Top 5 Tips to Help You Become Financially Literate to Serve on a Corporate Board

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Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Co-founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

Every Board member has a financial oversight role. Even if you don’t have financial expertise, you are still expected to have a level of financial literacy. This means that you need to have an understanding of the fundamental concepts, conventions and principles underlying financial statements.

Top 5 tips to help you become financially literate for corporate boards:

  1. Develop a plan and begin the work. Begin by reviewing the annual filings of TSX listed companies that you are interested in.
  2. Look for a mentor or someone who has financial expertise. Ask someone you know that has financial expertise if you can spend time with them over the next year to help you understand financials.
  3. Do your financial due diligence before joining corporate board. Review the annual audited financial statements, quarterly financials, Management, Discussion & Analysis (MD&A) and forecasts/budgets to understand the company’s financial position.
    Ask yourself with the following questions:
    ~Is the company solvent?
    ~Are they complying with their loan covenants?
    ~What is the company’s shareholdings structure, are there Related Party Transactions, what are the outstanding commitments?
    ~What is the status of their tax and other filing requirements?
    ~Did they receive a clean audit opinion? If not, why and is there a “going concern” note disclosure?
  4. Understand the basic financial concepts/principles and the various financial statements. CPA Canada has great document you can refer to: https://www.cpacanada.ca/en/business-and-accounting-resources/financial-and-non-financial-reporting/international-financial-reporting-standards-ifrs/publications/reading-financial-statements-what-do-i-need-to-know-faq
  5. Understand the role of the board, of management and of the auditors in the financial reporting of a Corporation.

Getting financially literate takes time, focus and commitment.

Interested in Becoming Financially Literate? Registration is still open for Women Get On Board’s ‘Understanding Financials for Corporate Boards’ Workshop: http://bit.ly/UFWorkshop2Apr20

Don’t miss a chance to win a Free Board Planning Consultation from Women Get On Board!
Sign up for our mailing list, refer a new member, or become a Women Get On Board member before April 30th, 2016, and be entered automatically into a draw for the chance to win a free Board Planning consultation – a $500 value. Visit www.womengetonboard.ca to sign up, refer or become a member by April 30th, 2016!

 

 

Personal Branding to help reach the C-suite

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How do you get into a C-suite role? Do you navigate the politics and work hard? Do you take risks and pitch your own promotion? Do you streamline processes that saves millions of dollars? Do you manage a business unit? Sometimes it takes all of these plus more. Much more because the competition is fierce and only getting more competitive.

But the corporate team builders, creators and delegators of this world also have an edge and they use it to their full advantage: personal branding online. Yes, many of them make it a priority to get online.

After more than 10 years of working directly with CEOs and C-suite leaders, I have identified 5 personal branding characteristics they have in common:

– They articulate their strengths.

– They are consistent in their message.

– They deliver results and tell others about it.

– They work hard and go above and beyond.

– They get noticed.

All of these aspects of personal branding can be used online to amplify and speed up your own efforts for career advancement. How is it done? By promoting yourself online in a thoughtful and strategic way (often indirectly). Here are some strategies to help do the ground work for your personal brand online:

Articulate Your Strengths

What are you good at? What do you read that is work-related when you have a few minutes to yourself? What do people at work appreciate about you – and why do they refer you?

Once defined, articulate your strengths and gather specific examples:

– Instead of saying you are in internal communications, tell them you are a corporate writer who can inspire participation in company events.
– Instead of saying you are in HR, tell them you take policy and make it relevant to employees’ every day lives.
– Instead of saying you are an entrepreneur, tell them how your product or service creates change.

Write them down, then hone in on how you bring value. Make it memorable.

Online – what is out there right now that defines your strengths? How do you plan on reaching more people than your immediate circle of colleagues?

Be Consistent

No matter what the role, what you deliver consistently? What makes you dependable and trustworthy?

People who selected to advance are reliable, consistent and trustworthy – because someone else’s reputation is on the line if you are not a good fit for the role.

Online – do you present a consistent image that tells your story? Are you publishing content or speaking on a regular basis so people can get to know you and trust you?

Deliver Results and Tell Others

When you deliver on something significant, who notices? Do you tell anyone other than your team about your accomplishments? Do you schedule one on one meetings with your managers when you’ve completed a project? Or tell them that you’ve delivered value, saved costs or helped to grow your company?

Online – do you list your project or career accomplishments? Do you celebrate the wins in your working life?

Work Hard and Go Above and Beyond

Some will still say that the hours matter – but more importantly, how do you use those hours? Do you work hard to finish what you start and go beyond what was asked on your own time? How have you saved or made the company money this quarter? Have you delivered value to employees or helped morale? Did you volunteer for a committee in another department and gained some new work connections? Did you invite a client to an event, lunch or workshop on your dime?

Online – are you seen helping others, sharing information or answering questions?

Get Noticed

Many corporate executives in the C-suite will talk about an internal sponsor or champion who recommended they be considered for the top job (not a mentor, but a sponsor who knows your work and knows you would be a great fit!).

Attract potential sponsors by sharing your thought leadership. Thought leadership is your voice – your speaking engagements, your blog, your business community involvement, on topics relevant to your work environment.

Apply for awards if you haven’t yet been acknowledged within your company or industry – getting noticed means you must invest in yourself.

Online – websites, social networks and company intranets make it easy to share what is important to you to showcase your thought leadership. What are you participating in to get noticed?

Building your personal brand online has rewards that can come from the most unlikeliest of people and places. Take control of it and use it to advance your career into the C-suite.

Susan Varty is co-founder of Women Get On Board. She is a Digital Strategist and Corporate Writer with more than 10 years of experience working with individuals to showcase their accomplishments and thought leadership for career development.

Top 3 Tips for Building Your Board Profile

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Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Co-founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

Getting started on your board journey includes building a board profile. So, how does one go about it?  It starts with asking yourself what your value proposition is, and what unique skills and experience you bring to a board.

Here are my 3 tips for helping you build your board profile:

1. Define your unique value proposition

Boards are made up of a diversity of thought with members bringing different culture, experience, gender, ethnicity, age and geographic representation. So, what is it that you can bring to an already diverse board? What is your unique board value proposition?

Think of it like an “elevator pitch” where you have 10 seconds to tell someone what you bring to a board. In my case, I say that I have entrepreneurial and financial expertise with high growth and transformational companies in the technology, retail and consumer sectors.

2. Be true to what you passionate about

You need to pursue organizations that deal with what you are interested in or passionate about. For myself, I am passionate about dance. When I was asked to join Canada’s National Ballet School’s (NBS) Board, they asked me why was I interested in NBS, and I replied, “I always wanted to be a ballet dancer.”

Think about companies outside of your industry experience. It can be very rewarding to leverage your skills in a new industry with a whole new network and community to engage with. After spending over 20 years in the technology industry, I was asked to join a retail board, which made me excited because I love to shop. But, I am also a Canadian consumer so I understood that I could bring that perspective to the Board.

Get involved in your Alma Mater. Begin by serving on committees or councils to reconnect with your university and go back on campus. I started getting involved with Brock University by serving on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Goodman School of Business, then on the President’s Advisory Council and was then asked to join the Board of Trustees.

3. Research the companies or industries that you are interested in

Review their values, mission and strategy. Do they align with your own skills, experiences and values? Will you add value?

I always evaluate Board opportunities in three ways:

  1. How can I add value?
  2. Do I have a personal statement of the attributes I can bring to the board?
  3. How can I use my network to make meaningful connections to grow the business?

Building your Board profile is an ongoing process that takes time and takes focus. Good luck!

Interested in Getting Board-Ready? Registration is still open for Women Get On Board’s ‘How to get yourself on a Board’ workshop on March 30th:  http://bit.ly/March30Workshop

Don’t miss a chance to win a Free Board Planning Consultation from Women Get On Board!
Sign up for our mailing list, refer a new member, or become a Women Get On Board member before April 30th, 2016, and be entered automatically into a draw for the chance to win a free Board Planning consultation – a $500 value. Visit www.womengetonboard.ca to sign up, refer or become a member by April 30th, 2016!

Preparing for a Board Interview

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Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Co-founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

You have been asked to a board interview. Congratulations!  Now that you have landed the interview what do you need to do to prepare? A board interview is similar to job interview in that you want to put your best foot forward. Where board interviews differ is the preparation from a governance point of view rather than from a management viewpoint.

Top ten tips to help you prepare for a board interview

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Like a job interview, you want to come prepared to your
    board interview. Make sure you know what members of the Board you will be meeting with. Know their background, experience and skills. Find out who the independent board members are and what the ratio of executive to non-executive members is.
  2. Gain a strategic understanding of the company. What are the opportunities and challenges that the company is facing? Is the company going through transformational changes, or high-growth through acquisitions?
  3. Research, research, research. Do your due diligence. Go on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) and read the company’s latest annual report, annual proxy circular, quarterly filings and press releases. Also check out the company’s social media and what is trending online about the company.
  4. Know your value proposition. What value-add you will bring to the board? For more information see my blog on Preparing Your Board Resume.
  5. Understand conflicts. Ask for their corporate calendar and make sure it doesn’t conflict with your other current boards — also ensure that you have the time to commit to this board. Are there other conflicts that you have to be concerned with like your current employer, financial or related parties?
  6. Understand the culture of the board. Where do you fit in? Look at the current board composition and their board diversity policy. What would it mean for you if you are being considered to be the “first” woman on the board? Ask questions about your fit. Find out how the board works together. Is it collegial? Does the board evaluate its own performance?
  7. What board committees exist? What committee(s) would you be considered to join?
  8. Know your expected contribution. Why did the company identify you as a board director candidate?
  9. Compensation. Review their board compensation in their annual proxy circular. Is there an expectation to purchase shares?  Is the compensation in line with your expectation? How often do they do a board compensation review?
  10. Practice, Practice, Practice.

If you are interested in learning more about preparing for board interviews and building your board profile, please sign up for Women Get On Board’s How to get yourself on a Board workshop on March 30, 2016: http://bit.ly/March30Workshop .

Refer a new member (or become a Women Get On Board member) before or on International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2016, and be entered into a draw for the chance to win one free ticket to a Women Get On Board workshop of your choice – a $300 value. Email connect@womengetonboard.ca to refer someone or join Women Get On Board by March 8th, 2016!