The term “digital director” is often used by boards to describe a desired candidate or set of technology-related skills; yet, the term can also be a misnomer at times, explains Jason Baumgarten, a partner with Spencer Stuart.

When boards come to us and ask [for] a digital director, usually there’s a whole process in understanding: (1) Is that a board request or is it a management-through-the-board request? (2) What is the focus…of the board? Often it’s code for cultural change or business-model change or ‘we need growth and we’re not seeing it.’ But it’s poised in this notion of this digital director.

Jason Baumgarten, Partner, Spencer Stuart

In this episode, Baumgarten explores the nuances of today’s digital environment and how that translates to board succession planning and director recruitment. How can boards better pinpoint their needs related to technology?

“Somebody has to be a good board member, first, and bring particular expertise, second,” said Baumgarten. “So the first thing is: what does a ‘good board member’ mean at a particular organization?”

Understanding how the CEO wants to engage with his/her board is also an important consideration when assessing whether the board can benefit from recruiting a subject matter expert, explains Baumgarten.

Towards the end of the episode, Baumgarten also stresses the importance of providing new directors with a comprehensive onboarding program–particularly when recruiting first-time directors who may be joining with no prior board experience.

“There are some ongoing things that boards can do to make sure they don’t just get a great director, but that they reinforce the potential of that director over their service,” said Baumgarten.