There’s nothing inherently wrong with a CIO being on the board of directors for another company. After all, you have both the technical expertise and the business savvy to offer useful advice and (at least for startups courting venture capital money) in many cases your name means a lot when it’s on the advisory board. At what point, however, does this present a conflict of interest?
If the vendor is a general one, then it’s likely that your company will want to buy products or services from someone just like them. Even if you keep your heart pure and your ethical distance from conflicts… how do you deal with the appearance of dillydallying?
As Meridith Levinson reported a few weeks ago, Cliff Dodd resigned from Kaiser Permanente apparently because he was on the board of the company that recommended the failing package in question. Where do you draw the line — as a manager, or someone who needs to rely on one?