For a number of years I have met regularly with ‘James’, a Director of the company managing my small pension nest-egg. The meetings are unhurried and we have got to know each other well over the years. Before getting down to the bottom line, James will ask about the family, how my various interests are proceeding and the like. (He’s worked out that I am not interested in rugby so we don’t waste time talking sport!) Given that the company manages the assets of a fairly diverse client base I am always impressed either with his recall of personal details or that he swots up properly before my appointment!
Recently I was due to meet with James but he got called away at the last minute and I met with another Director, ‘Graham’, instead. ‘Graham’ and I had never met so he spent a fair amount of time getting to know me. As part of the discussion I mentioned that being retired I am involved with various charities and indeed was about to become chairman of a Christian charity. ‘Graham’ asked about what challenges I felt we faced. Amongst the usual difficulties in funding the organisation I mentioned that we were a small Board which needed to recruit another couple of Board members. I explained that we were all middle-aged or older and I would like to see some younger people join us, though I bemoaned the fact that it is hard to find young people with the time or interest to join Boards and Committees such as ours.
In the course of our conversation around the subject ‘Graham’ asked what I saw as being the ideal candidate(s). I responded that I would like to see a couple of members under the age of 35 with a background in business/finance (as the retiring chairman is an accountant and these skills needed to be replaced) and/or law. Gender balance was also important but the skills were of pre-eminent importance. Unfortunately, I suggested, such people were likely to be busy with their careers and not have the time to devote to committee work. I added that as we were a Christian organisation, Board members would need to be committed Christians, or at the very least regular church go-ers.
‘Graham’ agreed to let me know if any of his contacts or clients might fit the bill and we got on with the business at hand.
The next day I received an email from ‘Graham’. He had mentioned our conversation to the company’s CEO who had pointed out that they had just recruited a young man named ‘John’. ‘John’ was “involved in his church”, mid-20’s and had a finance degree with accounting papers. Whilst they understood that the selection was entirely up to us, they recommended ‘John’ as being worthy of consideration and indeed said if he were selected that they would see benefit in the experience of serving on our Board and would provide the time and resources for ‘John’ to fulfil his obligations.
‘John’ is now an involved member of our Board and is fully contributing to Board meetings and as an adviser to the staff in accounting matters. We are a Christian organisation and some might see coincidences … ‘James’ being called away … ‘Graham’ getting acquainted and asking the question about my activities then going on to mention it to the CEO … John being recruited to the company … John making no secret of his church involvement … the company seeing the benefit of Board experience and so on. Personally I see the Hand of God.
I also see the value of networking and being up-front about needs and opportunities. The attitude of the company in seeing the opportunities to develop one of their young staffers is refreshing and an example that other companies might like to follow as there are many organisations seeking to recruit younger Board members. I may just have to seek an appointment with our family law firm as we still have the second Board place to fill!
(names have been changed)
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