Preparing for my first Board meeting

I promised during my ALIA Board election campaign that if I was elected, I would use this blog to write about being on the Board – to enhance transparency but also to give others an idea of what being on the Board involves, in the hopes of inspiring them to nominate next year, and the year after that. So here’s my first “I’m now on the Board!” post.

Except I’m not on the Board yet – technically I can’t call myself a director until after the ALIA AGM next Tuesday. This is important – the little things are important when you’re doing things like filling out ASIC information forms. I was invited to attend a CSU students’ drinks function the other week as the ALIA representative, but had to be careful that I was referred to only as an incoming Board member, not an actual one.

Next Monday is when the fun starts. On Monday there’s an induction for the three of us that are new (I’m looking forward to meeting Susan, and seeing Damian again). Tuesday is the meeting of the current Board, during which us newbies get to sit tight and watch (and learn, hopefully). Tuesday night is the AGM, at the end of which the (presumably) metaphorical baton is passed, and Wednesday we get to be actual Board members and have a meeting.

It all sounds so formal and fancy, doesn’t it? When I worked at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians I used to attend the annual College Ceremony, which was essentially a graduation ceremony for all the new Fellows. Every second year we got a new President, and they were my favourite ceremonies. The outgoing President, wearing the presidential robe (very unlike a bathrobe, btw), would be presented with the presidential sceptre. They would then ceremonially hand it to the incoming President. The ceremony attendant would remove the presidential robe from the outgoing President and place it on the incoming President. The incoming President would then present the outgoing President with the ex-presidents’ medal. The whole thing was replete with pomp, all College staff that assisted with the ceremony were expected to wear their appropriate academic gowns, and it was fabulous. Somehow I suspect I’m not going to see the same thing next week…

I have been wondering how best to prepare for next week. I’ve filled out all the forms (including the scary ASIC one) and travel bookings are sorted. Other than that, I’m reading. I re-read ALIA’s constitution and by-laws. There’s a Board modus operandi document that contained a lot of useful information. I read through the notes from the last few Board meetings. I took another look at the last available set of ALIA’s financial reports, and had a good read through the Future of the Profession document. It’s listed as a “Board project”, and I don’t really know what that means, but I figure that I might get an opportunity to do something with it, so that’s good. I’ve also, for good measure, re-read the notes from my corporate law studies, especially the bits on director liabilities. Apparently any moment now I’m going to get access to something called the Board papers, which I believe involves a lot more reading, so that’ll be my weekend activity.

I’m sure I’m going way overboard, and I’ll probably annoy the hell out of the other directors by being like an over-excited puppy, but I’ve got two years on this Board and I’m not going to let them pass me by. I’ll be honest – I don’t know yet how to make the best use of this, nor what it’s reasonable to expect to achieve in two years. But hopefully by the time I leave Canberra next Wednesday evening I’ll have some ideas.

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