Sastry Durvasula, Chief Information & Client Services Officer at TIAA, joins host Maryfran Johnson for this CIO Leadership Live interview, jointly produced by and the CIO Executive Council. They discuss big tech innovations, advancing AI horizons, client tech labs and more.

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Commerce Commission Chief Information Officer Suzanne Pullman on taking on the role of CIO just as NZ went into lockdown, why she favours servant leadership, and the challenge of getting more women to consider IT as a career.

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CIO Leadership Live Australia speaks to experienced education and technology executive, Christine (Chrissy) Burns who last month started her role as chief information officer at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Burns talks to CIO Australia’s editor-in-chief, Byron Connolly, about the impact COVID has had on the education sector, and the key cloud migration and student experience projects she is leading at UNSW. She also discusses how she will apply the lessons she learned during her career in this new role, as well as her thoughts on the future of education in a hybrid working world.

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Foodstuffs North Island Chief Digital Officer Simon Kennedy on the messy nature of transformation, the importance of working cross functionally, and how the organisation is using internships and tech accelerator programmes to develop new talent.

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Auckland International Airport Chief Technology and Marketing Officer Jonathan Good on what he learned from starting his own business, dealing with turbulent times in the travel industry, and the importance of making transformation intentional to unlock human capability.

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RedShield Chief Technology Officer Sam Pickles on being mindful of power struggles when changing legacy systems, keeping stakeholders engaged along the way, and why continuous learning is vital at every stage of your career.

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Mike Potter, the former interim executive director, digital transformation and group CIO of utility company Thames Water, has been named chief digital officer by the British government.

Potter has held senior IT roles in both public and private sector over the last 20 years, including as interim chief digital information officer at the HMRC in 2017. The appointment was approved by now-interim prime minister Boris Johnson, and announced at the same time as the government’s appointment of Chief People Officer Fiona Ryland.

The announcement of the new chief digital officer comes after many months of external recruitment. As previously reported on, Joanna Davidson plans to retire after her 18-month stint as the executive director of the Cabinet Office’s Central Digital and Data office (CDDO), and recruitment for her successor was overseen by a panel comprising civil service COO Alex Chisholm, CDDO non-executive chair Paul Wilmott, and Gina Gill, CDIO at the Cabinet Office.

Potter’s primary duties will include owning the vision and strategy for digital, data, and technology (DDaT) for government, and providing the “professional leadership of the DDaT function, including setting cross-government workforce strategy”, according to an earlier job posting for the position.

The announcement comes weeks after the announcement of the UK’s latest digital strategy, which promises to deliver better citizen experiences, improved accessibility, shared data between central departments, and to upskill civil servants – but which left many public sector technology leaders with a sense of deja vu.

Potter will lead a team of 200 specialists in the CDDO and will report to Chisholm. The CDDO is responsible for setting DDaT strategy in collaboration with government digital leaders, and for monitoring the health of the delivery of major digital and data programmes. In recent months, it has actively tried to improve collaboration across government departments, and to reduce work duplication.

“As the new Government Chief Digital Officer, Mike will be harnessing the unprecedented opportunities for digital technologies and data across the Civil Service, strengthening UK Government delivery both immediately and in the years to come,” Chisholm said in a statement.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to take on the role of Government CDO and I’m delighted to be returning to public service at such an important time,” added Potter, who has also formerly held senior roles in Cabinet Office, the Environment Agency and NHS Blood and Transplant.

“I’m looking forward to working with colleagues across the civil service to continue to grow the digital skills we need for the future and deliver the roadmap for digital and data.”

Government IT

What is a CAO?

A chief administrative officer (CAO) is a top-level executive responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of an organization and the company’s overall performance. CAOs are responsible for managing an organization’s finances as well as creating goals, policies, and procedures for the company to help it operate more efficiently and compliantly. They typically report directly to the CEO and act as a go-between for other senior-level management and the CEO.

CAOs often manage administrative staff and are also sometimes responsible for overseeing the accounting staff. These executives have a strong focus on policy, procedure, profits, and ensuring that all regulatory rules and regulations are followed. They work closely with departments and teams within the organization to ensure they’re operating effectively and to determine whether there is room for improvement. If a department is underperforming, a CAO can step in and identify what areas need to change or be improved to turn things around.

In addition to overseeing the daily operations of a company, CAOs also must have an eye on long-term strategic projects. That might include developing long-term budgets, developing and monitoring KPIs, training new managers, and keeping a pulse on changing regulatory and compliance rules.

Chief administrative officer responsibilities

The main responsibilities of a CAO are to ensure the company is operating efficiently daily, and to oversee relevant high-level management and other personnel. The CAO role can be found in several industries — most commonly in tech, finance, government, education, and healthcare. It’s a role that requires high-level decision-making, leadership skills, and strong communication skills. CAOs work closely with leaders across the organization and need to be able to communicate to the CEO how various departments are functioning within the company.

CAOs should have strong presentation skills and the ability to communicate complex business and financial information to other stakeholders in the company. It’s a role that requires an understanding of change management and an ability to juggle several complex projects at once. CAOs need a solid relationship built on trust with the CEO of the organization because they will work closely with them to improve business efficiency. 

The responsibilities of a CAO differ depending on industry, but general expectations for the role include:

Setting, monitoring, and managing KPIs for departments and management staffFormulating strategic, operational, and budgetary plansWorking closely with and training new managers in administrative rolesMentoring and coaching administrative staff within the organizationPerforming manager evaluationsWorking closely with C-suite and board of directorsStaying up to date on the latest changes to government rules and regulations related to administrative tasks, accounting, and financial reporting

Chief administrative officer skills

While skills differ by industry, CAOs are expected to have the following general skillset:

Strategic planningTeam leadershipLegal complianceFinancial reportingRegulatory complianceBudget managementStrategic project managementRisk management/risk controlAbility to generate “effective reports and give presentations”Knowledge of IRS laws, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), Security Exchange Commission (SEC) rules and regulations, and internal audit procedures within the company

Chief administrative officer vs. COO

The role of CAO is very similar to that of a chief operating officer (COO), as both are responsible for overseeing the operations of a business. The COO role, however, is more commonly found in companies that manufacture physical products, whereas the CAO role is better suited to companies focused on offering services. It’s not uncommon for a company to have both roles, depending on business needs.

Another difference between a CAO and COO is that CAOs oversee day-to-day operations and identify opportunities to improve departments, teams, and management within the organization. If a department isn’t performing well, a CAO will often take over as acting head of the department, working at the helm of the team or department to get a firsthand look at how it’s functioning and how it could be improved.  

Alternatively, chief operating officers typically focused more on the overall operations of a business, rather than the day-to-day operations of specific departments or teams. They’re responsible for overseeing projects such as choosing new technology upgrades, finding new plants for manufacturing, and overseeing physical supply chains.  

At companies that have both a CAO and a COO, the two often work closely together to develop success metrics and goals for the company. Their roles are related enough that these two executives will have to strategize together when it comes to budgets or implementing regulatory and compliance rules. Both the CAO and COO have an eye on operations and efficiency, just in a different scope and area of the business.

Chief administrative officer salary

The average annual salary for a chief administrative officer is $122,748 per year, according to data from PayScale. Reported salaries for the role ranged from $67,000 to $216,000 depending on experience, certifications, and location. Entry-level CAOs with less than one year experience reported an average salary of $90,000, while those with one to four years’ experience reported an average annual salary of $93,174. Midlevel CAOs with five to nine years’ experience reported an average annual salary of $113,543, and experienced CAOs with 10 to 19 years’ experience reported an average annual salary of $133,343. Late career CAOs with over 20 years’ experience reported an average annual salary of $149,279.

IT Leadership