3 min read

The Rise of the Technical Non-Executive Director

The Rise of the Technical Non-Executive Director
The Rise of the Technical Non-Executive Director

Increasingly, we see CIOs and CTOs holding board seats but typically, non-executive board members have been recruited for their commercial expertise and so we see significant numbers of CEOs or CFOs taking on non-executive positions. As organisations recognise the importance of technology in achieving their strategic goals, we are gradually seeing individuals with backgrounds as CIOs and CTOs operating as non-executive board members.  

Whilst hiring CEOs and CFOs who have facilitated significant growth in their executive career make excellent candidates for non-executive positions and will continue to have a positive impact on board make-up, organisations are increasingly recognising the benefits of bringing specialist technical knowledge into the board room. This is the case both inside and outside of the tech sector.  


If Appointed as NEDs, Top-Flight CIOs and CTOs Can Help Fill That Talent Gap

                             Gartner Expert Mark Raskino


board (digital)

Technology is no longer simply used in the day to day running of an organisation, for most businesses it is core to strategy and key to improving products, services, and profitability. A Non-Executive Director (NED) with a technical background can help ensure technology is being used to its full advantage when developing go to market strategies, both identifying and mitigating risk, and developing a product or service offering. An NED with a technical leadership background will have the experience to provide critical guidance on technology’s role in achieving sustainability goals, whether through support with sustainability policy or technology procurement strategy. They will also be well placed to evaluate the performance of executive board members operating in technology focused roles.  As CTOs and CIOs join boards, it is practical for there to be a NED with the ability to provide guidance on technology strategy, challenge performance where necessary, and help executive board members achieve their objectives.  

The identification of potential pitfalls or challenges is a key part of the non-executive role, so it seems logical that there is an NED with the experience and skillset to identity potential technology related challenges. The complexity of technology challenges can be considerable and therefore the availability of guidance for not only the technology leaders, but the whole executive board can be vital in the avoidance or quick resolution of such challenges. Businesses will inevitably face problems relating to internally and externally facing technology at some point in their growth journey, but equally, technology supports in the resolution of a significant number of other challenges, such as operational inefficiency, poor talent retention, and inadequate customer service. The identification of technology-based solutions for such issues is key to increasing profitability and ensuring growth. An NED with a technology background is an ideally placed candidate for spotting opportunities, that may be otherwise overlooked, where technology transformation can resolve current business challenges. 

Benefits of a technical NED: 

  • Go-to-market strategy: They can help assess how technology can be leveraged to develop effective go-to-market plans.
  • Risk management: Their technical expertise allows for identifying and mitigating potential risks associated with technology implementation.
  • Product development: They can provide valuable insights on integrating technology into product or service offerings.
  • Sustainability goals: Their experience can be crucial for guiding the board on how technology supports achieving sustainability goals through policy and procurement strategies.
  • Evaluating tech leadership: They are well-positioned to assess the performance of executives responsible for technology functions


The roles of CIOs and CTOs have become increasingly strategic in today's business landscape. Their responsibilities go far beyond just maintaining stable technology performance. They are now instrumental in shaping the wider business strategy to ensure competitiveness in the ever-evolving technological landscape. Additionally, they play a crucial role in developing product strategies and driving operational improvements.

As these roles continue to evolve, it has become evident that having CIOs and CTOs in non-executive positions can bring immense benefits. Their technical expertise and experience in driving technological advancements can provide valuable insights and guidance to the board. This shift allows for a more holistic approach to decision-making, ensuring that technology is leveraged effectively to achieve business goals and stay ahead in a competitive market.

The increase of CIOs and CTOs holding strategic leadership positions and maintaining board seats means that those who transition to non-executive positions are better prepared for the role. They can bring unique perspectives to go to market strategy, risk management and product development and as organisations undertake technological transformation to remain competitive in an increasingly digital world, the benefits of having this type of candidate on the non-executive board are clear. As CEOs recognise these benefits, the transition to NED presents an increasingly attractive and viable move for CIOs and CTOs.


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How CIOs and CTOs Drive Business Success

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