There are many reasons for Chief Information Officers to be eager to join an external Board of Directors. Most notably, by serving on an external board, a CIO has many more opportunities for personal and professional growth. In Carrie Matthews' article, "Corporate Boards: What You Need to Know Before Joining One," she interviews several CIOs regarding their experiences as board members.
"There is probably no better training than board service to understand all the challenges that a business has to deal with and to learn about other industries," TK Kerstetter, President and CEO of Board Member, states. By serving as a board member in an external industry, CIOs can acquire new information and knowledge that can be adopted into their own business.
Jeff Steinborn, CIO of Hess energy company, is another CIO who has had a valuable experience as an external board member. Steinborn, who serves on two separate University boards, believes his experiences have become an integral part of his business knowledge.
"Being on these boards has opened up a new personal social network for me," Steinborn said. His board consists of major business leaders and consultants who have provided a wealth of information for his role at Hess.
Also, for Steinborn's particular situation, being on the board at a university has become a talent acquisition asset. "Professors know who I am and often contact me or have their top students reach out to me for career opportunities," he claims.
But Matthews claims it is critically important for CIOs to gauge their own interest. Joining a board of directors is often time consuming, especially towards the end of financial quarters. If one is not committed or interested in the board's objectives, then disappointment and stress will be unavoidable.
Tim Young, VP of Information Technology at Bright Horizons Family Solutions, claims he spends at least eighty to one hundred hours of service per quarter between the four boards, in which he is a member.
CIOs must also restrict themselves from trying to directly manage the organization. Butch Leonardson, VP and CIO at credit union BECU, comments, "I know I can do the job but in the end it's not my job. I have to remember that my role as director is one of governance, not management."