How to Choose a Board Member

How to Choose a Board Member
Mary Good, a former board member of Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock.

When it comes to serving on a public company’s board of directors, one size doesn’t fit all.

“You want busy people, but you’ve got to have people that when they can [serve] carve out the time necessary to do a good job,” said Mary Good, who previously served on the board of directors at Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock.

The Rev. Christoph Keller III, who sits on the board of Deltic Timber Corp. of El Dorado, said boards were looking for someone “with the right mix of experiences.”

“Not everybody has to be a financial expert, but you have to have some financial expertise,” he said.

He said the board member nominee should understand the industry in which the company is involved, its history and traditions.

“You need to have people who have good business judgment,” Keller said, “and then normal things like honesty and integrity and being able to disagree with somebody without getting mad at them.”

Dennis Foster of Cle Elum, Wash., who is a director on the board of Windstream Corp. of Little Rock, agreed with Keller and said that when replacing a board member, the other directors are looking for someone with a variety of experiences.

Someone with good financial acumen could serve on the board’s audit committee and recognize potential risks to the company, Foster said.

Or the board might want someone who understands corporate government issues or has a specialty in such fields as marketing, he said.

“What you’re looking for is having a board that’s well balanced in all areas and works well together and really protects the shareholders’ value,” Foster said.