What inspired you to become a member of the Virtual Advisory Board community?
For over a decade, I have served on the board of directors of a non-profit organisation that raises funding to allow students from lower income families in Nepal to attend school when the costs would otherwise have been prohibitive. I have served for several years as one of the first Independent Board Directors for a private company that sells assistive equipment throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, providing guidance on overall corporate governance, risk management, succession planning, strategy, and supply chain. More recently, I joined the Board for Atlanta Technology Angels, an association of angel investors funding start-ups. I have enjoyed these experiences and the organisations have thanked me for my contributions. Based on that, I have determined that I would like to help additional companies as a Board Director. As part of that, I would like to increase my knowledge of best practices in the boardroom and have an opportunity to interact with people familiar with them. In researching organisations, attending virtual meetings, and talking to members, VAB seemed to provide both of those benefits and more! So far I have been able to connect with a number of impressive and helpful VAB members.
In what area do you feel board advisors can add the most value for Boards of Directors (BoDs) and executive teams?
Independent Board Directors help companies succeed in a number of ways. If chosen correctly, they can provide a variety of perspectives, experience, and skills that complement what the company and its executives already bring to the table. This is especially true when companies look beyond their specific industry segment for board members with relevant, but not identical, backgrounds. Such efforts allow the company to benefit from past learnings across a number of industries and career paths. In addition, the right Board Directors can share much needed knowledge on the many new challenges companies are now facing (such as ESG, cybersecurity, supply chain risk, etc.), but that they may not have expertise in.
What would be your dream company/organization to work with as a board advisor/NED?
Based on my background and experience, I can best assist companies that design, manufacture, assemble, distribute, or sell products (although I surprised myself earlier this year by providing an app startup company guidance which the founder liked so much that he pivoted the company’s focus!). A dream company would be a growing business with lots of opportunities and the accompanying challenges to address. The ability to help such a company through their global operational and risk management decision-making would especially appeal to me.
What book would you recommend to VAB members that might improve their skills in corporate
governance, board advisory or boosting board-to-executive team communications?
I have educated myself a lot in order to improve my knowledge of company governance and effective board operations. I would like to recommend two books, written in different styles. In Claiming Your Place at the Boardroom Table: The Essential Handbook for Excellence in Governance and Effective Directorship, Thomas Bakewell and James Darazsoi write about the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of a board director. Betsy Atkins’ Be Board Ready: The Secrets to Landing A Board Seat and Being a Great Director also provides a lot of useful information and I particularly like the case studies.
Follow Steven Lustig on LinkedIn.