According to a recent CIO article by Clint Boulton, the number of CIOs serving on Fortune 100 boards in the past three years has grown by 74 percent. In an age where digital transformation, heightened security awareness, and other trends are pushing IT to the forefront, this statistic is not surprising.
Technology is taking an increasingly larger role in board room technology discussions. Deloitte research found that 48 percent of these conversations focus on cyber risks and privacy topics, while 32 percent revolve around digital transformation and related discussion points. It follows that the leaders behind these and other technology initiatives should have a place at the table, but what steps should CIOs take to secure that alluring boardroom seat?
Boulton spoke with a number of seasoned CIOs serving on various boards who offered the following advice:
Determine where your passion lies
Of course, a board position is a prime resume booster and can help tech leaders showcase their skills, network, and increase their business acumen, among numerous other benefits. But to be selected for a board seat, executives must demonstrate passion about the industry, the way in which it’s being influenced by technology, and how the board can harness these factors for greater business advantage.
The executives with whom Boulton spoke stressed the importance of being “students of industry.” It’s not enough to simply peruse analyst reports and regulatory filings. Given the rapid pace of business change today, would-be board members must ensure they’re keeping current and demonstrate an understanding of the issues facing the tech team.
The power of the network
According to Boulton, “Many public board [positions] and other opportunities come from serving on non-profit boards.” It’s also a good idea for CIOs seeking a board room position to network with different groups and positions outside of their typical “business network.” Attending CIO-focused events is certainly valuable for growing technology-specific knowledge, but when it comes to identifying potential board opportunities CIOs would do well to broaden their network and explore other personal and professional relationships.
Know your availability
Different boards come with different expectations for time commitment and value. A CIO on the board of a public company will typically be expected to frequently provide targeted, valuable advice and attend monthly meetings. A private board tends to meet less frequently and operate in a lower pressure environment. While all boards demand that their members contribute in meaningful ways, it’s important for CIOs to determine their availability and level of desired commitment prior to seeking a seat. As one executive cautioned in the CIO piece, “You don’t want to make a mistake early on in your board career because it can hamper your progression long term.”
The climate is ripe for CIOs to take a more active role in boardroom discussions and help organizations navigate the myriad technology challenges companies are facing today.
For more advice on how to stand out and increase your chances of being named to a board, you can read the CIO piece in its entirety here.