Last year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jolanda Holwerda joined the ScaleUpBoard program. Her motivation for joining was that the World Press Photo Foundation, in which she serves as a board member, had the ambition to scale. The organization is more than 50 years old, so it cannot be defined as a scale-up, but their goal is “to go international to find new opportunities for growth once the pandemic is over.”
From the various learnings gained during ScaleUpBoard, Jolanda finds the following the most valuable: while making decisions, there is no right answer or one right solution. In addition, it was clear to her that “a lot of board members want to create value, but that depends on their position. You can bring expertise in finance, organizational change or something else. A supervisor profile that fits every field doesn’t exist. You have to look at your own expertise and experience, and understand what you can add to the supervisory board.”
3 ways you can be the board member CEOs need
After the program, Jolanda could implement three lessons in her role as a board member for different companies:
- To make the outcome more valuable, you have to take into consideration more than one perspective when it’s time to reach a decision
- Take your time to digest all the information you receive while being part of a supervisory board. It might be tempting to provide your two cents from the start, but it takes time to really understand a company and its team.
- There should be a good mix between the hard and the soft control. Jolanda explains: “A lot of board members believe that they can only rely on facts and figures. In reality, you also have to trust your gut feeling. Intuition is the combination of expertise, experience and feeling. Board members shouldn’t project only their experience, but be more open to listen.
It’s all about perspective
After graduating, Jolanda was invited to join the ScaleUpNation team as the director of the ScaleUpBoard program. She has experience as both the board member and the CEO, which allows us to put herself in their shoes and understand their perspectives. “The CEO is totally immersed in making the company efficient, while a supervisory member has an overall perspective, like a helicopter view. Being a board member, you act as a mirror, so the CEO sees what is happening.”
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