How to win over your board of directors

A 15-minute board presentation can make or break a promising career. Leaders offer CIOs advice on meeting board needs and expectations and winning their lasting support and respect.

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Veteran CIOs can remember a time when they had to fight for the board’s attention, eager for a seat at the strategic table. Today, all eyes are on IT as technology has taken center stage in all aspects of corporate performance.

“Even prior to COVID-19, the convergence of IT and OT required CIOs to evolve — as boardrooms increasingly prioritized how digitization and intelligent industry could transform their business,” says Brian Bronson, president of Americas & APAC at Capgemini Engineering. “With the arrival of COVID-19, that landscape has only accelerated, as technology is integrating into every facet of a company’s operations. This convergence can be the difference in speeding up revenue growth, improving profits, and staving off the financial challenges that COVID-19 created — hence the significant impact it has on the board.”

More CIOs are reporting to the board than ever before, says Martha Heller, CEO of technology executive search firm Heller Search Associates, driven by three factors: increased information security concerns and needs, the disruptive impact of digital technology, and the need for data and analytics as a core element of the business. “Boards want to hear CIOs discuss how they are managing investments and operations in all three areas,” Heller says.

Indeed, technology/cybersecurity is the third most important topic for boards today, just behind corporate strategy and CEO, according to JWC Partners’ 2021 survey of board directors. Respondents indicated that technology/cybersecurity would be among the top two most important topics in two years (just behind environmental/social/governance issues).

“Boards are increasingly getting more tech-savvy to help guide their companies to make the right decisions,” says Matthew Guarini, senior research director at Forrester Research. “As such, this can lead to greater demands on tech leadership to ensure that they provide the right insights and expertise.”

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