Cyber Expertise Tops Most-Wanted List
The Agenda article, "Cyber Expertise Tops Most-Wanted List," quoted Russell Reynolds Associates' Stephen Morse about the demand for cyber-security and digital technology experts on boardrooms. The article is excerpted below.
Competition is high among boards to find directors who can fill skills gaps related to cyber security and digital technology. Boards want highly capable cyber-security experts who can help them oversee cyber risks and defenses from a risk-management perspective, as well as directors who can help execute strategic goals in such areas as e-commerce and digitization. Search experts say the smartest boards are recruiting directors with both types of skills.
However, experts agree that demand for these skills far outstrips supply. Respondents to Agenda ’s Directors’ and Officers’ Outlook: Q2 2016 survey were asked to describe the skill or area of expertise in a new director that could best help the board oversee the risks the company faces, and the most common answer was cyber security. The second-most common answer was new technology, information technology or big data expertise.
Cyber security and digital technology expertise are new areas that have evolved so quickly that many cyber-security experts and digital technology executives lack the gravitas — and decades of experience — needed to contribute at the board level. Recruiters say they often meet with cyber-security executives who are skilled in all aspects of IT and tactical cyber defense, but aren’t capable of discussing broader enterprise risk and strategic business issues.
Directors with security or military backgrounds can help boards oversee cyber and technology issues, as well as such issues as geopolitical risk that can impact both cyber security and operational and growth strategies, says Stephen Morse, who leads search firm Russell Reynolds Associates’ global energy and natural resources practice.
Morse says that in recruiting cyber-security experts to boards, he often looks closely at candidates’ strategic thinking and performance-management capabilities in order to assess whether potential directors can communicate and build commitment to ideas and concepts that might not be as familiar to other directors.
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