Compliance

10 hot executive jobs in 2014

January 3, 2014: 11:23 AM ET

Most wanted: Management talent in regulatory compliance, big data, and online security. Here's where the biggest demand will be this year.

FORTUNE -- Just as they were in 2013, companies now are "nervously sitting on over $1 trillion in cash," says a new report from global executive search firm CTPartners. One big difference: This year, they'll spend more of that pile to hire executive talent in some key strategic jobs. "Technology's impact is being felt more than ever," notes CTPartners CEO Brian Sullivan -- and in more kinds of jobs than ever, too, including human resources and health care.

"Big data will only grow bigger, as organizations race to collect and monetize information to gain competitive advantage," according to his firm's 18th annual survey on which executives companies are trying to hire. The fast growth of cloud computing and online education in the past couple of years will accelerate this year, the report says, as will demand for cybersecurity experts who can oversee stronger defenses against hackers. Just ask Target (TGT), whose security debacle at the peak of the holiday shopping season gave plenty of other companies -- and not just retailers -- cause for concern.

Expertise in other areas, especially compliance with stiffer federal regulations in the U.S., is on employers' wish list this year, too. Here are 10 of the hottest executive jobs now, in four fast-growing fields:

Technology:

1. Chief information officer. "It may sound old hat, but the role's evolution makes it more critical to companies than it's ever been," notes Sullivan. The importance of data, mobile, digital, and analytics has moved CIOs "from the back room to the boardroom," he adds -- a shift reflected in the fact that many companies now add senior vice president or another executive title to the job.

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2. Chief marketing officer. "The CMO job is rapidly evolving," the CTPartners report notes, as head marketing mavens "increasingly need the ability to show that marketing is actually driving revenue and growth." In big demand right now are "digitally savvy marketing leaders who can show they're capable of developing new business models."

3. Chief risk officer/cybersecurity officer. Protecting any company's digital assets "has never been more important -- or more difficult," the report notes, adding that the ability to assure customers their data is secure will be "a top-three corporate priority" in 2014 and beyond.

4. Head of M-commerce. In retail and elsewhere, mobile commerce "has become the new e-commerce," the report says, as consumers get ever more reliant on smartphones and tablets. With new and more sophisticated apps coming online all the time, "executives who understand mobile user behavior and needs will be in demand."

Financial services:

5. Head of compliance. As banks and other big financial companies grapple with increased government oversight, the industry can't find enough executives well versed in handling regulation. "Total compensation for this role is up about 25% in the past two years," Sullivan says, adding that the average size of teams in this area "haven't just grown, they have doubled or tripled in size."

6. CFO/finance director, China. The combination of rising costs and vast potential have made China a particularly tricky market, boosting demand for executives who understand how to manage fast growth while keeping profits up, "particularly in the health care and consumer goods sectors," the report says.

7. Chief digital officer, insurance. "The insurance industry is emerging from the dark ages, with insurers' relationships with consumers increasingly beginning online," the report notes. In order to keep up with the almost unlimited information available online, Sullivan adds, "insurers need to embrace holistic analytics, not just risk or pricing or insight analytics" as they did in simpler times.

Health care:

8. Chief strategy officer. Health care reform could turn out to be a revenue gold mine for insurance companies, Sullivan observes, but "compliance with the seemingly daily changes in the rules has proven to be a major challenge." Small wonder, then, that health care companies are looking for executives who can handle that while also figuring out how U.S. companies can expand in markets overseas.

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9. Vice president of market access. Reaching new customers "remains a hot topic in bio, pharma, device, and diagnostic companies, as they are behind the curve in addressing the ever-changing routes to market," the report says, adding that new technology-driven complexities in distribution call for "a complete rethink by market professionals who understand the new complexities."

Human resources:

10. Chief human resources officer. "This post has been gaining traction over the past few years but is hotter than ever" in 2014, according to the report, since "CEOs increasingly recognize that they need more from their people to gain a competitive advantage."

It's worth noting that big data is gaining ground in HR, too. One more up-and-coming job title for 2014: Head of HR analytics, who reports to the HR chief and, the report says, "helps HR become more scientific in using data to drive smart business decisions" -- including whom to hire for which job.

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