View from the boardroom: Craig Smith

Sep 3, 2019 | Sector & policy

As my four-year term on the ISE Board comes to an end I felt it appropriate to share some reflections and insight into the changes we have made to the board through the Nomination, Remuneration and Governance Committee (NRG) that I currently chair.

While the NRG might not sound like the most exciting committee in the world, it has proven very important to the running of ISE. The committee comprises three current Directors, the Company Secretariat and an ISE Fellow and was first established in 2016 to focus on giving clarity and professionalism to the topics suggested in the Committee name – we obviously went for a very ‘Ronseal’ committee title. One of the first areas of focus for the NRG was to fill five vacant board positions. To achieve this we took what we knew from our day jobs in recruitment and talent management and applied this in the context of ISE.

Firstly we designed and undertook a skills audit to assess the current capability of the board and identified any gaps that we would look to fill through this recruitment cycle. Next we ran a session with the board to look at those members who were already engaged in ISE. This included those engaged in leading sector groups, judging awards or sitting on conference planning committees, for example. This gave us a list of individuals to notify about the vacancies, in addition to opening the opportunities up to the broader membership.

This approach led to us receiving more applications than we ever have for board positions. We also used a two stage assessment process to ensure we were recruiting the best possible Directors onto the board, including a presentation on the strategic direction candidates felt ISE should take.

As a membership organisation, we have always looked to have a board that is representative of our membership. We have looked at this through the lens of the sectors we represent and the substantive roles we hold. Two areas of our membership were identified by NRG as being unrepresented, those being suppliers and universities. We therefore made constitutional changes to our articles of association and in the last recruitment round we recruited two supplier and two university board members who were appointed in January 2019.

The final significant change we have made was to redefine the role of a Fellow. This role had previously been reserved for previous chairs and CEOs of ISE, and we wanted to broaden this out to include those who had supported ISE and made significant impact on the industry.

We looked to make the process well defined and transparent, with a clear nomination process from the board to NRG. Following the first appointments to the newly defined role at conference we have learned from the process and will be making some small changes to tighten this up a little further; however, we are confident that our process is fair and robust and has led to the appointment of two worthy Fellows who are already supporting ISE in its business. We have also worked on a Patron’s role definition and appointment process, which we will be looking to deploy in the future.

Throughout my time on the board I have seen most of the board members change and the board evolve and feel that the role of NRG specifically has made significant progress in its ambition to professionalise the nomination process, remunerate staff and oversee governance across ISE. I would encourage anyone in a senior position within the sector who is looking for a role that is nothing like the ‘day-job’ to apply for a position on the board.

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