Boards of young companies

I just recently read an article in, about the need for young companies to retain experienced board members. Milla Vihanto hints that board member selection isn’t for ever and that members should be rotated depending on current needs and availability of matching skills.

The article is mainly a sales pitch for professional board member associations. I looked at the two sites mentioned in the article and I don’t believe that there is a single person under the age of 45 in the member rosters. More like a shopping market for ex-executives and celebrities. What I found fascinating is the Boardman 2020 program, which is directed at the 30-40 age group. Regardless of what I have written in the past Finnish industry has made giant strides in internationalization… there is just a long way to go still. I believe that there exists a new bread of young internationally experienced Finnish executives that could bring new vigor and skills to boards. I am exited to see how this new trend (maybe not yet, but hopefully) will turn out.

Milla goes on to comment that the most important views to start with are business planning, financial management, financing and finding key personnel. Probably true for the first year, but what about internationalization. The previous article I commented on suggested that products and companies should be geared for international markets from day one. Strategic planning is a key competency. Financing expertise is often needed, but I would again emphasize experience with “international” financing. I am not so sure about finding key personnel. Too often I see board members push in their “crew” that really doesn’t have the needed skills. Let’s leave the headhunting to the professional executive recruiters that will objectively hunt a person that matches the needed skill set.

I would propose that young ICT companies should make an effort to find equally young internationally minded/experienced executives for their boards to take an active role in coaching and assisting the management team with their growth strategies. You can have a balance of old age/restraint and young enthusiasm/current field experience. 


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