Nationwide Chief Operating Officer Tony Prestedge says he could not imagine how a C-level technology and operations exec could do their job without being a member of an organisation's Executive Committee.
The former CIO at the world's largest building society, who took on the COO role in November 2010 overseeing its multi-billion pound technology transformation, was discussing IT and digital skills at board level with CIO UK after the mutual announced five new external expert advisers to its Board IT Strategy and Resilience Committee.
"I couldn't imagine doing my job without at least being a member of the Executive Committee," Prestedge said regarding the importance of technology expertise at the most senior level of an organisation.
"If a CIO is not a member of the full business committee, then you are always disconnected in the strategy from your own thinking. You become more myopic and detached, and less able to offer value."
Digital expertise in the boardroom
This same month it was revealed that only 2% of FTSE 350 companies have their CIO or CTO on the board and only 36% include a director with some level of digital or technology experience.
"I couldn't imagine our board without one person who does not have an operations or technology background," Prestedge said. "You need a contributor in that way."
Nationwide has announced five new external expert advisers to its Board IT Strategy and Resilience Committee, which COO Prestedge said had been appointed specifically to cover the areas of digital innovation, mobile, payments, data and security.
They are are former GCHQ Director General of Intelligence and Security Conrad Prince, ex-Barclays Chief Data Officer Usama Fayyad, InAuth CEO Lisa Stanton, as well as FinTech and financial services experts Mark Hartley and James Greene.
Prestedge said that even prior to the new panel the board IT committee had been meeting for four years, and chaired by himself had included the CEO of Nationwide, CIO Debra Bailey, CTO Simon Hamilton and three NEDs including Mitchel Lenson, the former CIO of Deutsche Bank and operations chief of UBS. Prestedge said that it was important to have that kind of expertise on the Nationwide board.
"Mitchel is tough and holds me to account," Prestedge said. "He calls stuff out and has an incredible network which reaches internationally beyond the UK. He brings the counter-balance."
Prestedge said that having an experienced CIO and COO was as asset in having an added voice when describing the complexity of IT implementations to other board members.
"When it doesn't go perfectly, there are other members of the board for whom Mitchel helps understand in a different way the risks the organisation faces," Prestedge explained.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.