CIOs answer IT Brew questions about the job market, economy, and the tech sector as a whole

CIOs tell IT Brew they are feeling bullish about the tech sector.
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· 4 min read

How does the C-suite view layoffs, budget cuts, and the short-term future of the IT industry? IT Brew asked CIOs from around the industry about their outlook, and where they see the tech job market moving in the next six months.

These conversations have been edited for length and clarity.

With layoffs and budget cuts, it seems inevitable that we’re headed toward some belt-tightening across the industry. What do you see in the future for the IT side of things?

Rich Fusinski, H.W. Kaufman Group: I think [it seems like] there were a lot of these big tech companies that hired because there was seemingly no end to appetite, when in reality, we all scaled to what we needed. That just didn’t happen in perpetuity, the growth curve didn’t happen in perpetuity. So, they’re resizing back to what reality is.

It doesn’t matter what you are, you can be in insurance, you could be in banking, you can be in automotive, you can be in anything: The future of almost all business is digital. So, if you stop making those investments, or if you’re cutting back, one of your competitors—or many of them—are not.

It’s not like you’re kicking the can down the road saying, “I can pick this back up later.” For every year that you’re not making that investment and your competition is, you’re losing.

How are you seeing the economic uncertainty affecting job-seekers? What are you hearing from applicants, and what are they doing differently?

Angela Baskerville, AT&T: One of the reasons that the competitive landscape continues to accelerate, if you will, [is] because there is instability [among] talent about how it affects them personally. Who are they to believe? Are they to believe that we are on the precipice of a recession, or that inflation data is going to show that it’s increasing or decreasing?

That drives the consumer, or the talent, to instability, and feeling like what that means to them personally is that they have to create the best situation for themselves.

That causes the talent that we’re seeking to double down on what they’re looking for, whether that’s compensation, whether that’s culture, whether that is [environmental, social, and corporate governance].

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How are you managing belt-tightening? What does that look like from your end in the C-suite?

Sheryl Haislet, Vertiv: One of the things that I do is divide a base budget from a project budget. There are certain things that you always have to pay for—software, hardware, that’s part of your environment, that you have to just keep the lights on. Then there’s project budgets.

Our project budget can range anywhere from zero to a billion, or whatever you want it to be based on what you can afford. So, what we do is say [is] “Okay, here’s the base, and we continue to try to drive the base down as much as possible—what we call fixed cost constant—and figure out ways to save there.

Project investments can vary dramatically based on what you can actually afford that year.

How do you feel about the general health of the IT sector and the tech industry as a whole? Is this still a good time to get into tech?

Fletcher Previn, Cisco: I feel very optimistic about the tech sector. Certainly, in my own particular instance at Cisco, I feel very, very optimistic about the future.

More broadly, there’s been a kind of schadenfreude about reporting on the downturn in tech. Maybe that’s because things have been so good for so long in tech, that there’s some sort of satisfaction in reporting when people have layoffs.

But the reality is, there are still a lot of opportunities for great jobs and great careers in tech as a profession. It’s one that is never boring. Technology is always moving forward. I heard somebody once say [that] working in tech is like being a brain surgeon if they invented a new brain every 18 months.

Ultimately, it is the transformation engine for just about every single company out there, because every company is a digital company, whether they identify themselves as one or not. Our industry is going to continue to grow, and I feel extremely optimistic about it.—EH

Do you work in IT or have information about your IT department you want to share? Email [email protected].

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to cloud computing, IT Brew covers the latest trends shaping business tech in our 4x weekly newsletter, virtual events with industry experts, and digital guides.