Lessons learned from first-time tech CEOs

CEOs occupy an outsize role in the technology sector: they are not only the chief executive, but mascot and technocrat, evangelist and strategist. Their every word and move is scrutinized — and often criticized — by customers, financial analysts, employees, and competitors.

No matter how well-prepared the individuals, the first appointment as CEO represents a step into the unknown. They face monumental tasks and an exponential increase in pressure, and must do so with no backstop or unbiased support structure. They must project authentic vision and optimism, and yet be hyper-aware of any messages they send.

In the white paper, Lessons learned from first-time tech CEOs, Korn/Ferry distills the insights from candid interviews with more than twenty chief executives—including many who recently took on the job. They offer their best advice on handling intense scrutiny, balancing time demands, building culture, getting honest feedback, and working with a board of directors. Their accounts of what they got right and the situations they wished they’d handled differently bring to light the once-in-a-lifetime problems that surface when a CEO first takes the reins.