HOW DIGITAL TALENT CAN LAND A BOARD ROLE
I recently met an incredible female digital CTO, who had always assumed that one has to “get asked” to join a prominent board. This otherwise 'go-getter' had a mindset that joining a board was unlike the pursuit of executive roles. She felt that in the case of board roles one needn’t actively search for such appointments since once at a certain seniority and standing, the roles will just be offered. This might have been the situation in the past, but things are changing.
Boards have realised that they shouldn’t just be reliant on the “old boys network” or “black book of contacts” of a particular headhunter, and should look outside past search norms in order to get a different perspective and fresh thinking on the board as this adds more value to their business and positively impacts the bottom line.
This is the new definition of diversity – the distinctive skills and experiences that boards require, tailored to a specific company’s strategy and other requirements - no matter what your gender, ethnicity, age, etc.
It is a hurdle that it is still prevalent, in that when boards hire, they often mandate a headhunter to exclusively conduct the search. As a consequence, this headhunter seeks out a candidate matching exactly the client requirements, which often includes the vaunted required skill – 'previous board experience!’ Ouch!
My advice to all the board-ready digital leaders out there is to NOT be discouraged from applying to a role if you lack board experience - as is the case on Nurole, where we give you the flexibility to put yourself forward for roles that you might not have otherwise been approached for.
Previous board experience is often a requirement because boards seek out a “safe pair of hands”, or in plain speaking - someone who has proven themselves at board level.
However, we all can appreciate it is not rocket science to sit on a board, and it should be a challenge handily managed by astute digital leaders.
What’s the first step?
A good starting point for a board search is to have a strong conviction / self-belief in your area of expertise. One also needs to be a good listener, have good judgement, be an effective coach, mentor, sounding board, and have a very strong motivation to achieve the best for the business along with the associated employee team.
Digital skills needed on boards
Businesses seeking transformation through technology need someone who gets the bigger picture and has the long term vision to sit on the board, to ensure the CEO and the shareholders have a competent voice to listen to who will guide through this challenging transition.
New skill requirements that boards increasingly need involving technology-related skills include experience as a technologist or expertise in: digital marketing, cybersecurity, data science, social media, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, and many other similar areas of tech expertise.
If you have a relatively senior background in one of the above listed areas, then now is the best time to be considered as a first-time board member.
If you'd like to get in touch about this, or recommend someone else who you would like to see on a VC/PE-backed, listed or non-for-profit board, you can contact me here.