Boards have existed since the 17th or 18th century in different forms and with evolving functions. They’ve evolved very slowly and been very reactive to change, relative to other corporate functions. In this podcast Jaime Grego-Mayor: Managing Partner, Advisory Board Architects talks to Mark Hamill about how to become a board member and add value to a board.
Summary text of Global Conference Call
Jaime Grego-Mayor: Managing Partner, Advisory Board Architects
Let me give you a very brief bit of history of boards. Boards have existed since the 17th or 18th century in different forms and with evolving functions. They’ve evolved very slowly and been very reactive to change, relative to other corporate functions.
Through an ongoing cycle of corporate scandal à new rules à corporate scandal, BoDs have been saddled with new and ever more complex requirements. This has been to the detriment of other key functions of the board, like strategy formation and company growth.
This has affected mostly publicly listed companies, while basically ignoring the needs of the vast majority of companies, the unlisted. It has, however, affected how those companies consider governance and boards by way of so called best practices. Governance has become, for many, a necessary evil of no real benefit.
Boards are the apex of companies, with a non-executive role that can accurately be described as governance, but there is a great difference between complying with governance rules to the letter and having true good governance. Having a board that is solely centered on control is grievously underutilizing its capacity. At ABA, we know companies can and should improve board performance to use 100% of their capacity and create high and quantifiable strategic impact.
This is especially true in unlisted companies where ownership and decision making is concentrated. These companies do not need complex shareholder representation structures, but they do need a group that will provide a sounding board, support and subject matter expertise to the CEO. This can be done through the conventional Fiduciary Board of Directors structure, but can also frequently be done as effectively through non-fiduciary Advisory Board structures.
It’s done by starting with the end in mind. A company needs to think of 3 things when considering its board: WHY, WHO and HOW.
First: WHY they want a board. What are the mid and long- term goals that a group of subject matter experts should help them to achieve.
Then, and only then, consider WHO to put on the board: people who will drive the company towards the WHY.
Finally, HOW to run an effective board process to maximize impact. What structure, meeting cadence, and the process before, during and after meetings.
From that background, let me pull out strands that are important as you consider being a board member. Again, start with the end in mind: WHY, WHO and HOW.
WHY do you want to be a board member? It should be to have a high impact on the company and yourself as well, through the learning this experience provides.
WHO should you want to be a board member for:
First, change your concept of the post from board member to board leader. Clubs have members. Boards need leaders.
Be a board leader where your experience and expertise is directly applicable and impactful to helping the company go from where it is to where it wants to be. Where you can be the right WHO to their WHY.
Be a board leader where you will not be alone as an independent thinker. WHO will sit around the table with you? Will it be enriching to you to sit with them?
Be a board leader where you see there is a good board process, a good HOW:
Where the role of the board is not only control, but also business strategy and growth; where the board is well run; where each meeting has a clearly set out agenda; where good documentation is sent out in time; where board, and board leaders are evaluated. And most importantly, where executives are prepared to listen and learn from their board.
Important steps to take to get the first board seat:
First, get trained. Governance organizations around the world offer this kind of training (more focused on traditional governance). ABA offers training as well, focused more around strategic impact and effective planning for getting that board seat.
Second, adapt your resume for board positions. Consider and highlight those areas of expertise that make you more unique. Go beyond strategic thinking and generalist knowledge to subject matter expertise.
Third, get involved. This can be done through mentorship programs for smaller companies or sitting on the board of an interesting non-profit.
Fourth, get networked. Talk to people like ABA, SF and other headhunters, PE funds that invest in company types where you could have impact, auditors and lawyers (who often act as board secretaries).
Fifth, review your contacts and talk to people who are directors, advisors or CEOs that you respect and who respect you, about the idea of having a board of directors or board of advisors – or a better one than they do now – and how this can make their company perform significantly better.
Sixth, don’t take the first board seat that’s offered without making sure you will be able to truly impact the board and the company as a board leader. Having that impact will be rewarding and make you feel engaged. At ABA we’ve found that the most important indicator of board effectiveness is board leader engagement.
Finally: Your most valuable and irreplaceable asset is your time, use it wisely.
Get involved with boards where you will enrich others and be enriched. Get involved with boards where you feel engaged. Get involved with boards where you will create true IMPACT.
The SpenglerFox Group is delighted to announce the appointment of Filip Lerno as Non-Executive Chairman, effective 1st February 2020. Filip brings over 20 years of experience within the Premier Search sector. He has worked as a Senior Executive at both Spencer Stuart and Heidrick & Struggles, specializing in the Private Equity and Industrial Practices where he successfully conducted a multitude of senior searches across EMEA. Born in Ghent, Belgium, Filip graduated in Law, Applied Economics as well as Port and Maritime Sciences from Ghent University. He studied for his post graduate MBA at the Vlerick School of Management. He is also an Alumni of Insead I.E.P. Program. As Chairman of the SpenglerFox Group Board Filip will work closely with the CEO and the SpenglerFox Group Management Team to support the future strategic direction of the business as the Group grows both organically and through well placed acquisitions. Jens Friedrich, CEO at the SpenglerFox Group said “I am delighted to welcome Filip Lerno onto the Board of the SpenglerFox Group. His experience in the world of Senior Search and Human Capital Solutions will act as an added impetus to our overall business offering to our Clients around the globe. He has a proven track record in connecting the best senior talents with the world's top companies and I am convinced he will be equally successful in helping us at SpenglerFox to implement our strategy and further grow our business. SpenglerFox is a global Executive Search and Human Capital Solutions consultancy with a coverage in 35 countries.
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Marta Skalska, Head of Research. It is with great pleasure that I announce our latest addition to the SpengerFox Group, Marta Skalska, who will assume the role of Head of Research. Marta will be based in Warsaw, one of our firms strategic hub locations and will be responsible for developing cutting edge and best practice research capabilities within the SpenglerFox Group. She will lead the initiative to ensure consistency in approach and systems usage across the group as we invest in best practice and research trainings, assuring delivery of best in class services. She will work closely with our Senior Management team to advise on recruitment strategy, sourcing tools and continuous improvement initiatives. Marta has over 14 years of experience in recruitment, specialized in automotive, industrial manufacturing, aerospace and defence, oil&gas and temporary assignments, gained from recruitmentcompanies in Poland and the UnitedKingdom. Started her career in temporary recruitment, then moved to sales and business development functions, working as 360 consultant, selling and working as an Account Manager on own projects, large accounts, also leading a team of recruiters. After returning from the UK to Poland she has worked for management consulting company within HR sector, supporting big outplacement project for steelwork factory and state-owned coal minery in Poland. Worked on HR strategy, trainings and workshops, organisational transformation, talent management, market mappings, job evaluation, assessment and development centres, audits, HR functions effectiveness, labour issues, took part in negotiations with trade unions. Last, almost 4,5 years she has spent working at Korn Ferry, where she was supporting executive searches across EMEA (mainly in Scandinavia, Benelux, Switzerland and Balkans) withinindustrialmanufacturing,aerospace, defence and automotivesectors. She has studied Law at Warsaw University. Marta speaks native Polish and fluent English. She livesby the motto ‚Do not overanalyze, lifeis simple.’
The Governance Revolution: What Every Board Member Needs to Know, Now! SpenglerFox CEO, Jens Friedrich, invites Deborah Hicks Midanek to discuss her recently published book 'The Governance Revolution: What Every Board Member Needs to Know, Now!' Deborah is a veteran independent director, a pioneer in the corporate restructuring industry, and a serial entrepreneur. Widely respected for her turnaround skills, she has diagnosed and remedied problems for over 60 corporations and facilitated the growth of nearly 30 other ventures, including her own. Described by the late Fletcher Byrom, CEO of a Fortune 25 company, as a “pure thinker” – quickly gaining a deep understanding of complex problems and demonstrating an extraordinary ability to assimilate information and craft resilient solutions. More_on_Deborah_Hcks_Midnek.pdf Size: 161 KB Deborah_Hicks_Midanek_Slide Deck.pdf Size: 920 KB