The evolving digital landscape continues to challenge many sitting directors with the various transformation and security issues it presents. Boardroom discussions can no longer ignore the rise of the digital consumer, which has begun to affect industries far beyond just retail or business-to-consumer. These challenges are accompanied by many opportunities for directors to improve board and company performance.

In this episode, Alex Schmelkin, board member with Essendant and founder & CEO of Cake & Arrow, is given an interesting task: If you could design a digital training program for today’s board members, what would it look like? Host TK Kerstetter asks Schmelkin how he would both define ‘digital’ and communicate its current and future impact for today’s directors.

I’d ask the directors to think about ‘digital’ being this great intersection between sales, marketing, technology, and customer service—all coming together and focusing on a single point… What directors need to understand these days is the customer; their needs, wants, and desires; how they want to do business with you; where they want to do business with you.

Alex Schmelkin, Board Member, Essendant & CEO, Cake & Arrow

‘Digital’ is about experimentation, explains Schmelkin, and it requires a fundamental shift in the way board members think about strategy and risk. He outlines several approaches that boards can take to better understand the “end user” no matter the organization or industry.

Joining the board in his 30s, Schmelkin also discusses the topic of board tenure, particularly for the next generation of board members. How should boards approach refreshment or term limits as next-gen directors have another 30-40 years of board service ahead?