If a good board is important to your company, why leave its administration a part-time afterthought? More companies are aiming for boardroom excellence with a full-time board staff person.
Jodi Kass, director of the office of the corporate secretary at Time-Warner, puts 70 to 75% of her time into managing the media giant's board. "I'm a central resource for the board," says Klass. "They can find me whenever they need information." Though Kass handles the typical board support duties (mailings, putting together agendas and meeting packages, scheduling) her dedicated status lets Time-Warner put more thought and innovation into meeting boardroom demands. For example:
Fine-tuning info needs. "Our directors say they want their information boiled down and less technical, and they request specific financials."
Scheduling flexibility. Although Time-Warner tries to schedule board and committee meetings six months to a year in advance, Kass keeps steady contact with the directors (and sometimes even more important, their assistants) year-round, which allows the company to move quickly when it anticipates the need to pull a meeting together.
Ability to trickle rather than deluge the board with information. By making board needs her priority, Kass is able to keep a steady flow of information going to directors throughout the year, rather than having to bomb them by the bushel at the last minute before meetings.
Board manager Klass's most important bit of advice: "Learn who your board members are, their interests and how you can be helpful. The board is your audience."