In the serene waters of the business world, a new wave is rising – one that is fresher, bolder, and distinctly younger. This is the wave of the modern non-executive, a sprightly breed of board advisors, chairs, and fractional board-level contributors who are surfing their way into the boardrooms with a zest hitherto unseen. Gone are the days when boardrooms were the exclusive reserve of the silver-haired; today, they are a vibrant mix of experience and youthful dynamism, much like a well-attended family reunion where every generation has a say.
Why this sea change?
Well, cast your mind back 25 years. The business landscape was as different from today’s. Many of the industries that now dominate our world – think social media giants like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok – were either in their embryonic stages or simply non-existent. Today’s S&P 500 high-flyers – Tesla, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and their ilk – were either figments of a futurist’s imagination or just taking their first baby steps.
This shift is not just a matter of technological advancement; it’s akin to a gardener realising that new plants need different care. The traditional skills and experiences, while still valuable, are sometimes as out of place as a bowler hat at a beach party. The modern non-executive brings to the table a different set of skills – digital fluency, a deep understanding of emerging market trends, and an intuitive grasp of the Gen-Z psyche.
The presence of these younger non-executives on boards is also a nod to the changing demographics of both the workforce and the consumer base. It’s a recognition that to understand the market, you need to speak its language, and sometimes that language is best understood by those who have grown up speaking it. It’s like acknowledging that to win a sailing race, you might just need someone on your team who knows the latest, fastest boats.
But let’s not get carried away.
The sea, as they say, can be treacherous. The wisdom of experience is still as necessary as a lighthouse guiding ships to shore. The ideal boardroom today is a blend of experience and innovation, of tried and tested strategies with fresh, out-of-the-box thinking. It’s about balancing the steady hand on the tiller with the enthusiastic hands ready to hoist the new sails.
The modern non-executive, young(er) and digitally native, is not just a passing trend. Their presence is a reminder that to stay afloat and thrive, companies must embrace change, sometimes even before the currents make their presence felt!