What are Some of the Non-Negotiable Skills for Board Members? — In Conversation with Al B. Reid
There is a common understanding in business literature worldwide — board diversity and board members with international work experience are closely associated with positive outcomes for organizations. Those having international work experience can better cope with the complexities that arise in any corporate board. The mindset and experience prepare these individuals to deal with crises, make strategic decisions, create innovative solutions, and understand the needs of people well.
We are in conversation with Al Reid — a global transformation and strategic executive. Al has worked all over the world and has formulated and executed global growth strategies that resulted in improved and sustainable business performance for enterprises. Al shares with us how his global experiences have shaped his worldview.
Al, you are currently serving on boards, and plan on continuing to do so. What is your approach in the boardroom? According to you, what are “non-negotiable” qualities for board members?
“In my 35+ years in business, I have witnessed many stages of company growth — from organic to inorganic for both domestic and international businesses. My experience in formulating business strategies has allowed me to drive large scale transformations for new business units in new geographies while ensuring commercial effectiveness and sustainable profits. As a corporate strategist and business development professional, I have a proven track record of changing the trajectory of organizations, inspiring teams, and reinventing business models. As a result, I have been successful in filling product pipelines through timely acquisitions, alliances, and partnerships all of which have resulted in improved market positions and increased revenue. Serving on boards has given me a better perspective on the importance of this kind of oversight and how it can lead to desired results for organizations.
“All the skills and experiences I have gathered during my career can be effectively applied to a boardroom — my current board positions are proof of that. Building strong relationships is of the utmost importance. Connecting with other board members and creating a strong foundation built upon a common understanding and united vision for the organization is key. That human connection — derived from being open-minded and agile — is crucial to the success of the board in doing what is best for all stakeholders.
“Another skill one must possess in the boardroom is that of asking the right questions. Although I am not a subject matter expert on all topics, if there is something I don’t know, I am not afraid to ask questions, spark meaningful discussions, and even challenge my peers if need be. Such conversations are a healthy way of understanding each other, learning about new things, and collaboratively working toward the goal of the organization.
“When serving on a board — I bring to the table key general management skills, the know-how of scaling for growth, talent development, and the curation of a culture that demands innovation. It is important to bolster discussions on strategic directions — and I have facilitated those in the boardroom.
“Furthermore, all growing organizations are fueled by newer age thinking — millennials and Gen Zs bring innovation, creativity, and a fresh perspective into business. That being said, in many ways their approach greatly differs from prior generations. Given my experiences that spans over decades, I have had the opportunity to coach and mentor different generations and management teams alike. My ability to work closely with different groups and business cultures while leading candid conversations has allowed me to better impact growth strategies.
“My current board work is focused on expanding the value of large, complex organizations through operations and culture transformations. Another focus for me on a board is Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) matters. All aspects of ESG are extremely crucial in today’s world and need to be given a special focus at the board level. This is an aspect I incorporate into my board roles, whilst simultaneously ensuring profitability.”
Thanks for sharing, Al.
Al B. Reid - High Achiever and Strategic Business Partner
High Achiever and Strategic Business Partner - Al B. Reid