Should You Take on a Board Member with Little to No Boardroom Experience?

board member

This episode discusses bringing in new board members who have plenty of experience in the industry, but little in the boardroom. We are joined by members having decades of experience in boardrooms across different industries.

Jeff Thompson has served on the board of directors for ten years at Edelbrock Corporation. He was responsible for all financial reporting and served as shareholder liaison. He was also a board member of the executive, compensation and audit committees.

Jeff gives his thoughts on the matter:

You’d have to give the opportunity like on any type of business; it’s kind of like a sport or something. You got to bring in new people. They may not have the experience but you may find sharp, intelligent people with a pragmatic business mind, and they’re something you can groom and mix with a combination of experienced board members. You can often train your novices or interns as you might call them, and to have groomed and give them the experience and plus your guidance for the future. So I think it’s good to have an adviser or someone on your board that may not have had the experience, and that they haven’t been set in their old ways enabling them to give you their independent feedback.

Ginger Silverman is a 25-year veteran specializing in marketing and regeneration. She has served on multiple advisory boards and boards of directors for private, public and non-profit companies. She says:

When you bring on somebody that doesn’t have prior experience, it’s really important to give them a starter kit, a guideline. Some very clear instructions as to the purpose of the board. It’s not just everybody getting together to you know to talk about, to look at sales. These are the objectives. And to run it very strategically and if you do that and the person is willing to participate and learn the process then that could be effective. I run into that a lot with these wonderful family businesses, and they have to learn how to manage themselves within meetings, much less an advisory board meeting. So having some guidelines and some clear objectives that get reiterated and then feedback, giving feedback to new people if they’re on the board, and their behavior isn’t productive. You need to be able to give them feedback right away so that they can learn.


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