Community, relationships and knowledge were the key themes at the PICPA’s event Revolutionize Your Career: How to Land a Seat on the Board, held on May 30th at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. The Career’s & Lifestyle committee of the Greater Philadelphia chapter hosted Panelist Rich Haverstick, Charisse Lillie, and Jane Scaccetti along with moderator Jeff Constable to share their experiences and insights of serving on a corporate board. Ryan Lafferty, Partner at Attolon Partners and Chair of the Career’s & Lifestyle committee served as host of the event.
Rich Haverstick served in a variety of leadership roles at EY including Managing Partner of the Philadelphia office, Banking Industry Leader for the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions of the United States and Partner-in-Charge of Human Resources for the Mid-Atlantic regions. He is a current board member of Brandywine Realty Trust and BMT Multi-Cap Fund.
Charisse Lillie was a Partner at Ballard Spahr for 13 years and was a senior executive at Comcast Corporation from 2005 to 2017, including service as the SVP of Human Resources of Comcast Cable and VP of Community Investment of Comcast Corporation. She is a current board member of the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, PECO, an Exelon Corporation, the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, The Franklin Institute Science Museum and Drexel University Thomas Kline Law School Advisory Board.
Jane Scaccetti is the CEO and Shareholder of Drucker & Scaccetti, P.C. and has been a practicing CPA since 1977. She is a current board member of Temple University Health System, Myers International, Penn National Gaming, and the Philadelphia Center City District Foundation. Previously, Jane was a member of the board of The Pep Boys (NYSE: PBY) from 2002-2016 until it was sold to a private firm in 2016. She served as chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Nominations and Governance Committee. In 2017, Jane was selected as one of 20 Most Admired CEO’s in Philadelphia by the Philadelphia Business Journal and recognized by Accounting Today as an Elite Managing Partner.
Jeff Constable opened the event with statistics from the Spencer Stuart U.S. Board Index. According to the report the average age for a first time director is 55. The report stated that there were 397 new Directors with 45% of them serving on a public board for the first time. The average number of Directors on a Board is 8, which is an increase from 7 in the previous report.
Rich Haverstick began the discussion by sharing the advice he was given as a young partner at EY. “Get involved in your community and make a smart choice. Find an organization with a mission you support and give a little more than the next person.” Haverstick’s initial experience was on the Finance Committee for the American Red Cross. He said that the non-profit world made him a better professional and person.
Charisse Lillie agreed and added that starting in your local community and with causes that are important to you allows you to create a personal brand and to form connections through similar interests. Lillie encouraged the audience to put themselves out there, use your network, let people know you are interested and to know what your contacts do.
Jane Scaccetti agreed with the other panelists that relationships are the key to obtaining a board positions. She offered the advice of setting your own pace and that there is often no clear path. She agreed with Lillie to show interest and be subtle, finding the right fit takes time.
Before accepting a board seat the panelists strongly agreed that you must do your due diligence on the organization and the board. As a potential Director, you need to know the risk profile including the company leadership team, other board members, the industry, any conflicts you may have and the time commitment required of Directors.
The panelist emphasized that after accepting a seat it is your duty to stay educated on the company and the industry. Lillie stated, “Our obligation is to be prepared.” Scaccetti agreed and advised to trust in yourself and your education and knowledge. Adding, “Relationships get the introduction, skill base gets the position.”
The panelist concluded by reinforcing the need to be knowledgeable and relevant in your community. A successful board member should be a lifelong learner with leadership skills and the ability to cultivate both professional and personal relationships.