Non-executives with technology skills are what boards are looking for

Will Astbury
by Will Astbury 27 November 2017

Harvey Nash’s Annual Alumni Board Report has revealed that digital, cyber security, and compliance skills will be the most required specialist competencies for non-executives over the next five years.

As digital disruption, transformation and issues around cyber security have become business as usual, further accentuating the need for keeping pace with change, the skills required for non-executive directors are evolving in the face of a challenging business environment.

In the report, Harvey Nash revealed results of a survey which was responded to by 826 board members from around the globe. It also interviewed 50 experienced chairs and non-executives provided deeper insight.

The survey uncovered that there is an increased focus on tightening risk management procedures, managing corporate governance, complying with tighter regulations, increased public scrutiny and an uncertain geopolitical landscape threatening economies.

As the nature and the complexity of the issues shift, it is inevitable that the role of the non-executive will have to change too. Digital is continuing to disrupt a wide range of functional areas across organisations and sectors, in some instances radically transforming them.

Alongside digital transformations that require keen oversight to not become costly mistakes, companies must now contend with the threats and risks related to cyber crime and compliance with data protection standards. Cyber security is moving relentlessly higher in terms of priority. Each new corporate or political breach of internet security underlines the need not just for corporate vigilance, but also proactive action. Considering this, more focus is being placed on picking up non-executives with a strong suite of experience and training in technology.

Simon Jones, Chair at Energy Market Intelligence, said: “In the tech sector the market moves so rapidly that non-executives are increasingly hands on in strategic thinking, picking up on risk, the value proposition and the defensibility of the offering.” agreed, stating: “Digital is increasingly on the agenda of FSTE350 companies as new technologies and consumer behaviour transform business models... In a bid to capitalise on the potential of digital, and oversee the execution of technology-led initiatives, companies are increasingly onboarding digital skills onto their boards.”

Of the 480 board members who responded about where they thought non-executive behaviours and competencies would be shifting over the next five years, interestingly only 3% of respondents were from a digital background, but the frequency of their free text responses was overwhelmingly towards a need for in depth digital knowledge.

This is great news for those CIOs that are looking for a new challenge. Whilst many are considering COO opportunities (read our latest article on the subject), non-executive roles are becoming a possibility for more CIOs.

If  you are looking for your next opportunity, click here to view the vacancies currently being advertised by our IT recruitment agency.

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Topics: C-suite