Hordes of CIOs are moving out of the backroom and making steady strides towards the front office. Fired by a keen desire to elevate their position in the organizational pyramid, CIOs are striving to work across the entire mosaic of business. They are sniffing out opportunities to get closely involved with the execution of business.
Joining the board is one such career defining opportunity. Not only does it broaden the horizons of a CIO but it also acquaints one with various aspects of business. It provides a CIO an opportunity to chisel his skillsets and be business savvy by looking at business execution from close quarters.
“Board level participation can alter the business perspective of a CIO,” says Vijay Sethi, CIO and VP-IS and HR, Hero MotoCorp. When Sethi gained access to the corporate board at HMCMM, he went through an enriching experience.
Avinash Arora, director-Supply Chain Management, India, New Holland Tractors spent time in the corporate core management team of the company (MNCs don’t have a board) and reflects the same opinion. “Being a part of the core management team helped me identify the levers of business growth. I learnt what is important to business and how business performance can be enhanced by applying technology solutions,” he says.
The learning Arora imbibed during this stint helped him nurture critical business ideas. “I have employed cloud applications to provide cost effective solutions to business and expanded our reach to customers,” he says.
Moving to the board position helps a CIO shed the ROI oriented myopic view of business decisions. “One needs to analyze each proposal not just on traditional ROI / NPV/ Business value parameters but way beyond including sustainability,” says Sethi.
Sethi’s participation at the board level made him realise the fact that as a board member there are so many responsibilities that go beyond being a business function head. “As a board member it is about the value enhancement of all stakeholders, corporate governance, compliance and risk management, and performance evaluation of the organization as a whole rather than individual departments,” he says.
Joining the board gives the CIO a chance to hobnob with the industry stalwarts. It exposes them to the working styles of one of the best and the sharpest minds in the business world. CIOs can be right in the middle of the execution of business and acquire a rich learning from the cross pollination of ideas.
“Independent directors on the board bring a lot of varied experience and I find interacting with them as a great learning experience. Overall it has made me a more holistic professional,” Sethi says.