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ICT & engineers up for board appointments

04 Apr 2022 at 12:43hrs | Views
Finally, it has dawned on Zimbabwean organisations to embrace the roles of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals/Engineers appointing them to Boards and positions of Chief Executive Officers or ( STATE HIGHEST POSITION OR EQUIVALENT in listed companies, public and private institutions. More organisations are increasingly requesting Curriculum Vitaes with the intention of appointing ICT professionals to senior roles.

Gone are days when only Accountants and Lawyers would dominate corporate sectors in Zimbabwe. The advent of technology and its unstoppable advancement and demand has forced the broadening of the Director"s pool through inclusion of individuals with sound Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) backgrounds. It is envisaged that the co-option of more individuals with a STEM background on boards would help diversify the knowledge and skills as well as enhance information-based decision-making. It is increasingly becoming imperative to engage individuals equipped with a diverse mix of backgrounds around the board table to help foster a healthy discussion with a variety of views and perspectives for betterment of organisation.

In the United Kingdom, Japan and China this composition has increased board performance reducing the risk of groupthink. This leads to better outcomes for shareholders, consumers, employees and the community. GIven the need to boost innovation and growth in the current technology driven environment having the highlighted composition could not have come at a better time.

In Zimbabwe and beyond technology is a strategic imperative in nearly every company and organization, regardless of industry, sector, or geography. No company is immune to the influence of technology-driven disruption, innovation, or value creation. Business strategy is now largely driven by technology strategies and driven by director of information and STEM qualified individuals. They are leading organization technology deployments and helping the businesses develop and implement technology-enabled business strategies.

 Modern organization, no single strategy in any business that is not enabled by technology. Technology is the common denominator in every single key strategic imperative in every company. Many board members agree that as the pace of change quickens, technology now leads and influences business strategy in almost all organizations. With the addition of ICT and engineering qualified individuals, it is imperative for board members to understand these disruptive changes as they relate to technology, guide the organization to go beyond traditional ICT conversations, and leverage technology to grow the business.

World over progressive companies in all industrial sectors have been focusing on how best to leverage technology transformation and unleash the power of big data and data analytics to enhance their business development and to improve their results. The addition of ICTs and engineers to company's boards provides an opportunity for executives to fully understand how technology can enhance the performance of their company. At the speed that Zimbabwean companies are adopting technology at company level, the risk of technology failure has never been more acute.

Technology infrastructure traditionally has been considered a back-office management function that can effectively be handled by an information technology officer on the senior management team. Yet the board of directors is responsible for overseeing significant risk management, including technology risk. There is no doubt of the importance of technology for business strategy and operations and this means that all boards in Zimbabwe need to take a more proactive and informed stance on technology governance. However, the biggest challenge with boards in our country is they are not equipped to ask the right questions or make well-informed assessments about the risks and implications of technology issues.

Historically in Zimbabwe CEOs often come from the ranks of Chartered Accountancy (CA) who are financial directors (FD) or from business unit heads. ICTs professionals and engineers have not traditionally been the breeding ground for future CEOs. As a result, board members are biased against including ICT and engineers at board level and this has been caused by the fact that board members do not understand their functions and it is a department that they have once managed.

Given the gravity of technology for the continued success of most businesses, some more progressive boards in the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe already have ICT and engineering committees to carry out this role.

A company's board of directors is like the bridge of a ship. It is the forum where overall direction is set, major gauges are monitored, and risks assessed. By appointing ICT professionals and engineers on company boards the organization will have a unique mix of process and technical knowledge that can be applied in the boardroom to tackle many business challenges. This mix includes a suite of analytical skills combined with a pragmatic, structured and realistic approach. These professions are often as trained risk assessors, trained decision-makers and project management experts. Additionally, they have hands-on experience, working with real people and real-time issues to bring together theory and practice. These attributes form uniquely strong foundations for senior corporate positions.

In preparation for senior and board roles many ICT professionals and engineers seek additional qualifications and experience. Some acquire skills organically over time, whilst others pursue an intensive formal qualification such as an MBA.

Last but not least let us say BIG UP to the listed, public and private and any organization that have appointed STEM, ICT professionals and engineers on their boards and senior executives. Board members and senior executives with a background in science and technology ask the "dumb" questions others do not. They are used to taking the emotion out of judgements and making hard decisions based on the evidence available and these are vital for a progressive board.


Source - Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi
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