Mary Madden is the former President, Founder and Co-CEO of Information America and has worked with smaller companies like eAttorney and fabric.com. She’s served on private and public corporate boards. Madden is co-founder of the Atlanta Chapter of Women Corporate Directors for women on public and private corporate boards and was a finalist for Inc’s Entrepreneur of the Year. Madden gave us her valuable insights on about serving on a corporate boardroom during one of our past webinars. Here are a few of the important tips she had for our members:
BUILD UP YOUR PERSONAL QUALITIES
While there is a lot of technical expertise and high level financial literacy needed to be a successful board member, there are certain personality traits that come in handy. Madden told us that, “You have to be open to learning. You have to listen. You have to be willing to work hard because serving on a board is not a walk in the park, and you have to be able to learn how to deal with different personalities.” Of course your expertise and value will appear in your board documents, but these other qualities show themselves in interviews and through personal recommendations.
There are several benefits to serving on corporate boards, but one of the greatest for Madden was the learning component. Even being in company leadership for several years, her knowledge about companies continues to grow with every experience. “I’m still learning about different people, how people approach problems, different ways to solve problems,” said Madden. As corporate boards are thrown into situations or different scenarios arise, there are always members who step up. Seeing how those people operate and problem solve is a valuable resource that can be transferred to other businesses, even other industries as you continue to serve on boards.
BOARDS AND TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES
Madden has a particularly unique angle in how she approaches technological advances with companies. She says that this topic comes up a lot in the boardroom and directors are handling it differently depending on the situation. One piece of advice is to seek out expertise. Madden tells WIB that boards are, “hiring experts to come in and talk to them, getting a CIO in place, or getting someone on the board who’s a technology expert”. Additionally, several companies are investing in cyber security insurance, not necessarily for the insurance itself as much as the opportunity to have “the company come in and look at everything”. With those experts in the room, they can tell you what’s wrong and what’s not wrong and help companies deal with any problems that arise.
Watch our recorded webinar ‘Board Discussions with Christie Hefner & Mary Madden: Experts Weigh-In on What it Takes to Serve on a Corporate Board‘ to learn more about these and other board topics
For other webinars from Women in the Boardroom highlighting the various aspects of board service, get access to our library here.
The opinions and experiences expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Women in the Boardroom.