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Views from the Boardroom

Charlotte Sibley’s View from the Boardroom

Independent Board Director, Advicenne S.A.
VIP Member, Women in the Boardroom

 

 

Charlotte’s Keys to Success:

  1. Network, network, network
  2. Be yourself

 

What made you decide that you wanted to become a corporate board member?

As I was preparing to leave the corporate world, I looked at various options. I had served on many organizational and not-for-profit boards and loved the opportunity to make a different kind of difference. I was fortunate to have a colleague who helped me start the process.

 

How did you get connected to your first board seat?

Networking, networking, networking….and it was from a source I didn’t expect (a colleague whose son worked for a fund of activist investors).

 

What steps did you take to prepare for the board interview process that benefited you most?

I spent a lot of time reviewing all of the publicly available company documents, and the (few) private documents I received. I prepared a list of questions to ask and had advice and counsel from several people about the kinds of questions that would be asked of me.

 

What has surprised you about the reality of board service versus the expectations that you had coming in – in a positive or maybe not so positive way?

I think that the most surprising thing is that you are sitting at a table with many accomplished individuals and for the most part there is little or no ego or one-upmanship occurring. I was initially quite intimidated by the titles and experience of my fellow board members but what I found was congeniality and an earnest desire to support the organization as a team.

 

How long did it take you to get your first corporate board seat after you started devoting time to the process?

My first one was serendipitous — it happened even before I left Shire, due to networking.

 

What has surprised you about the reality of board service versus the expectations that you had coming in – in a positive or maybe not so positive way?



One of the most important things to remember is NIFO: Nose In, Fingers Out. As Matt Emmens, former CEO of Shire and Vertex says, directors are not there to run the company. We’re there to ask questions, assess risk, provide a strategic perspective — but it is management’s job to run the company. That’s a challenge for some people…and when it occurs, it can be very difficult to get the discussion back on track to the issues we should be addressing.

 

What is the ONE essential piece of advice you’d give to other senior-level executive women who are on a journey to their first seat at the table?

Prepare well for the first meeting and speak up as soon as you can to establish yourself — ideally with a question. My first comment/question wasn’t brilliant — but it broke the ice for me. And establish relationships with other board members. A board is a collegial body — and it takes work and time to develop these relationships.

 

What is your favorite quote that inspires you?

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken!”

 

Charlotte Sibley’s Bio

Charlotte was elected as the first independent Director to the Board of Advicenne S.A. (Euronext: ADVIC), focused on pediatric orphan drugs, serving on the Remuneration/Governance Committee. She served on the board of privately held Taconic Biosciences, a global provider of R&D models, where she chaired the Nominating/Governance Committee and on the American Pacific Corp (NASDAC: AMPAC) board for 6 years; both companies were sold to a PE firm.

She holds numerous Advisory Board positions,and is a frequent lecturer at Columbia University’s EMBA program and University of the Sciences’ Health Care program. In her corporate career, she built and led integrated insights and analytics teams in 4 biopharma companies; her last corporate position was as Senior Vice President at shire plc (now Takeda), leading talent management and leadership development.

Charlotte holds an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business and an undergraduate degree in French from Middlebury College.

 

Views From The Boardroom is an exclusive series from Women In The Boardroom, where corporate board directors share their experience, insight and wisdom and their view from the boardroom. Corporate board directors interested in participating should email membership@womenintheboardroom.com.

The opinions and experiences expressed by the interviewees do not necessarily reflect those of Women in the Boardroom.

About Women in the Boardroom™

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