Boards need technology expertise and diverse skill sets

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24 September 2014 | 0

CIOs can improve their performance by serving as non-executive directors away from their own organisations, while companies not arming their boards with technical skills are under serious threat.

That is one of the views of Kim Stevenson, the Intel CIO who serves as a board member for both Cloudera and Riverbed as well as overseeing chip manufacturer Intel’s 6,000 strong worldwide IT organisation.

“Part of being a successful executive in any capacity is having a great understanding of not just your own company and customers, but other industries that are adjacent and other companies because you can start to see patterns,” Stevenson said.

“For CIOs to participate on the board of another company gives you that external perspective at a very high level that is very broad and that you can bring back.

“In the two capacities I serve I bring back learnings of what’s happening in those companies and those industries and apply them to my day job which makes me better.

“The benefit to a company that’s building its board is obvious – most industries are being disrupted by technology, if not all of them. Cyber security is a major issue and most boards do not consist of those who have a deep technical understanding of what’s possible and how you can improve business operations through technology, and the cyber security, and threats and liabilities associated with that.”

If CIOs are not supported in any endeavours to serve on internal boards, Stevenson believes that a period in a different business unit can be equally beneficial.

“Part of my career I spent on the business side which has made me a better IT person, but I’d still describe myself as an IT professional,” said Stevenson. “I’ve been in IT most of my career but experience outside of IT helps round you out.”

While technical expertise is necessary for a board to function efficiently and keep the organisation on top of emerging and disruptive technologies, diversity is also crucial.

“The best boards are made up of people that have a diverse set of experiences that can be leveraged by management to help the company perform competitively,” she said.

“I think more and more boards will end up with technical individuals because the opportunities for the company are too great, and the liabilities are only going up.”


Edward Qualtrough, IDG News Service

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