IM’s primary tool for both internal cloud-based storage as well as for secure document sharing in client-facing work.
- BlueJeans, an online videoconferencing platform, is the primary mechanism through which search teams conduct virtual interviews and meetings with candidates and clients.
- Acumatica, introduced in 2018, is a cloud-based accounting software that has increased the efficiency of expense reporting among staff and will provide additional efficiencies in other areas at its full deployment is completed.
- Paylocity was implemented in 2017 by IM’s People and Culture team as the firm’s payroll software. Paylocity will soon be the technology platform through which the firm manages its internal recruiting.
The IT team has played an important role in strategic deliberations about these technology investments, serving as a partner to colleagues in human resources, finance and accounting, and knowledge management, among other areas.
Chief Information Officer
Reporting to the president, the CIO is charged with setting the overall strategy and direction for information technology at IM. The CIO is a member of IM’s Management Committee, which is the senior management team of the firm and comprises the President, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Knowledge Officer, Chief Quality Officer, Director, People and Culture, and Director, Business Development (TBA). The Management Committee is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the firm as well as strategy development and implementation; financial planning and annual budget preparation and oversight; and policy formulation and implementation.
With an IT budget of $1.5 million, the CIO leads a team that currently includes three direct reports – Manager of IT Operations, a Technology Learning Integration Specialist, and an IT Support Specialist – to provide a consistently high level of service to colleagues across all levels and locations. The CIO also manages all relevant external relationships, including those with vendors and contractors providing IT services and support. Specifically, key responsibilities of the CIO include the following:
Leading short and long-term IT planning
As information technology at IM has grown in scope and quality, the CIO will be well-positioned to build on this momentum. Upon joining IM, the CIO will engage with a broad range of colleagues to understand IM’s strategic objectives, business practices, internal processes, and the technology investments required to reach its goals, while also undertaking an assessment of current offerings and proposed initiatives. The insights gained from these activities will serve as the foundation of a strategic exercise to guide the firm through its next evolution of technological investment. While the rapid pace of innovation can make long-range planning a challenging endeavor, the CIO must be forward-thinking and possess the knowledge and stature to guide this effort, recognizing the need for changes and adjustments as required.
Overseeing the execution of strategic projects
IM’s recent technology investments are an indication of the firm’s commitment to employing systems and tools that advance its mission and goals and increase efficiency and effectiveness. Looking ahead, the CIO will continue to ensure the completion of projects in transition while also overseeing a number of new IT initiatives. Key strategic projects over the next 12-18 months include the full implementation of the Office 365 suite as well as the migration of critical company data to the cloud. Drawing upon their strong project management experience, the CIO will work with IT staff and colleagues across the firm to see these projects through to a successful completion. As new tools are introduced, staff will require technical training to most effectively use them and maximize their impact. Training has generally not been systematic at IM and the CIO, in collaboration with the Technology Learning Integration Specialist, will lead the effort to plan and execute training that addresses the varying levels of expertise and technology comfort across the firm and is responsive to the wide range of staff needs and knowledge.
Managing the IT team and resources
IM’s IT staff members are talented, highly skilled professionals with a commitment to IM’s mission, culture, and values. The CIO will lead this team to maintain high standards of performance, to provide a high level of IT service across all systems, and to support collaboration with colleagues across the firm. An experienced manager, the CIO will bring strong supervisory and organizational development skills to bear in leading the team and in ensuring that its work is responsive, nimble, and supportive of IM’s strategic goals. On an ongoing basis, the CIO will evaluate the team’s work to discover opportunities for improvement and innovation, and to galvanize a commitment to continuous learning and professional development.
The CIO is also responsible for the thoughtful management and stewardship of the firm’s IT budget. The CIO must be skilled in resource management and be creative, yet judicious, with available funding. In addition, the CIO should review current contracts with vendors and consultants, as well as IT projects more broadly, to ensure that funds are being spent in alignment with the firm’s mission and goals, and that IM realizes a return on its IT investments.
Building relationships and communicating IT activities across the firm
IM is a relatively flat organization which values input and collaboration. To be successful in this culture, the CIO must ensure open, clear communication about IT priorities and projects on an ongoing basis, and must build and steward relationships with colleagues across all offices and all cohorts. As these relationships are formed, colleagues will increasingly look to the CIO for IT expertise and for new ideas on how technology can more efficiently and effectively facilitate their work. The CIO will need to reach out broadly, and play a consultative role while also empowering their IT staff to take a proactive, collaborative approach.
Staying ahead of security threats
As with most organizations, IM is keenly focused on maintaining a robust, effective information security program. IM’s ongoing efforts to transition critical company data to the cloud will require an even greater emphasis on information security looking ahead. With the threat landscape evolving and expanding every day, the next CIO will bring a strong command of security best practices and a proven track record of managing organizations to high security standards. The CIO will ensure that the firm’s data and resources are secure and that the IM community is aware of potential threats and their role in mitigating them. With the assistance of TPP Global Services, IM is currently undertaking a security audit, a project that is likely to continue through October 2018. Following up on this audit, the CIO will work with IT staff to oversee the timely implementation TPP Global Services’ recommendations.
The Ideal Candidate
IM seeks an accomplished and resourceful leader with the administrative, technical, communication, and organizational skills necessary to ensure that the firm’s technology investments most effectively facilitate its strategic objectives. At least ten years of relevant, progressively responsible professional experience is required, as is a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology or a related field. In addition, the successful candidate will bring many of the following qualifications and attributes:
- Experience leading short and long-term IT planning, ideally in a highly collaborative, matrixed environment;
- A forward thinking approach, and a track record of learning and applying the newest trends in a lean, dynamic environment;
- Visionary thinking, communication skills, and organizational savvy to contribute to high level internal deliberations and decision-making that shape the direction of the firm;
- Proven management skills, including a demonstrated ability to lead, motivate, and supervise staff charged with ensuring reliable IT services;
- Strong financial acumen and experience managing a comparable IT budget;
- Excellent time and project management skills; a record of completing tasks on time and within budget;
- Strong communication skills, both verbally and in writing;
- Experience building collaborative, trusting relationships and comfort working with colleagues across a range of locations and levels of technological expertise;
- Experience managing contracts as well as relationships with vendors and consultants;
- An appreciation for the value of a diverse and inclusive community, and the cultural competence to work effectively across multiple lines of difference;
- A commitment to Isaacson, Miller’s mission, culture, and values; and
- Resilience and stamina for the tasks at hand; flexibility, adaptability, and good humor.
Minimum Education Required
How To Apply
Nominations, inquiries and applications should be addressed electronically in confidence to:
Micah Pierce, Senior Associate
Jennifer Carignan, Internal Recruitment Manager
263 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02210
Applications should include a professional resume and 1-2 page cover letter.
Isaacson, Miller is committed to diversity in its client work and in its own hiring
and actively seeks a diverse pool of candidates in this search.