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Bridging the Gap: Bringing Technology into the Boardroom

Podcast host Tania Salarvand | Podcast guest Jane Chwick
July 08, 2020 | 27 min 5 sec

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Brief summary

Today, technology is a powerful force for driving long-term organizational growth. Former Goldman Sachs Partner; and Thoughtworks Board Member, Jane Chwick, explores why many corporate boards are re-thinking the role of technology in their business strategy, and the benefits of a tech-savvy boardroom. If you are a leader, trying to bridge the gap between the boardroom and technology, this is the podcast for you. 


The role of the board has expanded a lot over the last 10 years. Regulatory issues have become much more important. Dealing with activism has become much more important. Dealing with cyber has become incredibly important and dealing with technology has become very important.

COVID has had three really important impacts on companies and on boards: Client impact, employee impact, and capital strategy impact.

The most important thing for a board to have, is open lines of communication with senior management, and it's not just the CEO. If there is an issue, if there's an enormous incident, knowing that I will get a phone call to notify me is really important. You have to have a policy around when it is communication should happen versus not. It can't just be left solely to judgment.

Data is very important, but not data dumps. As directors, we govern, we don't manage. And so when data is given to us, it needs to be analyzed and processed and have a thesis that management has from having viewed at the data. And then we should have enough access to the underlying data, to be able to get a sense of whether we agree with it or not, to push back and question, and give them other ideas and thoughts about where they think things are going

The business strategy of the organization, the goal, the purpose, the vision, what they're looking to accomplish is not technology per se. We have to remember, it may be that technology is 100% of what the organization does, but there is a goal. The goal is not technology.

Everybody on a board has responsibility of staying abreast of trends in general.  It is a director's responsibility to pay attention to the news, to know what is going on and reach out to their CEOs to see what the companies were doing or not doing to prepare.

I think are the best boards are made up of diverse people with diverse skill sets, and diverse is race, gender, sexual preference. That's all diversity because you bring different mindsets, but diverse is also skills and experiences. If you have a 10-person board and they're all technologists, that's not good.

Boards need to be tech savvy because technology is so important, but they don't need to be tech deep. They don't need to understand it all. They hear about the cloud, they should ask about the cloud, but they shouldn't understand really in depth of one technology over another.

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