A Boost for your Boardroom
28 May 2020

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A Boost for your Boardroom

The recent Quoted Companies Alliance (QCA) Forum on ‘Building Better Boards’ identified many of the key issues facing boards today, including a lack of diversification on boards. The question is what constitutes diversity – it is not just gender, race or age, it is also diversity of thought, deed and action at board level… This is the very real issue that the Boardroom Ready Programme, developed and run by Smarter Networking, was created to address. 

What we do 
The Boardroom Ready mission is to bring talent, innovation and diversity into the boardroom. We work with employed senior executives from large corporations to match their skills and experience with non-conflicting companies just like QCA’s members, introducing them as ‘Board Observers’ for 12 months. The ‘Board Observer’ gains the experience of exposure to a real commercial boardroom, and the host board gets a wonderful opportunity to have new expertise and a fresh pair of eyes. Your board may feel constrained by director numbers or the significant cost of achieving the appropriate degree of diversity; this Programme offers an opportunity to add new skills without the longer term commitment to board changes.  
By meticulously matching each senior executive, based on their specific skill-set, as a ’Board Observer’ with what we term a ‘Host Board’ seeking just that skill-set, we strive to make a significant contribution to the next generation of leaders, and to bring real benefit to our Host Boards. 

What are the business benefits? 
As the Host Board, you benefit from:

  • Adding greater breadth of experience to the board tapping into a diverse set of new skills e.g. marketing, technology/ digitalisation, people etc.;  
  • Modernising the board with fresh perspectives and ideas from a younger generation;   
  • Adding a specific skill-set that may be missing currently from your board; and 
  • Potential for formulating a more robust succession plan.

The Boardroom Ready process, in association with NEDA
For many of our executive candidates, their next career development will be as board directors or NEDs, where they seek to gain wider, external commercial or industry experience in a non-conflicting sector. All are keen to develop and share their expertise at board level, with the ability to bring a new dimension to your business ambitions and growth plans.  
As an integral part of the experience, Boardroom Ready ensures the Board Observers are individually and meticulously matched with the right Host Board. In turn they are mentored and coached throughout the process, including having the opportunity to undertake ‘Essential Training for NEDs’, as part of the Non-Executive Director Masterclass, run in association with our partner, the Non-Executive Directors’ Association (NEDA). This can include working towards “The NED Certificate” which gives access to obtaining a copy of the latest edition of The Non-Executive Directors’ Handbook, now in its 5th edition. This helps to de-risk the process for the company (ensuring candidates know what the role entails), whilst giving the Board Observer greater confidence from day one of their new role.

A Boardroom Ready Programme for you
We are interested in talking to companies from a wide range of industries to become Host Boards, especially those that hold their board meetings in London or the home counties. The role of a Host Board is to offer the nominated senior executive with the opportunity to join the board assuming the role of a Board Observer completely free of charge for 12 months – this includes providing the appropriate paperwork and support that avoids the pitfalls of creating a legal director relationship or ‘shadow director’ position. The matching process must also work for all parties and during this period the executives are fully supported and funded by their own organisations, as part of their personal development, so there is no cost to your organisation. 

How we have delivered value
As examples of our success in bringing tangible value to our Host Boards a series of case studies are set out below: 

“The board thought taking on a board observer was an interesting concept though not realising the full potential this offers a small business like ours. … [Our board observer] brings with her big business thinking and planning whilst we offer her an agile way of approaching business plus boardroom experience to support her career. So, we have a win-win situation. The Boardroom Ready team take a careful approach to matching someone to a board, thinking through not only the skills and experience but the personality and fit with our business. In a short period of time we have already profited from this opportunity and would whole-heartedly recommend this programme to other boards seeking to widen their board skills and knowledge” 
Managing Director, leading developer and publisher of online professional development courses

“The process of finding an observer for our board was fast and painless, extremely professional and ended with us welcoming an executive of outstanding calibre to our board for a year. The new observer started adding value from the very first meeting and our company is benefiting massively from having the new recruit onboard and our contact with the Boardroom Ready team”  
CEO of major food production company 

 “We’ve found the whole experience to be hugely positive. Working closely with the Boardroom Ready team, we were able to define the support we were looking for at a board level and were quickly matched to a board advisor that had the relevant experience and could add real value to our board meetings. At the same time, we have been able to provide exposure to how we manage our business which is providing them with the experience they were seeking. Boardroom Ready has been a very valuable experience for us and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other … businesses looking for some outside perspective at their board meetings.” 
Director, award-winning digital consultancy

Next Steps

For further information please contact Heather White, CEO Smarter Networking: 
E: heather@smarter-networking.com
 T: 0777 585 5764