CIO Pay Jumps as Tech Moves Closer to Core of Business

Compensation for chief information officers is rising by double digits as companies seek out leaders who can exploit tech’s growing business possibilities, a trend that only accelerated during the pandemic.

For this year, average CIO salaries leapt 21% to $287,500 from last year, according to data from staffing firm Mondo. Experienced CIOs at large companies, however, can expect to earn $350,000 in base salary, up from $300,000 last year, the data shows.

Mondo pulls and analyzes data from 2,500 U.S. placements it makes every year, and then pairs that data with insights from talent specialists in the field.

Mondo estimates that salaries for chief information security officers rose at the same rate as those for CIOs—21%—between this year and last. By contrast, it estimates that salaries for chief marketing officer roles increased 15% in the same period.

Experts attribute the salary hike to the increasingly critical role of the CIO within business. Since the onset of Covid-19, corporate tech leaders have had to accelerate initiatives around the cloud, automation and the supply chain, while smoothing the shift to remote and hybrid work.

“More companies are realizing the value of bringing technology and deeper technology into their companies,” said

Scott Spradley,

executive vice president and chief technology and automation officer at

Tyson Foods Inc.

“And so they’re willing to pay more because they realize it affects the bottom line.”

Marianna Tessel,

executive vice president and chief technology officer of

Intuit Inc.

since 2019, said the pandemic accelerated the trend. “Technology was pushed more into the spotlight,” she said.

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Trends around cloud computing have also taken the CIO role out of the back office and “closer to the nature of the business itself,” said

Edward Stadolnik,

a partner and leader of the North America technology and digital officer practice at Spencer Stuart.

Milind Wagle,

CIO of digital infrastructure company

Equinix Inc.,

said that CIOs today are expected to be both tech and business leaders. “There’s a convergence of business and IT strategy more than ever before,” he said.

“Definitely [these] roles are becoming more strategic,” said Ms. Tessel. That’s because “technology is becoming part of everything we do.”

Although Ms. Tessel’s base salary dropped to $700,000 in fiscal 2021 from $726,923 in fiscal 2020, her total compensation increased to $12,692,385 from $11,016,322, mostly due to an increase in stock awards, public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show.

Public companies are required to report the compensation of their highest-paid executives to the SEC. CIOs and other tech chiefs increasingly are appearing in those filings, said

Dennis Baden,

global managing partner of the technology officers practice at

Heidrick & Struggles.

Proxy filings from

Visa Inc.

show total compensation for

Rajat Taneja,

president of technology, was $17,131,764 in fiscal 2021, up from $14,322,301 the previous year and $11,810,570 in fiscal 2019. His base salary over the two years rose to $1,100,019 from $900,047.

“As one of the core pillars of our company strategy, the technology organization is an important blueprint for Visa’s long-term success,” Mr. Taneja said.

Rajesh Kalathur,

president of John


Financial and CIO of Deere & Co., received $6,307,975 in total compensation in fiscal 2021, according to SEC filings, slightly below the $6,512,641 he earned in fiscal 2020, but up from the $5,437,459 he earned in fiscal 2019. His base salary rose to $818,855 in 2021 from $721,732 in 2019.

The company said Mr. Kalathur was not available for comment.

Disparities between supply and demand are also driving up CIO salaries, recruiters said.

“Candidly, I’ve never seen a market like the one we’re in right now,” said

Craig Stephenson,

Korn Ferry

senior client partner and managing director, North America CIO/CTO Practice, adding that CIOs are being offered salary increases of over 30% to jump from one company to another.

Tyson’s Mr. Spradley says the number of recruiter calls has “gone up significantly.”

Prasad Ramakrishnan,

CIO at software company


said he gets two to three recruiter calls a month. “Some of them are so persistent,” he said.


Tom Peck

left his post as chief information and digital officer at Ingram Micro Inc. to take up the same job at

Sysco Corp.

in January 2021, he clinched a base salary of $325,000, according to SEC filings. His total compensation last year was $3,526,544 and included $39,306 in expenses for relocation to Houston.

The company said Mr. Peck was not available for comment.

Mr. Stephenson said the higher valuation companies are putting on CIOs is trickling down to tech talent throughout the organization. Salaries for cybersecurity roles and chief information security officers are rising at rates similar to those for CIOs, he said.

According to

Emmeline Kuhn,

who co-leads the operations and IT practice at executive search firm Leathwaite, “These roles are definitely becoming more valued.”

Write to Isabelle Bousquette at [email protected]

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