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Woodruff-Sawyer Board Panel: Part II

October 6th, 2009

            Last week I gave an overview of the Woodruff-Sawyer panel discussion that I attended, which focused on the process of Board of Directors seat selection and the considerations to pursuing such a position.  I had previously left off at the considerations and value of sitting on the Board for an external organization.  As Bruce Lachenauer had discussed during the panel, sitting on the Board for an outside organization brings great perspectives to the company you work for if you are functional executive. However, in consideration to this pursuit, there are a number of considerations.

Ø  If you are seriously looking at such an endeavor, it’s ideal to start front-loading that effort with your existing company, President, or legal counsel to ensure there won’t be any issues with such an engagement.

Ø  Typically, any external Board appointments need to be run through your internal Board, regardless if you are a sitting member or not.

Ø  Preliminary support from your President or CEO is crucial in such an effort. 

            Paul Folino, Chairman of Emulex Corporation, also discussed the merits of sitting on a Non-Profit Board. Folino felt that this was a great way to get the feet wet with Board participation, while also giving something back to the community. However, as Folino cautioned, “don’t expect that the work load of a Non-Profit will be less than that of a standard corporate Board”.  This was also endorsed by one of the members of the audience, who also had extensive Non-Profit Board participation.

 

            With regards to the selection process, Lachenauer did not feel that a separate resume was warranted for the process. In his view, he has to do as much, if not more, due diligence for Board selections than a standard executive search. If the resume is more an overview of candidate’s background then it will lack the details that are often the important selling points in presenting a candidate for consideration. The accomplishments are critical and will need to be shared, and therefore, should not be excluded from the resume. Further comments by Lachenauer included:

Ø  The selection process is intended to find a candidate that will be entering into a long-term relationship & participation on the Board. As difficult as the interview process can be, it’s just as difficult to leave the Board, which puts a heavier emphasis on the long-term views.

Ø  Board members are not going to find you…you need to find them. 

            As a response to a question regarding whether an individual should pursue a Board seat for a public or private company, Folino commented that “there should be no consideration to Public or Private, but that it should come down to your background and the experience that you will bring to the table”.  Tomorrow I’ll wrap up my notes on the panel discussion with an overview of the key areas to consider with respect to choosing a Board, the management of risk in such an appointment, and additional considerations before accepting an offer.

 

Thanks for reading . . . .

 

Jeffrey Ishmael

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