When asked about which tech leadership roles were most needed in the organisation, nearly two-fifths (37 per cent) of UK SME leaders surveyed by ECI Partners identified the CISO as a top priority hire for the next five years — demonstrating the rising demand for strong security leadership in the face of evolving cyber threats.
Also in high demand amongst UK SMEs, according to the research, are chief financial officers (CFOs) and chief technology officers (CTOs), with 36 per cent and 31 per cent of respondents citing this role respectively.
Meanwhile, over one in four (28 per cent) SME leaders are looking of a chief sustainability officer.
Increasingly, organisations across the country are looking to balance the need for streamlined budgets in the face of current economic uncertainty, with that of innovation as competition continues to intensify across all industries.
Alongside this, sustainability is rising up the corporate agenda with the collective goals of combatting environmental impact, and staying aligned with the values of consumers.
“The pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine – as well as the increased vulnerability of hybrid working models – have raised the cyber security threat level for businesses.
“It is not surprising that hiring a good CISO is on most leaders’ to do lists for 2023. The right CISO will be expected to bridge the gap between the overall business strategy and cyber security risk management.
“High-profile cyber breaches this year have made it clear that security threats are becoming ever-more sophisticated – and as a result, more challenging for businesses to tackle.
“All companies are recognising the need for appropriate procedures and policies to protect the business from both internal and external risks. It is an area that investors are enhancing their capability in as well, with private equity firms hiring Heads of Cyber to support their portfolios with their cyber resilience.”
Needs by company size
The ECI Partners report also reveals that company size plays a key role in terms of the type of roles needed, with smaller businesses are more likely to need more finance-focused senior roles, while larger companies are prioritising leadership elsewhere.
Smaller firms were found to be more likely to need more finance-focused senior roles – 43 per cent are looking for a CFO, while 39 per cent want to hire a chief revenue officer to support growth strategies.
By contrast, the largest businesses surveyed are on the lookout for roles such as chief revenue officers (42 per cent), CISOs (40 per cent), chief data officers (33 per cent) and CTOs (30 per cent).
ECI Partners surveyed 513 UK CEOs, founders and managing directors of fast-growth SME businesses, across multiple industries including education, financial services, healthcare and retail for its Growth Characteristics study.
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