June 30, 2017 – Major investors are demanding that more younger people be named to boards of directors in an effort to take advantage of their digital knowhow and the perspective they can bring to emerging areas of board oversight, including e-commerce, digital marketing and cybersecurity. To help equip these younger, often first-time directors to be effective in the boardroom, Spencer Stuart, Nasdaq and Boardroom Resources have jointly launched Next Gen Board Leaders, an initiative designed to foster a community of current and aspiring directors. The goal is to spark discussion around the challenges, opportunities and contributions of a younger generation in today’s boardrooms.
Today’s companies face new risks and new opportunities, from protecting sensitive customer data to building omnichannel marketing experiences. Next Gen Board Leaders aims to promote the natural diversification of skill-sets that occurs when boards are regularly revisiting strategy and composition alignment.
“Institutional investors have been vocal about board composition,” said Julie Daum, leader of Spencer Stuart’s North American board practice. “They simply want to know that boards have the right skill-sets to guide and oversee today’s companies in their three-, five- and 10-year plan for value creation. Age diversity becomes an inevitable factor, as this younger generation of directors possesses extensive expertise on many of these fast-evolving strategic and governance issues.”
At the core of the Next Gen Board Leaders community is an advisory council of 10 public company directors, all in their 30s and 40s, representing diversity of industry, geography, race and gender. The council was expected to meet for the first time this month in a “mini-summit” at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City. It was expected to swap experiences and discuss governance issues through a generational perspective. Mini-summit discussions were to be leveraged to create ongoing thought-leadership content, which will be collaboratively published to the Next Gen Board Leaders website throughout the year.
Next Gen Board Leaders Advisory Council:
- Caroline Tsay, director with Morningstar & Rosetta Stone (advisory council chair)
- Dr. Anastassia Lauterbach, director with Dun & Bradstreet
- Bruce Bohuny, director with Lakeland Bancorp
- Christa Quarles, director with Kimberly-Clark
- David Bozeman, director with Weyerhaeuser
- Jennifer Dulski, director with TEGNA
- Michael Steib, director with Ally Financial
- Priya Cherian Huskins, director with Realty Income Corporation
- Sonya Medina Williams, director with Papa John’s
- Susan Chapman-Hughes, director with Potbelly Corp.
“I would like to see the group provide thought leadership on issues that boards do not necessarily dig into deep enough today,” said Caroline Tsay, board member for Rosetta Stone and Morningstar, and also chair of the advisory council. “These issues may include changing business models, customer preferences, go-to-market plans, technology enablement and organizational design.”
Special attention will also be paid to the inherent barriers of recruiting and assimilating this generation of younger, often first-time directors.
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“We find that the onboarding process can often be improved,” said TK Kerstetter, CEO of Boardroom Resources and host of Inside America’s Boardrooms. “It’s also important to consider board dynamics, particularly when the average board member is about 20 to 30 years older than this new diverse subset of young directors. Ultimately, we want Next Gen Board Leaders to help boards understand how to recruit and assimilate younger directors to take best advantage of their skills.”
Directors, investors and governance professionals of all ages are encouraged to join the conversation by subscribing to emails from Next Gen Board Leaders. A monthly newsletter will pose discussion questions, share editorials and feature Q&A interviews with advisory council members.
“I’ve found that the most progress is made when a solution or conclusion incorporates the best of different perspectives and experiences,” said Ms. Tsay. “We also need directors and governance professionals of all ages to join these generational’ conversations, as it may mean that we all have to re-think the role of directors and how best to leverage and incorporate them.”
Spencer Stuart’s board practice has deep knowledge of governance issues and its international network of consultants has conducted more than 1,800 director searches over the last 36 months. More than 30 percent of its director placements last year were women. Clients include public, private equity-backed, major private and family-owned businesses, as well as startups and non-profit organizations.
Ms. Daum consults with corporate boards, working with companies of all sizes, from the Fortune 10 to pre-IPO companies. She has conducted more than 1,000 board director assignments, recently recruiting outside directors for Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Bank of Montreal, numerous IPOs and spin-off boards.
The Nasdaq Stock Market is the second-largest exchange in the world by market capitalization with more than 3,800 companies listed. In 2007, the organization launched Board Recruiting, an online service to help public and private companies identify board members. It uses a profile matching system that connects potential board member candidates with boards seeking directors.
Boardroom Resources is an educational platform for board members, corporate secretaries and governance professionals. It produces content across several formats, including weekly blog posts, events, email newsletters and a web show called “Inside America’s Boardrooms.” Its mission is to improve board performance, particularly by creating new board education formats and sparking evocative conversations.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Chase Barbe, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media