A guide for family business leaders hiring technology executives

With rapid technological advancements and digital disruption still dominating many strategic conversations, family businesses may find themselves faced with a situation where innovation is both a threat and an opportunity. How, then, can family businesses thrive in this ever-changing landscape?

 

 

The key lies in embracing agility and adaptability.

Central to this is hiring the right senior digital, data and technology leaders. These individuals must not only possess a robust blend of managerial skills and technical expertise, but they must also align with the family’s values and legacy. This guide explores some essential considerations for family business leaders embarking on the journey of hiring technology executives.

 

The role of technology and digital leaders

Gone are the days of just managing IT; technology, data and digital leaders are now the driving force behind digital strategy, innovation, and instigating transformative changes within their organisation. From understanding the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning to managing the intricacies of automation and Web 3.0, these leaders are at the forefront of leveraging cutting-edge tools and methodologies to push the business forward.

This digital transformation, however, is not without its challenges. The ever-present threat of cyberattacks looms large, potentially disrupting operations, compromising data, and shattering consumer trust.

For family businesses aiming to build a solid digital team capable of navigating this evolving landscape, it’s crucial to get crystal clear on what is needed. The below chart outlines the responsibilities for each role, providing a comprehensive portrayal of what to expect from these key positions.

Once you’ve got a clear picture of what you’re after, you can then set out to find the right person for your business. However, when it comes to recruiting technology and digital leaders for family-run businesses, it’s not just about ticking off boxes for technical skills and experience.

A more nuanced approach is required. It’s crucial to find someone who aligns with your company’s culture, shares your long-term vision, knows how to navigate risk wisely, and understands how to engage with your varied stakeholders. Emphasis must be placed on spending resources wisely, both in terms of capital expenditures (CapEx) and operational expenditures (OpEx). This means making decisions that drive immediate results while laying the groundwork for the long haul.

With a deep appreciation of these unique factors, these leaders can effectively drive innovation, support sustainable growth, and help to ensure continuity through generations. It’s all about finding that perfect balance!

 

 

Key considerations for hiring technology and digital leaders

Let’s break down what you need to keep in mind when you’re on the hunt for technology and digital leaders:

Commercial acumen: Today’s technology leaders need to be more than just tech-savvy—they’ve got to understand the ins and outs of the business world too, aligning technological investments and initiatives with overarching strategic objectives. Family business leaders should seek candidates with a proven track record in generating solid business results. Whether it’s streamlining processes, enhancing customer experiences, or unlocking new revenue streams.

Innovation and adaptability: Innovation is the name of the game in the digital age. Family business leaders should prioritise candidates who are passionate about change and pushing boundaries. Ideal candidates should have a proven ability to lead transformative initiatives, experiment with new ideas, and adapt to changing market dynamics. Flexibility and resilience are key here.

Technical expertise: While vision and leadership are essential, effective technology leaders must also have a robust technical foundation to drive innovation and safeguard the business. They are responsible for the secure deployment and operation of critical digital projects—from software development to data analytics. Cybersecurity breaches and cloud computing vulnerabilities are where the stakes rise highest.

Technology leaders need a relentless commitment to keeping businesses safe from such digital threats.

Risk appreciation: Every business has its own appetite for risk, and family-owned firms are no exception. Although digital transformation and innovation are crucial, family businesses might prefer a more cautious approach to adopting new technologies that could disrupt established practices or threaten the family legacy.

It’s essential for digital leaders to understand your risk tolerance, balancing innovation with prudent risk management, all while mindful of budget. This means prioritising projects with a clear return on investment and a minimised potential for disruption.

Stakeholder engagement: In family-owned businesses, stakeholders come in all shapes and sizes, from family members, advisors, and close associates. Digital leaders must excel in engaging with this broad and varied group, communicating the value of digital initiatives, and securing support for strategic decisions. Achieving consensus among family stakeholders is vital for the successful implementation of digital strategies.

Cultural alignment: Finally, as crucial as technical expertise and strategic skills are, cultural compatibility is equally vital in ensuring the success of technology leaders within family businesses. Prospective candidates should understand and respect your core business values and culture.

It’s important to assess the ability of these leaders to work harmoniously with varied stakeholders, manage complex family dynamics, and cultivate an environment of trust and transparency.

 

As you navigate the complexities of acquiring digital and technology talent, focusing on high calibre leaders who have a solid grasp of commercial insight, an innovative spirit, deep technical expertise, and align with your cultural, can position your organisations for enduring success.

At Redgrave, we specialise in the intricate demands of family businesses, drawing on our deep understanding of the nuanced requirements of these evolving roles. Through our dedicated digital, data & technology practice, we offer deep functional expertise.

We’re dedicated to identifying and connecting with exceptional talent that aligns with the evolving expectations of family-owned businesses. Our approach lies in finding leaders with the ability to lead organisations into the future with confidence and skill, and the cultural compatibility necessary for seamless integration within your unique business environment.

 

For more insights on how we partner with family businesses to attract great technology and digital leaders, please contact Rind Bajwa or David Angel.

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