We asked our interim finance director, Regina Lombard, to join our Be the Business Advisory Board programme for family businesses. The result? Reggie had one of the best days of her career.
With twenty years of finance experience across corporates, start-ups and SMEs, Reggie has valuable expertise to share with family businesses in our advisory board programme. Along with four other senior managers, she joined a board which provides two ambitious family firms, Direct2Florist and Wildsmith Hotels, with a year of professional input and support.
What is a Be the Business Advisory Board?
- Family businesses without a formal board structure can benefit from having their own board to call on for non-executive director style input
- The “board” comprises successful senior managers from companies such as Peel Airports Group, Cisco and CYBG
- The board meets once a quarter and runs for a year
- The programme is free, however participants will need to produce some reporting information
After the first advisory board session Reggie shared that it was one of the best days of her entire career. We dug a little deeper to understand what it’s like to be a board member on our programme and where you stand to gain. Here are just a few of Reggie’s key takeaways.
I prepared questions beforehand
“Before our first meeting the board members were provided summaries on the two businesses we would be working with. We all did some research beforehand and prepared questions. From a finance perspective I wanted to understand more detail – the metrics they use, where the revenue is coming from, and what’s really driving the business.”
I was nervous that I didn’t have enough sector-specific knowledge
“Before my first session I was a bit nervous because I didn’t have sector experience in either of the businesses. I didn’t know any of the other board members, nor their background, and I thought that my input might not be specific enough. However, I quickly realised that just having experience in business is valuable.
“Rather than sector specific questions we had a more general conversation about the business. Our aim was to encourage them to look at challenges and issues in a different way and to share our own experiences of what has worked and what hasn’t. With this kind of approach everyone has the ability to provide positive input.”
We had a free flow of questions
“I realised quite quickly that the business leaders didn’t have anybody else to talk to. Working in corporates there are lots of people you can discuss ideas with, but with smaller family owned businesses there is a limitation to where you can go for support.
“As a result, both businesses were very open and honest. We had a free flow of questions and the two SMEs were able to draw on our experience. It’s beautiful and enlightening to be in a room where there is no political or corporate agenda. Everyone is on the same page, they aren’t arguing or trying to win a point, and ideas are much more open.”
I learned more than I expected
“The first session was different to what I expected in that I personally benefited more than I thought I would. I gained valuable insight into how other SMEs are operating and learned from the other people on the board. They all have very different skill sets from me and operate in a range of sectors. They had fresh perspectives and asked questions that challenged me to look at the issues in a new way.”
You’re helping more than just the business
“There’s a feeling of satisfaction when you guide someone. When you help leaders to make good decisions for their business, you’re likely also helping others beyond them. What you may consider an insignificant piece of knowledge could lead to big changes and benefits for their employees, partner organisations and suppliers. It really is a pay it forward model.”
I can’t wait to see these two SMEs evolve
“Without exaggeration, this was one of the best days of my life at work. I’m really looking forward to seeing what will happen next with Direct2Florist and Wildsmith Hotels. I can’t wait for the next advisory board session.”