From CDO To CEO: 2021 Digital Trends

Feb 25, 2021

Marc Gasperino, digital practice leader at ON Partners, shares future insights on the evolution of  the Chief Digital Officer


Written and published by Marc Gasperino, partner at ON Partners

Where do Chief Digital Officers go from here? The answer used to be…to another CDO role.  Not anymore.  We have witnessed many Digital, IT, and Cloud Services leaders progress to top jobs over the past several years.  The ability to enhance business solutions, decrease cost and grow revenues have placed technology thought leaders in positions to be considered for CEO roles.

While we have never liked the term “digital transformation”, we are guilty of using it too often ourselves.  Executives who understand how to utilize technology to enhance the health of businesses and possess the leadership and influencing skills to transform cultures and build bridges across an array of business units are finding that they are the driving force keeping their company competitive during difficult times.

Their success is catapulting them to the top jobs.  Successful digital/technology leaders, regardless of their career roots, have proven the ability to manage both commercial and technical functions to drive innovation, enhance customer interactions and experiences, reduce costs and drive growth.

They are also rapidly gaining vast experience across business lines and strategies so even leaders entering new markets are quickly making impacts and ascending to more prominent roles.

Industry leaders like Microsoft, American Express, AT&T, Nike, and Amazon have recently named new CEOs who were once Chief Information, Digital or Cloud Services leaders and the trend will continue.

Additionally, another key 2021 digital insight provided by Gasperino was recently featured in Hunt Scanlon’s Cyber Technology Recruiting Special Issue:

“We’re seeing clients from almost every market emphasize the enhancement of their digital platforms,” notes Gasperino. “In many cases, digital business models are carrying organizations right now. Companies that underinvested in digital platforms are starting to chase lost revenues that mean more now than before and while hiring has been frozen or slowed down in other functions, digital product, engineering, data/analytics, user experience, and cybersecurity are being prioritized. Unfortunately, since many of these companies are going through difficult financial times, they are struggling to meet the compensation requirements of the talent they need.”


“Companies that have already invested and are winning the digital business wars are trying to take advantage of recruiting talent from suffering markets like travel, hospitality and retail,” Gasperino said. “They are also driving initiatives to expedite the long process of hiring and developing diverse leadership within technology functions.” ON Partners has been hired to drive several ‘diverse only’ engagements for global market leaders since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

View more digital insights, trends, and recent engagements from Marc Gasperino here.


About ON Partners

Since 2006, ON Partners is the only pure-play executive search firm building diverse C-level and board leadership teams. We rebuilt the institution of executive search for the way you work. Our approach includes present partners who engage with their clients from the first brief to the final decision, individually crafted solutions that are unique to each client, and an easier experience all around. Named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms and to the Inc. 500/5000 Lists nine times, ON Partners is consistently ranked among the top 20 retained executive search firms in the U.S.

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