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Essential skills for digital leaders



The ideal Chief Digital Officer (CDO) may look different for every company, but a recent study by PwC’s Strategy& has revealed that having a technology background isn’t a necessity for the role.

It might come as a surprise for many that a technology background is not generally the No 1 requirement, but less than a third of CDOs have a technology background at 2,500 of the world’s largest global public companies. So what’s needed if not a technology background?

Political acumen

Digital transformation usually involves reconciling business goals and merging them to create a clear journey of how the company will move forward to digitally achieve them. For this reason, leaders need to unify roles and units within a business using political astuteness to identify and bridge priorities which may not immediately appear to align.


Though digital leaders are usually brought in when a company is taking steps to modernize and integrate more flexible systems that can future proof an organization, CDOs will almost always have to grapple with legacy structures in one way or another.

While tech expertise may help to ground focus or achieve buy-in, it’s more important to be able to focus on delivering the overarching digital agenda and prioritise projects that will carry the company through the transformation. This requires grit, perseverance and some smooth talking.


Collaborating with others to create a digital agenda that unifies goals might not be enough if you don’t have the talent to support its follow through. Being surrounded by other talented digital experts is a necessity.

PwC’s study revealed that 46  percent of CDOs are external hires. This might be because those close to the business can’t always take an unbiased view to candidates while engaging new talent. Someone with the ability to take an outside look at a company talent pool with a network of talented individuals to fill any needs might seamlessly fill any gaps in expertise that might be what’s required to bring any digital plans to fruition.

360Leaders arms the industry’s top innovating companies with digital leaders of tomorrow. If you are a founder of an early start-up or global enterprise looking to invest in talent in the digital or technology sector, please get in touch.

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