CIO BRIEF: IT and the Board of Directors

With IT integral to a firm’s risk management and strategy development plans, CIOs have to learn how to effectively engage board members. Here’s how they can get heard

This white paper is based on the proceedings of a CIO Brief meeting focusing on how CIOs can engage their boards of directors.

In recent years, as information technology has become integral to organizations’ risk management and strategy development plans and IT resources have become critical and scarce, the board’s attention to IT matters has risen. In addition, boards have always been interested in big ticket items and IT projects often fall into this category.

Unfortunately, many CIOs find it difficult to communicate in board-relevant language. As well, they may not understand the role of the board in managing risk. These issues are complicated by the fact that many board members do not understand IT, particularly strategic IT risk, and many boards do not have an IT champion. Therefore, some CIOs can be apprehensive when interacting with the board.

Speakers at this session were Michael Foulkes and Dr. Catherine Aczel Boivie. Foulkes and Boivie discuss why boards of directors are increasingly preoccupied by IT issues, the conditions under which CIOs would be invited to speak to their board, and how CIOs can best influence board members.

Foulkes is a former executive at TD Bank Group who held various positions, including EVP Group Operations and Chief Information Officer, EVP Commercial Banking, and President and CEO TD Waterhouse UK. Foulkes is currently a Director of Davis + Henderson Corporation, the Canadian Depository for Securities, First Nations Bank of Canada, and eHealth Ontario. 

Boivie is an executive with more than 20 years’ experience in IT leadership, most recently as SVP of Information Technology and Facility Management for Vancity Credit Union. Previously, she was SVP of IT and CIO at Pacific Blue Cross and CAA British Columbia. She is also an experienced board member, having served on several boards, including: Insurance Corporation of B.C., Certified General Accountants of Canada, and the Burnaby Board of Trade.

The white paper is written by Heather A. Smith, a senior research associate, and James McKeen, emeritus professor, both of Queen's School of Business.

CIO Brief meetings bring together chief information officers from leading Canadian organizations to exchange best practices around information technology management strategy. Membership is by invitation only.  The sessions are co-sponsored by Deloitte and Queen’s School of Business.For more information on this industry forum, go to:

Smith School of Business

Goodes Hall, Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario
Canada K7L 3N6

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