Susan Stautberg Featured in an Article in Quartz
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Corporate boards are turning to 30- and 40-somethings to help them make sense of the internet
Last year, Sean Gourley got an email from an acquaintance: Would he be interested in joining the board of a $30-billion oil and gas company? The 36-year-old had never sat on a public board before, and had no particular knowledge of the industry. He had just left his first company, the data analytics firm Quid, and his second was still taking shape. Still, the physics PhD flew from San Francisco to Houston to interview, and, in September 2015, took a seat on the board of Anadarko Petroleum.
“They wanted someone with a familiarity of data analysis and a more quantitative approach,” Gourley tells Quartz. “So much of business has become very data-driven. … A lot of [companies] are smart enough to realize they need that knowledge.”
Tech-savvy 30 and 40-somethings have become prized in boardrooms because they have something the S&P 500 desperately needs: insight into how companies can exploit digital technology. Software and internet-driven change is transforming most industries, and the bosses at America’s biggest corporations, for whom the average age is about 57, have struggled to keep up.
Fresh faces are rare on corporate boards. The average S&P 500 board member is 63.1, about two years older than a decade ago, reports SpencerStuart, an executive recruiting firm. That’s made corporate leadership is increasingly out of step with the business landscape around them, said Susan Stautberg, CEO of WomenCorporateDirectors. In the 2000s, “people began to see the impact and the cost of falling behind on technology,” she tells Quartz, and the search for tech-focused directors began.
The boardroom search for young tech talent took off after Clara Shih took a spot on Starbuck’s board in 2011. The then 29-year-old engineer had started her own social-media startup after rising through the ranks of Silicon Valley’s top companies, and Starbucks needed help as Facebook and Twitter gained influence. Now, major companies have hired a wave of tech-oriented directors under the age of 50, reports SpencerStuart and BoardEx.
Read the full article here.