Float shape

Adrian Sallis

Nov 10, 2023

Association Governance - A CEO's Perspective Part II


The following is Part 2 of a 4-part interview series with Robyn Pickerill, the CEO of the Franchise Association of New Zealand. Our conversation centred around her experience of Governance and board management. She also shares tools and advice that Association CEOs, especially new ones, will find useful.

You can read the other parts of the interview here:

Part I      Part III      Part IV


Robyn Pickerill - FANZ Logo

Are your board meetings face-to-face?

Except for during COVID, we have always tried to hold meetings face-to-face. If there's a compelling reason to get together between meetings, then we'll hold that meeting online to discuss a specific topic. Some of our Board members come from out of Auckland so it can be very helpful to run a quick meeting online.

Our set Board meetings are generally for four hours and are all in person. If a board member cannot make the meeting due to being offshore or for other compelling reasons, it is possible for them to zoom into the meeting. This has been done on occasions, but it would be fair to say that this is not ideal. When there are six people sitting around a board table and one trying to listen in, it can be particularly difficult for the zoom participant to hear if there is cross chat, or if the microphone isn’t picking everything up. They can feel a little aloof from the meeting.

Meetings have been held online occasionally, but I think if you're going to do them online, you've got to keep them to about an hour at most, because people's concentration just goes, and you don't achieve the interaction that you'd like. Our preference is definitely to hold Board meetings in person.

Do you use any tools to manage governance, share agendas, minutes and so on? 

Yes, we do actually. About three years ago FANZ signed up for BoardPro, after investigating a couple of alternatives.

As an association we are very careful with the money that we're spending, so for us, when we researched the options, it was both about functionality and affordability. I find it a great tool to have now that we've got it in place, but it took us a little while to get operational, simply because it required us to set personnel resources aside to focus on the set up.  My advice to any other association is to set it up in a quiet time and maybe run it in parallel to your current standard processes until you are confident you have it tailored to your needs.

All the minutes, resolutions, the interest register, the action list, and many other key board documents are all stored in BoardPro, which makes for extremely easy accessibility for all Board members. BoardPro also runs a lot of seminars and programs so new board members could probably find an appropriate session such as "what do I need to know as a new board member”.  A very useful resource indeed.

Do you have a process in place for evaluating the performance of the Board through BoardPro or something else?

I don't know the answer about Board Pro, I've never investigated it. And no, there isn’t a formal process for the evaluation of the performance of the board. Our door is always open for any member to share ideas or concerns.

How do you prepare for board meetings?

I do have my own basic system. I always aim to get the board papers out on the Thursday or at the latest on the Friday, the week before our meetings, which are held on a Wednesday. I like to get them out prior to the weekend so that board members have all the information well in advance of the meeting. My reasoning for that is, that if I'm on the other side, as in a board myself and people sent me information the night before, I just would not have time to be properly prepared.  This has happened on other boards I have been involved with.

It’s also important to consider that when it's a voluntary role, which it is for our board members, it’s possible the only time they are going to have to look at the papers, is either in the evening or on their weekend. 

I plan my diary well ahead of time and block out a day and a half, the week prior to the board meeting to get everything ready. It might not take me a day and a half, but with other interruptions and unexpected happenings, I find it beneficial to fully block the time out, so that this is my time. I find if I don't give myself enough time to be prepared, then I would get a bit flustered. I like to be very prepared.  

That said, well before the time of the meeting, which is approximately, once every six to eight weeks, I'll have the board agenda to hand, and if I think of something that I need to update or pop onto the agenda, I do it then and there, this way I don’t forget important matters. 

The finances obviously can only be done after the end of the month, so they aren't ready until about the fourth of the month anyway. Our meetings are always in the middle of the month to give us time to get the finances prepared.

Does the board software help with that? 

All meeting information is delivered through Board Pro and our Office Administrator helps keep BoardPro up to date. 

I don't know if this is unusual for a board, but I currently take the minutes of the meeting myself.  I have my own system and format for board minutes that I much prefer over BoardPro (Boardpro has very limited formatting capabilities), so I will do the minutes in my easy format and forward them to our office administrator to format into BoardPro. 

I always get the minutes out as quickly as possible. With a meeting on Wednesday the board will often have the minutes on Thursday afternoon or by Friday midday at the latest.  Again, I block out my diary specifically to get this job completed. There are several reasons for that. People's memories are over committed so if you get the minutes out straight away, memories are fresh. I ask all board members to send any corrections asap so these can be dealt with, and this saves unnecessary time at the following board meeting. Also, in the busy role of leading an association I have no idea when I would get the minutes done if I wasn’t disciplined in blocking out this time, immediately after the meeting.

There are of course other ways to do it, I know some organisations have minute secretaries. We've considered that, but part of me thinks that a lot of people would not understand the nuances of what's being said at the meeting. The challenging part of taking the minutes can also be the cross chat that happens, which whilst often very interesting, can get the agenda off task and make the minute taking more challenging. That said, I would be very willing to consider a minutes’ secretary. Ultimately it probably comes down to training the right person for a minutes’ secretary role and whether you have the personnel or financial resources available.

Do you record the meetings? 

No, we don't. I'm not sure how common that is. In my view, sending out the minutes for revision promptly confirms the discussion and frankly, I do not have the time to listen to up to three or four hours of a meeting to confirm what was said. Minutes are about capturing key information, decisions and actions not recording detailed conversations.

There may be technologies now that can assist with minute taking but to date, we have not tried anything and as I have said earlier, I doubt that the nuances that are particular to each association could be understood and transcribed by a third party or an AI tool. That said I would be interested to hear what others are doing and review a tool if it was recommended.

Like anything, there's no one right way to do things, and I think you've just got to find what works for you within the resources that you've got and try to be as efficient about it as possible.

I'd have to say, with the over seven years that I've been at FANZ, it's very rare that significant changes are made to the minutes. Occasionally there is a minor tweak and that's fine. If the change is advised promptly, I find that very helpful. 

Continue with the interview

You can read the other parts of the interview here:

Part I      Part III      Part IV

Share the Blog:

Association Governance - A CEO's Perspective Part I

Association Governance - A CEO's Perspective Part III

Shape logo place
Shape logo place

Leave a comment

Union 31

Related Blog Posts

Adrian Sallis

Apr 9, 2024

Associations today are finding innovative ways to generate non-dues revenue while...


Apr 4, 2024

In today's competitive landscape, associations are continually seeking new ways to...

Alle Reid

Mar 28, 2024

When it comes to maximising non-dues revenue for associations, sponsorship opportunities...

Shape logo place
Top shape

Subscribe Now!

Keep up to date with Intuto's blogs.