Terence Cryan currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Ocean Power Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: OPTT) and as Chairman of the Board of Westwater Resources Inc. (NASDAQ: WWR). From 2015 to 2017, Cryan served as President and CEO of Global Power Equipment Group Inc. (GLPW), a publicly traded company based in Dallas, TX. Global Power offers design, engineering and manufacturing of a broad array of equipment as well as maintenance and construction services to the global power, energy and process industries.
Previously, Cryan has served on the board of directors of more than a dozen private and publicly traded companies and has been designated a Board Leadership Fellow by the National Association of Corporate Directors.
How did you prepare – in every sense: emotionally, intellectually, practically – for your first board meeting and in what ways did that preparation pay off?
My mindset going into every board meeting, including my first, was to not forget that you represent the shareholders who own the company. This may seem like a simple idea, though in my experience having served on a number of public company boards, at times there are directors who seemingly lose sight of why they are there and who they represent.
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?
At first, it was a struggle for me to always remember that I’m a director, not a member of the management team. Directors who have C suite executive experience can at times struggle with this concept. It’s an important distinction between the differing roles and responsibilities of directors versus management, and key to being a successful independent director.
Help, hindrance or both – how does board service complement your professional career?
For mid-career executives, I always offer a bit of caution: surprisingly, there are a few employers, boards and institutional investors that will not look favorably upon board service outside of the company that you are employed by. They may view it as a distraction. This issue can become more significant if you serve on more than one public company board and in certain circumstances can disqualify you for consideration for C suite positions. While I think that many stakeholders view outside board service as a terrific career development opportunity for sitting C suite executives, it’s not a universally held view.
Do you have any suggestions for us at Women in the Boardroom to better help our members in securing a corporate board seat?
I expect that most WIB members focus on networking with sitting public company directors as a primary way to get shortlisted for a board seat. While that certainly can and does often work, here’s another suggestion: cultivate relationships with institutional portfolio managers who hold meaningful equity ownership positions in publicly listed companies. They want well qualified directors representing their interests and there are few public companies that are going to ignore a suggestion from a large shareholder about a qualified board candidate and not at least put them into the mix for consideration.
What attracted you to want to work with WIB?
That’s simple. WIB is super easy to work with. I’ve met two outstanding directors who are now board colleagues of mine through WIB. The process of working with WIB is straightforward, it’s very cost effective versus using an executive search firm and the talent pool is deep. That’s a winning combination.