CIOs are increasingly eager to put their business strategy and governance knowledge to \n\ngood use by serving on external boards of directors. Their reasons\u2014personal and \n\nprofessional growth and benefits to their companies\u2014are well founded, according to TK \n\nKerstetter, president and CEO of Board Member, which publishes Corporate Board Member \n\nmagazine.\n\nMore on CIO.com\nHow to Land a Board Position\n\nABC: An Introduction to IT Governance\n\nCIO Advice for How to Get on the Board of Directors\n\nCIO Executive Council\n\nHow to Communicate with the Board of Directors\n \nFor CIOs, "there is probably no better training than board service to understand all of the \n\nchallenges that a business has to deal with and to learn about other industries," he says. \n\n"CIOs can then take this enhanced knowledge back to their current jobs and organizations."\n\nThat's how it played out for Jeff Steinhorn, CIO at $31 billion energy company Hess. \n\nSteinhorn serves on two university boards, primarily as a give-back opportunity. "Being on \n\nthese boards has opened up a new personal network for me\u2014my fellow directors are CEOs, \n\nCFOs, consulting firm partners and other business leaders," he says. These contacts have \n\nbeen a valuable resource that Steinhorn has tapped with his own business-related questions. \n\nHis board relationship with the universities has also paid dividends in talent recruitment. \n\n"Professors know who I am and often contact me or have their top students reach out for job \n\npossibilities," he says.\n\nBut board directorships are not always bonanzas for CIOs and their companies. They can be \n\ndisappointing and draining experiences if you don't go in with clear and realistic \n\nexpectations. CIO Executive Council members \n\nparticipated in a survey on their board \n\nexperiences in August 2008, providing several caveats for those seeking a seat in other \n\ncompanies' boardrooms. (Download the results from the Connect box at council.cio.com.)\n\nGauge Your Commitment\n\nThe decision to join a board, and your ultimate satisfaction with the experience, depends on \n\ntwo factors: your passion for the organization's mission and the time you can afford to \n\ncommit. \n\nMost CIOs aren't prepared for the time and energy their commitment will actually consume. \n\nSixty percent of CEC survey respondents complain that board service is "too draining on \n\ntheir time and energy." Tim Young, vice president of IT at Bright Horizons Family Solutions, \n\nmade it a priority to understand the time commitment prior to accepting his director \n\nposition at a private Christian school in New Hampshire. "I take it very seriously and \n\nwanted to make sure that I could give 150 percent," says Young. \n\nOn average, CIOs spend 18 hours per board per quarter, including meeting, prep and travel \n\ntime, according to the survey. Monsour spends between 80 and 100 hours total per quarter on \n\nhis four boards. He feels the time crunch most at fiscal year end, when he must sign \n\ndocuments for multiple organizations that are geographically spread out. \n\nStrut Your Business Stuff\n\nCIOs bring both technology knowledge and strategic business leadership to the table. Young \n\nhas found that show casing his business acumen in the public setting of a board is a great \n\nway to demonstrate that a CIO is more than just a technologist. Indeed, the chance to flex \n\ntheir business strategist muscles is the chief personal motivation CIOs cite for joining \n\nboards, followed closely by the opportunity to gain exposure to board-level corporate \n\noversight processes. \n\nYet, the board's perception of the CIO role may be at odds with your own view of your \n\npotential contribution. Michelle Beveridge, CIO at IDP Education and a director on four \n\nboards, has had to teach some how best to use her skills. "I constantly emphasize to other \n\ndirectors that I am chief information officer, not chief technology officer, and that \n\ninformation\u2014whether it's accounting, financial or business strategy\u2014is what a \n\nbusiness runs on," she says. A quarter of survey respondents complained that the boards they \n\nserve on underutilize their contributions and involvement. \n\nBe the Governor, Not the Manager \n\nAnother major adjustment you may have to make as a director is a shift from a practitioner \n\nmind-set to one of governance. It's one of the biggest board frustrations, according to \n\nButch Leonardson, senior VP and CIO at credit union BECU. "I know I can do the job, but in \n\nthe end it's not my job to do," he says. "I have to remember that my role as a director is \n\none of governance, not management." \n\nDespite the challenges, Kerstetter is confident we'll see an uptick in CIOs serving on \n\noutside boards, especially as more are named to their CEO's management team. Technology is \n\nclearly a competitive business strategy for organizations, he says, and having this \n\nexpertise in the board room is a huge asset.