Watermark Search International forecasts high demand for women on boards

Nick Waterworth

Photo: Luis Ascui

This article was originally posted on afr.com, written by John Stensholt.

Nick Waterworth says up to half of the new board directors in 2014 could be women. An executive search expert has forecast as many as 50 per cent of board appointees in 2014 will be women.
Nick Waterworth, the managing partner of Watermark Search International, says there has been a spate of inquiries from boards wanting females, particularly those already at the executive level, to fill director vacancies.
“We’re not talking about filling quotas or that sort of thing. In particular, boards are wanting women who are already at the executive level. That means their time management skills are already extremely good, which is what boards want and women are much better at that than men,” he said.

Mr Waterworth said women in executive roles will increasingly be able to pick and choose what boards they take on, given the demand for their talents. “They will be looking to take on at least one or two more corporate roles.”

He said candidates with extensive technology skills will also be in high demand in 2014.
“We are talking about people who are founders of technology companies or those that have been leaders at tech firms, particularly with real e-commerce experience. There is a realisation across a lot of areas, including media, travel and other industries, that the pace of technological change is so rapid they need someone who understands that.”
Mr Waterworth also forecast strong demand for chief financial officers “who are market literate” for positions at companies looking to float on the Australian Securities Exchange, and that chief executive’s with good marketing skills will also gain roles.

He said there is also a trend for more demand from government agencies for directors and executives with extensive corporate experience. “They are looking for people with change management and transformation experience, who will come over for a relatively short time. It’s the roles in the $300,000 to $350,000, where they can lead change and they switch back to the corporate sector later.”

“There seems to have been more activity in December 2013 for 2014, compared to what it was like in December 2012,” Mr Waterworth said.