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The scandal effect

The scandal effect

It used to be that a US company, especially if it was in the Fortune 500, could lure a new CIO with little more than an attractive compensation package and a handshake meeting with the CEO.

It used to be that a US company, especially if it was in the Fortune 500, could lure a new CIO with little more than an attractive compensation package and a handshake meeting with the CEO. But today, CIO candidates are looking at potential suitors -- particularly public companies -- with a sharply critical eye. They're demanding meetings with boards of directors and insisting on clauses that provide generous severance packages should some preexisting condition cause the company to crash. They even want to study the latest audit and know who is doing the accounting. (Is that you, Mr. Andersen?)

"The impact of Enron, WorldCom and others has shown that solid due diligence and business process management reviews are back in vogue," says CIO job-seeker Edward Nesta.

Recruiters report that Nesta's account is not an isolated one. Sept. 11 made job-hoppers more cautious. Add to that the chilling effect that recent corporate scandals have had on executive recruiting, and you begin to see that CIOs have good company. "There's a lot of reticence out there. What it boils down to is people are being a lot more cautious, and they're hesitant to make a move without a lot more guarantees," says Robert McHale, who heads up Korn/Ferry International's mid-Atlantic CIO practice in Tysons Corner, Va.

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