Mark Thomas - New Mayor for Auckland

Getting The Right Skills To Govern

I’m a member of the Institute of Directors and I went to their panel discussion tonight on, among other things, how to find the right skills for a board.

Four people experienced in recruiting directors for private, public and not-for-profit entities spoke about the key dimensions shareholders (or ratepayers) should expect to find in those who govern the organisation.

The panel said strong governors need a technical capability (a core skill that’s valuable to the organisation), good behaviours/emotional intelligence and an understanding of governance principles.

But the dimension that struck home for me most was what one said was the growing importance of sector or industry knowledge. Actually understanding an organisation, based on experience working for it or similar, was very important to governing it well.

Now this doesn’t mean that someone can’t come from outside and make a specialist contribution. But the evidence indicated that those who are most effective governors, are experienced in the “industry” they are seeking to govern.

A key reason why I am running to be Mayor of Auckland is because I think, to be most effective, our next Mayor needs to be someone who has detailed knowledge of our “industry”. In my case, that has come from five years work as part of Auckland Council – and fifteen years in a range of complex public and private organisations prior to that.

It was good to have the importance of this area confirmed tonight.


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