Our Search Practice: Boards of Directors
The first consideration is the focus of our search practice. Our strength is our experience and knowledge of a certain segment of the market: private, rapid growth companies and small-cap public companies. On occasion, we will become involved in building nonprofit boards.
There are numerous executive search firms who are more qualified and experienced doing work for mid-cap and large-cap public companies. A perfect example would be the international search firm Spencer Stuart, one of our sponsors and a partner in all of our board education efforts.
We have chosen this segment of the market; private rapid growth and small-cap public companies specifically because we have over 35 years in recruiting senior executives and board members for these companies. We understand their goals and can respond to their requirements, whether that is a specific type of board experience, an operating skill set or a qualified diversity board member.
The process begins with a discussion covering the mission of the company and the current requirements of the board, while looking forward perhaps five years. We seek input from not only the board itself, but senior management as well. We fully realize the final decision rests with the board.
At a minimum, an informal assessment of the current board will yield what skills are currently present among the members and what are lacking going forward. This can be technical knowledge regarding a product, market or operational challenge. Correspondingly, it may be a board level skill that is required, such as finance/audit, human resources or corporate governance experience.
Simultaneously, we will look very carefully at the personality of the board, both from a group and individual standpoint. While a new board member need not be identical to the others members, he/she must be compatible, cooperative and contributory. Anything else is a recipe for disaster and a strategic threat to the board and company. Excessive or short-term board turnover is a risk that must be avoided. Our recruiting interviews are followed by formal and informal board interviews. Meanwhile, we do extensive reference checks, many of which are based on the candidate’s existing or prior board experience. Our decades of executive assessment and board experience are a critical element in this process.
While the company’s assessment of the candidate is important, so is the candidate’s impression of the board. Will this board position satisfy the candidate’s goals and objectives and will these be compatible with the mission of the company? These are critical items which Daly & Company will investigate during the recruiting process.
In identifying potential candidates, we will utilize our significant candidate database but just as important, we will proactively network through the many directors we know personally and have worked with for years.
Daly & Company is involved in every step of the process and with every candidate under consideration. While our role as a recruiter is well understood, just as important is our role as a negotiator and buffer to the board. Often may appear to be a qualified candidate, could simply not fit from a personality standpoint. This rejection process must be done in a professional manner, insulating the company. This is our responsibility. Recruiting for a board position requires a search firm with a skill set not always needed in a standard corporate executive hire.
In summary, the process must be proactive in terms of recruiting and interactive in terms of communication, reflecting a thorough understanding based on experience of all the components impacting a board level search.