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Lessons from the Boardroom

Mentoring the next generation of Directors –  the Corporate Governance Institute event, 18th February 2021

Aegis Communications intern, Bernice Antoine shared the key takeaways from last week’s event at the Caribbean Corporate Governance Institute session titled, ‘Lessons from the Boardroom’ highlighting key points from Robert Riley, former Chief Executive Officer of bpTT and current Chairman of Chair Massy Holding Board’s Governance, Nomination, Remuneration committees and top tips from our Chairman, Angela Lee Loy, an avid advocate for women and youth on boards.

Control the Agenda

Riley admitted that most directors have trouble letting go of the role of a manager and assuming a more supportive role – an issue of micromanagement. This can be resolved by re-imaging the agenda. Directors must spend less time on oversight duties and focus on the strategic future of the business.

‘Directors need to start looking forward and pull the management into periodic looks of the future, getting in front of challenges and not being reactive.’ explained Riley.

Talent Development

Another aspect that must be added to the agenda is succession planning. Robert discloses that in the Caribbean directors tend to serve on boards beyond realistic time limits. He urged directors to evaluate if they are still adding value to their board. He recommended the implementation of term limits policies and deliberate succession planning.

Robert Riley expressed that the most successful directors hardly ever discuss the things that they have done, but rather the people they have helped develop. This is the mark of a great leader.

‘Nothing is more rewarding than seeing people fulfil their potential – they always talk about people they watch become the next generation of leaders – the joy of talent  development – it’s how you give back and how your legacy lives – growing talent that supersedes you” 

The emphasis on talent development is part of the ‘leadership mindset’ as expressed by Robert. Other pieces of this framework include the ability to listen to the quietest voices. The greatest mistake comes from not listening and ‘leading with enquiry instead of conclusions’. 

Diversity on Boards 

Robert admitted that though society has a long way to go to achieve gender equality, directors need to lead by example. This can be accomplished by the following methods:

  1. Change the mindset of current directors
  2. Introduce new principles
  3. Include women on interview panels for directors
  4. Expand the criteria should be expanded.

Our Chairman, Angela Lee Loy shared her support for this perspective as women have more empathy than men. When asked, “How can young people position themselves for the boardroom?’ the panellists shared the following:

  1. Put yourself in a position to be noticed
  2. Understand what is required and build the skillset
  3. Keep networking
  4. Do the work consciously and unconsciously
  5. Let people know you are interested- put yourself forward to influencers and your network
  6. Project yourself 5-10 years into the future
  7. Volunteer on NGOs
  8. Gain sufficient breadth and experience to make oneself attractive to the board

Lee Loy also shared that directors must be prepared for young persons on Boards. Directors must know how to engage young people because they help fill important gaps.

For more events from the Corporate Governance Institute visit Caribbean Corporate Governance Institute (CCGI) – Home (caribbeangovernance.org)