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Why are over a third of Asia’s CIOs considering going abroad?

Updated: 12 Jul 2016


Almost half of Asia’s CIOs have worked overseas, and the majority say this has been of benefit to their career, according to a survey of 307 CIOs in Asia.

Recruiting experts Hays spoke to IT leaders about the skills, experience and attributes required to become a CIO. The findings are shared in the recruiter’s ‘DNA of a CIO Asia’ report.

One of the findings is that 44 per cent have worked outside Asia at some point in their career. Of these, the majority of their experience was in North America including Canada (49%). Today’s CIOs have also spent time working in Europe (30%), Australia & New Zealand (19%), the UK (16%), Middle East and Africa (8%) and South America (3%).

Of those who have worked overseas, 60 per cent spent more than two years abroad and the remaining 40 per cent worked outside Asia for less than two years.

The majority (70%) of these CIOs said their international experience has been of considerable benefit to their career. 27 per cent said it has been of some benefit. Only 3 per cent said their international experience has had no benefit to their career.

This must be why 38 per cent of surveyed CIOs are currently considering working outside Asia. Of these, the most sought after destinations are North America including Canada (42%), Europe (26%), Australia & New Zealand (14%), the UK (13%) and the Middle East and Africa (5%).

Exactly half (50%) of those considering working outside Asia say international experience is a must for career development. Other reasons include more opportunities in international markets (37%), better work-life balance/family reasons (34%) and that CIO roles are more varied in international markets (26%).

“Overseas experience is seen to be a key career developmental step for CIOs to take,” says Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Asia.

“For IT professionals willing to work abroad, the benefits to be gained range from gaining broader understanding of different cultures and practices, to exposure to cutting edge technologies in advanced markets.

Once these IT leaders gain the experience abroad, it’s critical that we are able to entice them back to Asia to avoid a brain drain at the most senior level.”

Returning talent is a highly prized asset to employers throughout Asia, as they bring back their globalised experience and thinking and can help fill critical shortages in the local talent pool.

Feedback from CIOs shows they too are aware of the benefits their overseas work experience can offer in terms of broadening skill sets including important soft skills such as communication, innovation and adaptability – which are all important elements of a CIO’s DNA.

About the report

Hays’ ‘DNA of a CIO Asia’ report gives aspiring CIOs an insight into what it takes to achieve a leading role in Information Technology in Asia. It is based on one-on-one interviews with 307 IT leaders and further in-depth profiles of CIOs, whose unique insights are shared throughout the report.


Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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About Hays
Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2015 the Group employed 9,420 staff operating from 248 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2015:

– the Group reported net fees of £764.2 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £164.1 million;
– the Group placed around 63,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 200,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 23% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 41% in Continental Europe & RoW (CERoW) and 36% in the United Kingdom & Ireland;
– the temporary placement business represented 58% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 42% of net fees;
– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA. 

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