Behind Boardroom Doors: Lessons from a Corporate Director

Behind the Boardroom Door
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If you had the opportunity to share 1 quote with every executive in the world, what would that quote be? Concerns about activism and cyber breach. I think the new things that will hit boards in are addressing environmental, social, and governance issues ESG , having better crisis management plans, and rethinking how they allocate work between board committees. My lens gets foggy out in My guess will be understanding how to take digitization to the next geometric progression. To really understand advanced digitization, you need to look at China. It is incredible in Shanghai that nobody carries money, or a credit card, they only pay with their phone.

These types of major digital transformations will hit the North American market faster than expected and impact companies and boards to respond with unprecedented speed. My mother has been my best mentor. Margaret Thatcher inspires me. She was courageous in the face of a lot of pressure and criticism and stayed true to her values.

That you must follow up on everything, same day, with a thoughtful capture of the information that was shared and clarity on what the next step is and who will take the next step. Elisha Finney: Women see things differently. This helps the company in the long term. What is difficult is that I am always the one carrying the diversity stick. As the only woman on a board, you, at least initially, are in a fishbowl. Your peers scrutinize everything you say much more than if you were a male. We are treated respectfully and the male board members listen to us, but we miss out on conversations outside the boardroom. Over time—as our contributions become evident—we are treated much more as an equal and valued colleague. Laura Wright: Diversity matters a lot. Women make the majority of all buying decisions in everyday life.

In the boardroom, you need different perspectives on how to handle situations, especially how to deal with employees. The men on boards realize this, and it is very much a focus as companies determine priorities for board searches. Although the number of women on boards is relatively low today, I believe it will grow based on the increased emphasis and empirical data supporting the benefits and diverse representation. Mercedes Johnson: Women tend to be more intuitive in terms of reading situations and body language. That is one of the reasons why diversity matters.

We also tend to be more focused on human capital and recognize what it takes to work with people to get things done—and we bring this knowledge to the boardroom. We should not forget that companies are successful because of their people. Robyn Denholm: I think diversity of thought matters a great deal. The best way to get diverse perspectives is by having a group with different backgrounds, experience, industries, gender, ethnicities and knowledge.

Having dissimilarities makes for more robust conversations and probing questions.

Board members who sit on a number of boards add a lot to the mix because they can see interlinkages. Elisha Finney: The real challenge is getting on that first board. Find a small company in your industry and then use your network and a mentor to open a door there. Once you get on a board, you must work really hard. After the first board membership, the doors will open. If you are joining a board in a different industry, be sure to find the similarities between that firm and your current company and point those out during the interview process.

Before I joined the board of a technology company, I had not worked in the tech industry. However, the similarities between the two are many: We both are in a duopoly, our revenue is almost equal and we approach many issues in the same way. Laura Wright: Understand what kind of background a board wants. Your best bet is to have a specific, unique, marketable skill such as finance, marketing, operations, technology or human resources.

Develop relationships with recruiters. But more than relationships, you need to have the resume and skills and public company experience. Mercedes Johnson: Maintain relationships and build your network. Recruiting firms are continuously working with executives and conducting board searches.

Investment bankers are a good source of information as well. And law firms play a role in recommending or providing input on candidates. Robyn Denholm: First, you need to make it known that you want to sit on a board. Second, think about why you want to do that and what you bring to the table. Third, assess what you can contribute to your current role by serving on a board.

Finally, you should learn as much as you can about the company before espousing your opinions. When interviewing, you have to be curious and ask questions so you are satisfied that the management team has thought through its decision.

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It has to be clear what the role of the board is vs. You need to listen as much as talk. Are you ready to find a board position? Each individual will have different talents, contacts and interests.

Startup Boards: Board Functions and Responsibilities

But when you take a structured approach to board service and ask yourself important questions before you accept a seat, Mercedes Johnson believes you will find the best fit for your skills and stay mindful of your constraints:. Learn about the company, understand its challenges, assess what shareholders are thinking and look at its board composition.

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They were engaged in activities like coding iPads to control robots and collecting fingerprints as forensic scientists. Every one of the companies deals with labor unions, cyclicality, government regulations, customer service and high capital expenditures. Behind the boardroom door: Corporate culture. All rights reserved. Although it is helpful to join a board that is in an industry similar to one in which you have worked, you also want to make sure there is not a conflict of interest. If you are joining a board in a different industry, be sure to find the similarities between that firm and your current company and point those out during the interview process. Behind Boardroom Doors: Lessons of a Corporate Director Betsy Atkins, former CEO and experienced corporate director has candid and very practical advice for those who serve on the boards of big, complex enterprises.

Your experience as a board member will be unfulfilling unless you feel your opinion is valuable and you are sought out for advice inside and outside the boardroom. You need to think about not just what you want but where you can be of value to a company. What I like—and have experience in—is corporate reinventions and restructurings so I now look for opportunities where I can do that kind of work.

Third, consider time requirements. At one point, I was a founding executive at a company in addition to holding two board seats. How to Kickstart Your Digital Marketing. Tabitha Laser.

Go Behind Boardroom Doors with New “Online Business Reality Show”

Organization Culture Killers. Larry Vaughn. Business Cards and Shoe Leather. Andrew Tarvin. Todd Wilms. Beyond Product. Betsy Atkins.