Attend every meeting, use a board to fill in the gaps in your team and don't be afraid to ask obvious questions. That was just three of the tips for success at the recent Women on Boards: Boardroom Conversations event.
As Women on Boards aims to helps women develop the skills and confidence to take on Board level positions at any level from FTSE100 organisations to charitable/government bodies, the event at the PwC Edinburgh office saw a mixture of experts share their advice.
The three speakers were Vicky Brock, CEO of Clear Returns, Stephanie Fraser CEO of Bobath Scotland NED at the Neurological Alliance of Scotland and Ann Allan a trustee of the Ethical Property Trust.
All three speakers shared insights from their experience of being on boards, as well as some practical advice for those in the audience considering a board position. All three speakers had difference perspectives, which brought a richness and diversity to the discussion.
Having set up Clear Returns relatively recently, Vicky Brock advised start up companies to really think about what they could get from their boards, over and above the compliance and oversight.
When setting up Clear Returns she had really valued the longer term view her board were able to give her, and doing some of that strategic thinking for her, as she dealt with the day to day challenges of setting up a company. She advised anyone thinking of starting up a new business to think about the gaps in the management teams skills, and how could your board compliment that?
Stephanie Fraser, CEO of Boabath Scotland and Executive Board of the Neurological Alliance of Scotland and a member of the Horsecross Arts Board, started her board career on the board of a family business. She shared some of the challenges of making an impact in that environment, but it gave her a taste for sitting on a board and being able to influence, shape and "get involved" in things she really cared about.
Her top tips were; when you are looking to move on from a board make sure you find your successor, never miss a meeting as you don't know what you might be volunteered for in your absence, but most of all "be nosy, be interested, and be keen to make a difference". Her advice for those looking to join a board where to look for vacancies as boards increasingly advertise these, though organisations such as Women on Boards, and that 85% of Scottish charities have a change in trustee(s) on an annual basis so there are plenty of opportunities.
The final speaker, Ann Allen, is a trustee of the Ethical Property Trust and has just taken up a role sitting on the property committee for the National Theatre of Scotland as well as being a member of the Board for Construction Scotland.
Ann talked at length about the value that the lay members brought to her boards; both in terms of the variety of their experience and perspectives, but the willingness to ask the obvious questions. Her view is that being on a board is not only an exercise in what "you can bring to them, but also what you get from the experience", and particularly for those who balance board position(s) alongside a day job. Ann's experience is that seeing both sides has brought real diversity to her thinking.
To register for the next event, please go to the Women on Boards website.