The Chairperson- Part 2

A continuation of Part 1.

1. Calibration

Clarity on the remit and responsibilities of the role is the first thing to get right. Why are you making this hire? What does a successful outcome look like?

Once this is agreed with the rest of the executive team and the board, you can then define the profile of the person you are looking for. For example, they will have gone through similar challenges to the ones you envision your company facing now and in the future.

In the final part of the calibration process you should try and meet with some potential candidates. Ask your investors and peers for any introductions. These people don’t need to be stellar candidates, but in meeting them, you’ll be able to refine your calibration of the profile you’re seeking.

2. Candidates

The right candidate is likely to be already busy on a portfolio of roles, highly in-demand and extremely picky on where they want to invest their precious time and resources. Your job now is to persuade them that your company is worth their attention.

Mutual connections and trusted sources are always a good starting point. So too is some blue-sky thinking: who are your heroes in the industry? Might they make a good Chairperson, even if just in a dream scenario? Be bold, and remember most people are only two phone calls away.

An executive search firm such as 360Leaders spends a lot of time working on these type of roles and will likely have an insight into the calibre, cultural fit and the availability of a number of Chairperson-level candidates. Executive search firms do increase the chances of getting the right people in front of you.

It is important to have agreed who from the executive teams will do the first meeting with the candidate. It would normally be the CEO and at least one other member of the senior team. Assuming the process continues, the other board members should also get to spend time with the candidates. Finally, a half day spent going through a real issue your company is facing will confirm — or otherwise — that the right relationships are forming. Don’t be afraid to challenge their approach or work through their way of thinking for a very real insight into the likely success of their contribution.

3. Successful onboarding

Now you need to agree compensation levels and bringing them into the business. You will need to agree time commitments. If you have worked with an executive search firm the compensation discussion will have been continuous throughout the process, but you will still need to make sure your candidate is going to commit the time you’ll need.

Costs of hiring a Chairperson vary depending on the complexity of the search, the geographical focus and the company that you work with.

As a rough benchmark our experience at Octopus Ventures shows the following salary levels:

Series A — £30k a year expecting 1 day a week of work and 2% total equity

Series B — £50k a year expecting +1 day a week of work and 2% total equity

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