Digital Transformation

Got Digital Leaders?

Digital Matters

​Market Disruption. The digitization of information is upending traditional business models, changing the way people interact:

  • Publishing: ebooks replacing paper
  • Retail: online purchasing lowering brick-and-mortar sales
  • Music: artists selling directly through iTunes

Universal Impact. All organizations across every industry are impacted in some way:

  • Marketing: “mass customization” of advertising
  • Operations: supply chain optimization
  • Customer service: self-service

Growing Expectations of Corporate Leaders. Shareholders, employees and customers increasingly demand that their leaders understand and leverage digital technologies effectively across the business.


Key Findings

Disruption and Digital Status Linked. For example, Technology and Retail well-represented on the list.

Non-digital Companies Boosting Digital Board Status. For example, Berkshire Hathaway, FedEx and Procter & Gamble.

Digital Boards Have Three Common Themes:

  • Commitment: Four to six digital board members, not one or two.
  • Digital experience: Experience with companies like Amazon, Apple, Cisco, eBay, Facebook, Google, Intuit and Microsoft highly sought after
  • CEO experience: CEO experience for most digital board members

Five to Ten Companies Boosting Digital Board Status:

  • Disney, Ingram Micro, and Sprint Nextel to American Express, Coca-Cola, Ford, Morgan Stanley, PepsiCo and Sysco
  • One to two digital directors
  • Several CEOs who now are board members in highly digital companies: Bill Ford (eBay), Bob Iger (Apple)

Trends and Implications for Recruiting Digital Leadership

The Tide is Turning. Some of the largest and most successful companies are working to narrow the digital capabilities gap.

Some Sectors Moving Faster than Others:

  • Forerunners: consumer-facing businesses like technology, media and communications, retail, and financial services
  • Gradual growers: automotive (connected vehicles) to B2B markets and services

Limited Supply Driving Younger Talent from Unique Sources:

  • Non-CEOs: Marissa Mayer (Google) to Wal-Mart and Katie Mitic (Facebook) to eBay
  • Venture capital/private equity-backed companies, not just F500 digital companies
  • Related businesses that have been through digital transformations

More Selective Screening:

  • Functional experience, social media marketing, cloud, mobile)
  • Transformation experience (pure play vs. established company transformation)
  • Cultural fit (mandatory)
  • Shared vision of making a meaningful impact


To view the list of highly digital boards in the F100, select "Print PDF" at the top of the page.

About Russell Reynolds Associates

Leadership, Succession and Search

Russell Reynolds Associates is a global leader in assessment, recruitment and succession planning for CEOs, boards of directors and key roles within the C-suite. With more than 300 consultants in 41 offices around the globe, our dynamic teams and action-oriented approach help our clients develop goals, define appropriate roles and fill leadership gaps. We work closely with both public and private organizations across all industries and regions to build boards and executive teams that can meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital, economic, environmental and political trends reshaping the business landscape.

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Got Digital Leaders?