$1m CIO salaries? Not in Godzone

Top Australian IT salaries are pretty hard to beat

Million-dollar salaries enjoyed by some Australian CIOs aren't likely to be paid in New Zealand anytime soon, says an IDC analyst.

Qantas CIO Fiona Balfour is on an A$1.2 million package and her counterpart at Australia's Commonwealth Bank, Bob McKinnon, made A$1.17 last year, including salary, bonuses and share-based remuneration.

Those stellar salaries are unlikely to be replicated this side of the Tasman and are the exception, not the norm, in Australia, says IDC Australia analyst Peter Hind.

"I suspect, given the overall size of organisations, that remuneration levels are lower in New Zealand."

Hind points to the 2004 Hays Personnel Services IT survey, which showed most New Zealand CIOs earned $110-$160,000, with $120,000 the median figure.

Their Australian colleagues' average remuneration depended on where they worked, with Sydney having a range of A$120-$210,000 and a A$190,000 median.

The numbers dropped across other cities. Perth had the same A$120,000 median but a slightly lower range of A$100-$150,000.

The figures relate to cash remuneration only, while the New Zealand figures are denominated in NZ dollars. The survey canvassed 1700 respondents from small to medium businesses to multinationals)

Hind says the package paid to Qantas' Balfour "is a reflection of the challenges she's had in the past year or two, delivering IT to an organisation that's increasingly dependent on IT and is putting an extraordinarily heavy focus on organisation efficiency, due to the competitive nature of the airline industry."

Getting a handle on what New Zealand CIOs earn isn't as easy as in Australia, where annual reports of public companies must include the remuneration of the top ten executives.

Here, the salaries of all employees earning $100,000 or more must be disclosed, in bands of $10,000, but without naming the individual.

So how can we guess some of the country's top CIOs earn? A look at Telecom's 2004 annual report shows that on September 19 2003, CIO Mark Ratcliffe was granted 133,068 share options at $5.01, most of them executable in 2006, the rest in 2005.

He also received 22,357 share rights, also mainly for 2006, but as for his salary, it's a matter of taking a guess from the salary table in the report.

Three executives are on $1 million-plus, one earns between $930,000 and $940,000, the next one down is on $820-830,000, beneath that is someone on $740-$750,000 and the seventh highest remunerated employee makes $650-$660,000. The eighth is on $600-$610,000, the ninth makes $550-$560,000 and the 10th $530-$540,000.

Whether the CIO is among Telecom's top 10 paid employees is a guess, but there are 33 on $100,000-plus at Telecom and Ratcliffe would likely be reasonably high on the list.

It could also be assumed that CIOs at our other biggest companies earn more than the norm pinpointed by Hays.

Jane Bianchini, director of Australian recruiter Ambition IT, told Computerworld Australia that "to earn in the upper quartile (a starting base of A$300,000), CIOs need a strong mixture of business and commercial acumen, customer focus and technology skills that are an inch wide rather than a mile deep.

"Typically, they'll hold an MBA or related postgraduate business qualifications," she says.

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