The rise of the Millennial CIO

Today, Millennials are 83.1 million strong and represent more than one quarter of the nation’s population. Between the ages of 18 and 34, these digital natives are entering the workplace with a better understanding of today’s business tools than many senior professionals.

In 1980, IBM’s first gigabyte hard drive weighed 550 pounds and cost $40,000. Today, consumers have access to three-terabyte hard drives that are 3,000 times the size, weigh less than 3 pounds and cost around $100. Given these trends, Millennials have come of age in a world in which the frontiers of technology have appeared unlimited.

According to the IBM study, “The real story behind Millennials in the workplace,” within the next five years, Millennials will wield increasing CAI_11.10_Embed_Graphicinfluence over organizations’ decisions, move into leadership roles and basically reinvent the workforce. CEOs have big concerns about whether they can find the famed fountain of Gen Y technology talent. Further, CEOs say that attracting and keeping younger workers is one of their biggest talent challenges.

So where can they find a Millennial CIO?

Today, the average CIO is a 43-year-old male who has typically been in his job for five years – he’s not between the ages of 18 and 34. The “Millennial CIO,” with a few exceptions, has not yet emerged.

Where the rising Millennial CIOs are working now

  • IT positions other than CIOTim Campos, Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Information Technology at Facebook, started his career as a software engineer at Sybase Inc.
  • A non-IT function – John Swieringa is one of the youngest CIOs in the Fortune 200 and started out in corporate finance at Dish Network.
  • Startups and smaller companies with revenues under $10B – Millennial Nathan Blecharczyk was born in 1984 and is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Airbnb.
  • Innovative employers – Companies like Starbucks, Quicken and Google are favorites of Millennials.

Where to find them

Geographically, Millennials aren’t necessarily located where you think they are. Here’s where to look:

  • Large metros, obviously. Based on population alone, five of the six largest U.S. metro areas – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Houston – are also home to the most millennials. Yet, the towns with the biggest share of millennials today are not necessarily growing this population the fastest.
  • Boomtowns. According to a Forbes article on where this generation is congregating, San Antonio, Texas is growing its millennial population at an annual rate of 9.2 percent; Riverside-San Bernardino, California at 8.3 percent; Orlando, Florida at 8.1 percent; and Miami clocks in at 7.7 percent.
  • Cities that attract college students. USA Today ranks Austin, Omaha, Oklahoma City, Seattle and Colorado Springs as top U.S. cities for Millennials based on a number of factors including economic opportunity and social factors. Although Millennials are the most educated generation in history, their degrees are predominantly in business, social sciences and history, health sciences, and education. Surprisingly, the share of Millennials choosing computer and information science majors has actually fallen over time.
  • Around the world. In India, 30 percent of the nation’s population falls into the ranks of Millennials. In Brazil, it’s 30 percent, and China is 28 percent.
  • On the Internet. Almost all Millennials (93 percent) are Internet users.

 How to connect, once you find them

While digital interaction is table stakes, what CEOs and business leaders also need to understand is the importance of meeting face to face with Millennials. This generation is more likely than others to want time in person when it comes to conducting research – whether about buying a product or service or coming to work for your company.

Related information:

2 responses to The rise of the Millennial CIO

  1. diegosonvico says:

    Reblogged this on Diego Sonvico Blog and commented:
    Blog post from Michelle Wycoff with a very interesting PoV about the Millennial CIO. The time is changing very fast, and faster every minute. On the past, we knew how the clients were going to behave for a couple of years, but know, we barely know how they will behave the next few months. Adaptability and embracing the change are more needed than ever.


  2. Gaylin Jee says:

    I suspect when companies start to change, ‘millennial CIOs’ will emerge more. Our new structures will attract a new type of CIO – we may well even have shed this type of language that is based mostly on hierarchy too.

    Corporate ladders are outliving their attractiveness for most gamechangers and playmakers. Do you agree? Fascinating stuff – thanks for this post.


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