Ryan Companies Search For a New Board Member

27 Aug

Part Two – The search for a new and different board member

Ryan CompaniesWhile Ryan Companies has had a very successful history to date, the company understands that adaptability is paramount for continued growth. One of the biggest changes that occurred for the business was the changing of the company’s stakeholders (ownership, employees, customers, suppliers, communities). With those changes, new stakeholders needed more representation on the board.

To better understand their board, Cardinal Board Services conducted a four-part analysis. This included:

  • A review of the current board bylaws that govern how the board operates and their duties and responsibilities.
  • A gap analysis that looked at the current board experience and tenure compared to where the board ideally would like to be.
  • A board compensation study to determine where the company was compared to other companies of similar size and industry.
  • In-person interviews of current board members to seek input on what to look for in a new director.

Based on Cardinal Board Services’ board member recruitment recommendations, Ryan’s chairman and CEO determined they needed to do a nationwide search for a female banking executive with significant real estate background.

Why? The more explanation behind this was:

  1. Nationwide – The current board is made up of all local individuals. Ryan has employees, customers and suppliers in all parts of the U.S. along with an increasing number of opportunities that needed a voice on the board.
  2. Female – Increasingly women are playing a larger role at the company and its customers and suppliers. There was one woman on Ryan’s board, a fourth-generation owner, so adding an additional female was important.
  3. Banking executive – Ryan has a number of very important banking relationships when it comes to financing the development and construction projects critical to the company’s success. The strength of those relationships helped Ryan greatly through the Great Recession and the board needed a representative voice from the banking industry.
  4. Real estate background – Understanding the complexities of real estate transactions and the financial operations of real estate development and construction companies is key to adding value at the board level.

Cardinal Board Services also knew that the candidate had to culturally fit in with the current board which was a male-dominated board with a long tenure and familiarity with each other. That meant that new board member’s personality needed to be pleasant yet tough, highly competent, and able to fit in with Midwestern personalities and culture.

The challenges were significant to find all of these attributes in one person who was also interested (or had no conflicts of interest), willing to travel to board meetings and can recognize the opportunity to be associated with a great company like Ryan Companies.

After extensive research, Cardinal Board Services identified approximately 75 individuals as potential candidates. Key to garnering interest from potential candidates was the need to help them understand better who Ryan was. Cardinal Board Services achieved this with great collateral material supplied by the marketing department that described the scope and breadth of the company and the significant projects they had completed over the years.

Of the 75 potential candidates, Cardinal Board Services narrowed down the list to fewer than 10 individuals for serious consideration. Cardinal Board Services vetted the candidates through phone screens, phone interviews, resume reviews and discussions, and in-person interviews.

The final three candidates considered were: the president of a regional mid-sized bank, the chief credit officer of a top-20 bank and a recently retired senior vice president of a top-five bank who was a key banking partner for Ryan Companies.

This post is part of a three part series about the board member recruitment process for Ryan Companies. Please read Part One – The need, desire and challenge as well. For more information on our company can help find your next board member please call or click here.