We asked Eric Maire to tell us about the big changes between yesterday’s governance and tomorrow’s. Why is there so much interest in being an independent director today?
Yesterday’s board members:
For me, most of the independent directors became independent by chance. Let me explain: there was no training for directors yet, some MBAs and some law schools dealt with governance issues but it was not the main focus. The only ones who eventually chose this path were lawyers or jurists.
It’s a job that you learn by doing because until recently, there was very little risk in sitting on a Board of Directors. There was no question of sustainability or inclusion, but simply ensuring that the returns were sufficient.
The board members of today and tomorrow
The law has been strengthened and now members of a Board of Directors have important responsibilities and can be sued civilly and criminally for the consequences of their decisions. However, there is now a strong interest in this profession.
I think that young people realized that it was at the level of governance that they could really change things. Save the planet. Decide what tomorrow’s companies will look like. What will they pay attention to before they even talk about profitability? What will their social roles be? Sustainability?
Companies are aware, or at least beginning to be aware, that in order to be sustainable, they must position themselves on issues related to these new themes. They are therefore ready to welcome new members to bring them expertise and vision in these different fields.
In your opinion, which governance model is the most appropriate today?
It is important to find the right balance between an ultra-rigid governance model, where operations no longer have any freedom, and a governance model of convenience, where nothing matters.
What skills do I need to be a member of a Board of Directors?
Minimum financial, legal and common sense skills. Moreover, being a specialist in areas such as digitalization, sustainability, economic crime (cybersecurity),… is a real plus for a company.
In addition, experience is a great asset. It is important to have operational experience in business management.
How do I become an administrator?
Often by opportunity. However, in order to keep your place, it is essential to continue training. The added value of an administrator is his understanding of the world around him. A world that moves at high speed. That’s why exchanging with other administrators helps to keep up.
This is one of the roles of the APIA Swiss association. In addition to promoting the profession of independent director, it offers internal training to its members. More exactly, self-training. The members present a theme to the others and then discuss the subject. Knowing how to take advantage of the skills of each expert is one of the great values of APIA Swiss. In fact, we are writing books to gather good practices in the area of governance.
What will tomorrow’s administrator look like?
He will be a passionate and visionary administrator who will have a real need to make things happen by being in action.
APIA Swiss Team