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Digital experience on boards and executive committees

2021 Turkey Spencer Stuart Board Index

Deep understanding of how to drive digital transformation is a global business imperative across all sectors. We therefore sought to capture the extent to which relevant digital experience is present among BIST 30 companies, at both board and executive committee level.

We consider someone to have functional experience in the digital/technology domain if they have served in one of the following roles: chief technology officer, chief information officer, chief digital officer, chief data officer, or chief analytics officer.


32% (9) of BIST 30 companies have at least one board member with a digital background. However, only 11 directors in total (4%) have a digital background and just two of these are female.

Of the two BIST 30 telecommunications companies, both have at least one director with a digital background. Of the four conglomerate and holdings businesses in the BIST 30, two have digital directors. We note that within the financial services, industry, and aviation sectors three CEOs, one chair, and one vice chair have digital backgrounds, as do three independent directors.

The average age of board members with digital experience is 50.2 years, significantly lower than the average age of all board members which is 58.6 years.

Executive committees

50% (14) of BIST 30 companies have at least one executive committee member with digital experience. 36% (10) have more than one member with a digital background.

Digital directors are most commonly found among boards in the financial services industry. 41% of directors with a digital background sit on a financial services board, compared with 24% on an industrial board and 17% on a telecommunications company board.

Our perspective

The pandemic dramatically accelerated the pace of digital transformation, as businesses were forced almost overnight to operate in virtual workspaces. The future of leadership lies in its digital competence — and this rests on there being the kind of digital-first mindsets among leaderships that can build comprehensive but highly nuanced digital strategies.

Although our data show that many sectors value digital transformation by appointing “digital directors,” many retail, energy, and construction companies in the BIST 30 still lack any board members or directors with digital backgrounds. However, we expect these numbers to improve as organisations fully confront the challenges of an expanded digital world.