Tab icon

Technology, recessions, transformations & CIOs

Calendar icon 21st November 2022

By Helder Martins. Helder is a Director at Zeren, and manages our Interim Technology hiring vertical.

As a CIO, you will fundamentally agree that technology is there to solve real-life problems.


Let’s think about this. In a time where we’re looking at a possible recession, David Solomon from Goldman Sachs, recently said “there’s a “good chance” of a recession in the United States and confirmed an overhaul of the bank’s structure after its profits almost halved.” In The Times, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s boss, warns about economic recession as reported in the Independent so the question is, how to prepare for this?


Since we’re talking about real-life problems let’s compare this with a household budget. Here, a downturn that affects the household budget requires an adjustment to the new reality. It’s about making adjustments that maintain the level of comfort where possible, without compromising on those items vital to the well-being of the household. Any superficial costs are likely to be the first to be cut. In the UK, The Guardian talks about streaming services being cancelled as households tighten their belts.


The above all sounds logical, right? And since we’re talking about the real world, companies don’t act much differently, large or small, the goal is the same. Brace and prepare for impact. Minimise damage, avoid risk, maintain the company’s well-being and deal with it.


But how do we do it?

Here’s where transformation comes in. See below the rise of the use of the word ‘Transformation’ since the 1940s; a consequence of the ending of World War II (2 Sept 1945) and when the world had to transform.


 Transformation Over Time

No alt text provided for this image

Image by Google.


Transformation implies changing and adapting to a new reality. As we have just seen, this change can happen in many different domains, but with the same goal, keep the business going, and the company healthy, ready for better days to come, because they will come. These things are cyclical.


This brings us to organisational transformation and technology transformation, which usually go hand in hand but not necessarily at the same time, nor is it mandatory that they both must happen.


However, in technology whenever there’s a crisis it can also mean the opportunity to make people’s life easier and better. We then have IT transformations occurring in both large and small businesses. This can be either evaluating the current IT landscape, processes, teams, methodologies, and systems. Making sure there aren’t platforms overlapping and delivering the same solutions. Why have Teams, WhatsApp, and Slack for example?


Remember the household? It’s a consolidation exercise, where the IT function gets optimised but also leaner, you clean up and organise, keep the essentials and sometimes even build better solutions because crises are synonyms for the opportunity.

Here’s where the CIO comes in since “the Chief Information Officer (CIO) oversees the people, processes, and technologies within a company’s IT organization to ensure they deliver outcomes that support the goals of the business” as described by Gartner.


The CIO will put these aspects in place and digital transformation will form a large part of their role, making sure that a cost-efficient robust infrastructure is there to serve the business purposes, whilst being the main driver for innovation. The CIO will strategise, plan and deliver all the while remaining cost-efficient, and still trying to bring new revenue streams to the table.


The CIO usually reports to the CEO and can work closely with the COO or CFO, and these leaders can become allies supporting their initiatives and allocating budgets accordingly, however, the Transformation Directors are equally important as they will be a crucial element in delivering these transformations.


In times when budgets will have to be maxed out, considering an Interim solution is critical to keep businesses going and enable that necessary transformation. Whether this is a full-time, part-time, or fractional type of work, Interim solutions will cover it.


So, whether you’re a CIO looking for a new role or a Transformation Director, there might be a company there looking for you and ZEREN will help you connect the dots. If you’re a company looking to hire a CIO, feel free to reach out to me and we can discuss what type of solution will best suit your needs.



Zeren exists to empower the world’s change makers. We do this by building high-performing teams in the world’s most innovative businesses, to accelerate growth by connecting visionary leaders and ambitious talent.


We are a leading global Executive Search & Recruitment firm with teams and offices in San Francisco, Houston, New York, London, Berlin and Frankfurt.


We partner with both high-growth, VC/PE-backed businesses and ambitious Corporate brands placing senior leaders, building exceptional teams, or providing critical interim and consulting talent.