Experience with supervision is desirable or required in many vacancies for supervisory board members. In itself, it is logical and understandable that many organizations want experienced supervisory board members. As a supervisory board member, you are at a certain distance from the organisation you supervise. The advantage is that you can look at the organization with a clear view. At the same time, the biggest challenge is to have sufficient insight and distance from an organization is not necessarily an advantage. In that case, it helps supervisory board members that they can fall back on their experience and recognize certain patterns. The desire to attract experienced supervisory board members is justified.
Starting as a supervisory board member
If experience is required in many job postings, how do you build up experience as a supervisory board member? Many supervisory board members started their careers as directors. This is also reflected in the vacancies for supervisory board members If you have no experience as a supervisory board member, you are often a fully-fledged candidate with director experience. Another opportunity to gain experience is an internship on a supervisory board. More and more supervisory boards are taking advantage of this opportunity to attract new supervisory board members. However, it often depends on the organisation how this internship goes. As an intern, are you an almost full-fledged team member, or are you the fifth wheel on the wagon that takes care of the report and the coffee? Both scenarios and everything in between are reality.
In a world of accelerating changes, it is increasingly challenging for organisations to organise supervision properly. Additional expertise is always welcome, but how do you do this better? By making use of the existing structures and possibilities: committees.
Supervisory boards can be supported by committees. A survey of 100 recent job postings for supervisory board members in the Netherlands shows that more than 80% of organizations already have committees that support the supervisory board. The purpose of these committees is to advise the supervisory board on all kinds of matters such as finances, risks, remuneration of directors, etc. The committees prepare a piece of advice, and the supervisory board follows the advice or decides something else.
Committees for starting supervisory board members
These committees are very often composed of supervisory board members. However, no general legal provision exists that committees may only consist of supervisory board members. There is specific legislation for some sectors, but often there is not. This interpretation offers many opportunities to attract talent. As a starting supervisory board member, you can gain experience in contact with the external accountant by becoming an audit committee member. At the same time, you get to know the organization and the supervisory board while working as a committee member. This gives you a clearer picture of what is expected of you as a possible future supervisory board member.
There are also many advantages to this approach for the organization. That means committees are becoming a way to attract talent as advisors to the supervisory board. Not every committee member has to move on to the supervisory board. Committee members can supplement the existing supervisory board members’ competencies without making the supervisory board’s functioning more complex. At the same time, supervisory boards can better prepare for their succession.
Therefore, a warm appeal to organisations not only to use committees to make the internal functioning of the supervisory board more efficient but also to use them to attract additional expertise and talent and thus strengthen the future.