By Adam Wray, CEO, CenturyLink Cloud Who should you fill your board member seat? An individual who will advance your company’s strategic vision and ability to execute. Filling an outside board member seat is a critical step at any stage of a company’s growth, but especially critical for an earlier stage company. While the temptation may be to court board members with broad industry name recognition, or company associations, this is only one of many variables to consider when targeting a new board member (and candidly of lower priority than several others). In beginning a search, factor what requisite expertise and knowledge are most valuable to leverage and how that background will integrate and complement your existing board. When we looked to expand our board to bring in another outside director, we developed a definitive set of skills and experience we felt would be accretive to our board, versus overlapping. Our two existing directors have great operational and venture finance backgrounds, so we were looking for was experience that could bring new and diverse insights, in particular around our core business, cloud computing. We found what we were looking for in Mark Adams, chief development officer of Equinix, Inc., a firm whose customers include almost every major cloud service provider across the IaaS, PaaS and SaaS segments. Mark, came equipped with a unique observatory position across all the major industry trends within the cloud segment. Since we are in the process of investing in strategic partnerships, Mark’s unique perspective and global business development experience will be critical in helping us review and hone these initiatives over time. Board members don’t work in a vacuum, so factoring the interaction between members is equally important. Do the board members engage well with each other? Will this person bring a unique perspective that other board members will want to hear and investigate? Can they create and drive dialogue around challenges and opportunities you are facing? If you can find someone that can fill these gaps, and interacts well with your existing board members, the result can be downright magical. Lastly, as CEO, evaluate what kind of consultative relationship you can build with the director. Do you feel you can count on them to help you do what is in the best interest of the company? It seems like a benign question, but trust and lack of outside conflicts are critical factors in determining whom to add to your board. Often board members are solicited and added whom the executive team has never really worked with—which is fine. However, that means you must spend extra time upfront getting to know and understand whether there is an ideal fit between you and the prospective member. You should never be in a hurry to increase your board’s size, but when the time comes make sure you factor all of these dynamics into the equation. That means also remembering to avoid the temptation to build upon a team that just “looks” good, i.e. impressive resumes, and instead focus on building rapport and relationships within a smaller group of talented, knowledgeable professionals who each bring their own unique qualities to the equation. At CenturyLink Cloud, we believe we have accomplished all of this with our existing board and are excited to add the diverse and unique background of yet another market leader in Mark Adams.