Corporate Boards Are Turning to Young Digital Directors

Concerned about a lack of digital expertise, many public company boards are actively recruiting digital directors, who are often decades younger than their colleagues. The directors are pursued to advise management on digital marketing strategies, business alliances, recruitment and strategies involving mobile devices, social media, online sales, data analytics and more. The shift in corporate strategy has made digital experts a hot commodity.

“The avalanche of digital activity is making directors conclude they are increasingly ill-equipped in the boardroom,” suggests Tuck Rickards, a managing director of recruiter Russell Reynolds Associates.

“Because boards at public companies want members with C-suite experience, the pool of digital candidates is small and usually doesn’t include entrepreneurial startup veterans,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “As a result, finding a digital director can take six to 12 months, which is twice as long as a typical board search, says Norbert Gottenberg, a solo high-tech recruiter.”

“Both sides are picky,” notes Gottenberg. Boards will generally vet digital prospects more carefully than other candidates, and qualified candidates “want to be on the right board.”

According to WSJ: “Thirty-seven of the 100 biggest U.S. companies lack directors with digital expertise, and only 16 have at least three such members comprising 20 percent of the board, a Russell Reynolds analysis concludes. ‘Highly digital’ boards include Cisco Systems Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and Allstate Corp.”

The article details how companies such as Home Depot, Starbucks and Williams-Sonoma have been positively impacted by appointing young digital directors to their boards.