ERA1 Apr, 2004 By: Response Contributor Response
Nominating Committee Chairs Break Down ERA's Board Nomination Process
Last month, Response magazine reported on the Electronic Retailing Association's (ERA) Board of Directors and the effectiveness of the organization's election process. While the overwhelming consensus believes the process is fair in selection and transparent in nature, direct response professionals need more information on how leadership is chosen from the general membership.
Therefore, ERA sat down with three of its Nominating Committee chairs - current chair Jorge Hane, and past chairs Rick Petry and Rollie Froehlig - to learn first-hand what happens behind closed doors and which personal and professional characteristics are sought for ERA leadership.
ERA: What, personally, do you look for in a candidate when making a nomination recommendation?Hane: I look at many things when considering a candidate for nomination. For example, I am interested in selecting someone who is involved in the organization and is looking out for the best interests of the membership, with no personal agenda attached. I look for someone with a strong commitment to ethical business practices, who also has vision, leadership and wisdom. And as a board member akin to the organization's strategic objectives, I am dedicated to seeking candidates who reflect diversity in order to enhance representation from multiple direct marketing media and traditional advertisers alike using the power of radio, television and the Internet.
"I look for someone with a strong commitment to ethical business practices, who also has vision, leadership and wisdom." -- Jorge Hane, 2003-04 Nominating Committee Chair
Petry: The first thing I look for is a willingness to put the best interests of ERA before any individual self interests. This is the most crucial element to ensure that board representation truly has the best interest of the organization at heart. Secondly, bringing successful business acumen is paramount to give the membership guidance for success. Additionally, commitment to volunteerism is also important, as is a willingness to allow all staff to get involved in the organization.
Froehlig: When [we selected] candidates, objectivity [was] key, but we also looked to make sure that the board was comprised of different types of DR professionals. We wanted to make sure we had proper media company coverage and an adequate number of marketers, etc. You know, we wanted to be as diverse as the membership was itself; however, we needed to remember that diversity wasn't the only factor. Capability, original ideas and who would make the best board member are the most important characteristics of a good candidate.
"It is up to the membership to elect the right individuals to serve on the committee who bring with them a solid reputation to make good choices." -- Rollie Froehlig, 2001-02 Nominating Committee Chair (replaced Bill Hay as chair)
ERA: The committee is responsible for developing nomination criteria. What is the method behind this process and what are the most important criteria in your estimation?Hane: Each year, the Nominating Committee develops criteria they feel is of great importance to the organization overall. This year, the committee based its selection on nominating criteria from previous years, the mandate from the board on strategic objectives, and what the committee felt is best for the membership as a whole.
Petry: When the ERA began as NIMA back in 1991, the organization's focus was DRTV, especially infomercials. However, as the ERA has matured, there are many other spokes to this business, like DR radio and Internet retailing. These entities have changed the industry forever, and you want them to have a voice within ERA, especially if we are going to expand and grow as an organization. Therefore, developing criteria that tries to incorporate diversity is critical. But if all your energy is focused on diversity, you'll miss other crucial characteristics. The level of commitment is huge when determining nominations, as well as willingness to donate time and energy.
"It is very difficult to issue mandates that require 'new blood,' as it is most important that the appropriate skill sets are involved when selecting board candidates." -- Rick Petry, 2002-03 Nominating Committee Chair
Froehlig: Having served on the Nominating Committee for three years, I must say that, overall, we looked for individuals who represented different facets of the industry who we felt could contribute to the board. We strived to find people who would ultimately take a step back and consider ERA's needs before their own company's or their own personal gain.
ERA: Regarding the nomination process in general, what new elements should be incorporated to make the process more transparent?Hane: The process currently in place is functioning effectively, and transparency is definitely there. So far, I have not seen any need for any new elements.
Petry: You need to get more people involved who are new to the industry and the process. Right now, only a handful of ERA members participate, and once more individuals experience it for themselves, they will be able to understand the process and evangelize it to other members. It is very easy to criticize what you don't understand. However, I believe this is a transparent organization and the more you get people active, the more they will be able to see this.
Froehlig: The nominating process has improved as much as it possibly can and truly works well. It is up to the membership to elect the right individuals to serve on the committee who bring with them a solid reputation to make good choices. If I had to mention a negative, I would say that before the process is finalized, additional membership communication should occur to increase participation.