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Board Engagement

Board Engagement
Why has cloud become a board-level topic, rather than a C-Suite or VP discussion?

Top Answer: When we adopt cloud in silos it hampers the potential for success because it’s like putting a bandaid over a wound. We may be just doing cloud transformation for the customer-facing side, but our back office still continues to work on monolithic legacy systems. So even though we may become composable or agile on the front end, we are still very monolithic and rigid on the back end. The concept of a composable enterprise enables you to become much more agile, but agility is not speed. Agility is speed to change, irrespective of whether you are only doing cloud on the front end, or if you're doing an end-to-end cloud transformation. When you look at it from the perspective of a CEO or CxO, those roles are not going to reap the true benefits of that. That's why cloud has become more of a board discussion nowadays, rather than a topic for the CTO or VP of Engineering.

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CISOs, any thoughts on the recently proposed SEC rule that would require U.S. public company boardrooms to disclose corporate directors with cybersecurity expertise?

Top Answer: I am wondering on how does the SEC define or qualify "Cybersecurity Experience". Did they publish guidelines or expectations required to qualify that I might have missed?

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What’s your advice for engaging the board when asked to “simplify the narrative”?

Top Answer: I've presented to a bunch of boards at various companies. I was always last and by the time I got up there, all the board members would be on their phones because nobody understood IT. But then I found this author, Dan Roam, who draws everything in simple pictures. He can tell a story around anything and get complex ideas across through drawings. When I went into the boardroom after that, I would just write on the whiteboard and say, "We're doing this project and here's everybody who is involved." I’d draw a whole matrix of who, what, where, why, when, how, and how much the whole thing will cost. I could take any project and go over who's involved, where we are today, what we’re going to do, how we’ll get there, and the timeline we’ll do it in. That made a big difference: all of a sudden the board members were chiming in with, "Well, what if we did this instead?" Or, "I think this person should be involved, too." And we could just add those points to the diagram. It was much more dynamic when I was talking to them and I barely had to go through my slides. At one company, this evolved to the point that when they had a board meeting, they would say, "We're trying to get through this problem, can you get that guy who draws stuff?" Even if they didn't remember my name, I got to join the board meetings and help them draw out how we would solve whatever problem they were dealing with. It was a lot of fun.

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How can you get appointed to a Board of Directors? Share your experience and/or opinion.

Top Answer: Let me share my experience and what got me to the board. 1. Respect of the C-suite that I can add value to the enterprise beyond technology 2. Communication skills. Crisp, clear and to the point. 3. Acknowledgment from the IT industry as a business leader which came up in meetings of partners with the CEO 4. Engaging the Board regularly on various aspects of the industry and our business 5. Customer focus. Internal and external 6. Understanding of financials and ratios that matter to the company. 7. Networking. Beyond the companies where I worked my Board nomination and selection was due to recommendations from my network Hope this helps

What training/certification is helpful for becoming part of a board of directors?

Top Answer: I don’t know about your country but in Australia there is a well-regarded course from the Australian Institute of Company Directors; perhaps your country has a similar body?

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What should startup founders consider when looking for suitable investors?

Top Answer: It is a dating exercise in the end, so do you really want to hang out with them? I look at my capital table today and  2% to 5% of my investors are active in the company. My lead investor is in it every week — we're meeting multiple times, and not about status updates. The conversation is: how can I help? What are you thinking? How can we adjust this partnership? I can call him and we can just get through whatever we need to figure out. That's such a big difference from traditional arrangements, where you hand in your recorded report and tell them your metrics, etc., rather than discussing how you're going to disrupt the market. That is a big deal. Those people are also the ones that will say, "Okay, then I'm willing to write another check." But it also comes down to what stage you’ve reached.

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