Ben Frederiksen: Building Better Boards

Paul Smith

Ben was always interested in joining a board, but, like so many others, he just wasn’t sure how to start down the path to achieving it. He knew that with the skills he’d gained through his ten-years of FMCG industry experience (across sales, strategy, commercial finance and general management roles) and now from Consulting, that he had something highly valuable he could offer a board.  But bridging the gap between knowing and doing seemed difficult.

That is, at least, until Ben found Future Directors and their Make Me A Board Director program. He had heard about Future Directors and their popular program through a self-improvement incentive offered through his employer, and given his already keen interest in board roles, Future Directors provided the perfect option.

Prior to the program, Ben didn’t attempt to join any boards. He wasn’t sure how to best present himself or his individual value. He was also conscious of committing to deliver on the additional responsibility of a board role on top of a heavy work schedule and a young family.

Ben found a wide range of benefits from the program. He discovered a new appreciation of the relationship between the board and management, as well as how just one individual can encourage change and add a wealth of value to an organisation. The support network provided by Future Directors was equally of value, and he found he really appreciated working with intelligent, motivated people who both inspired and challenged him.

Through the program, he was gifted with the knowledge of how to find the right board opportunities that were best suited to his passions and values, what was involved in being on a board, and how to be a better board member when the time came.  The program assisted him in communicating his skills and abilities during any future board interviews.

Another key advantage was reinforcement of the positive, cognitive impact that diversity has on decision making. While this was something he had already known, he found that interacting with the other participants, who all came from very diverse backgrounds and industries yet shared the same passion for change, was highly motivating and energising. It enhanced his view of how to manage different perspectives leading towards the same goal, and allowed him to appreciate broader motivations to change such as social justice as opposed to corporate management – something useful for future board appointments.

Prior to participating in the program, Ben hadn’t fully realised how beneficial both IQ and EQ were to managing a board. Since then, he’s been able to encourage better thinking in both himself and his cohorts, focusing on how a group of people can interact, communicate and engage to bring about the effective, positive change so many boards are aiming for.

After he completed the program, Ben took his time applying for board roles. He endeavoured to make sure the role would fit into his life, while being something he was passionate about. The program prepared him for that application process, including how he could put forth his unique value in the most effective way.

Ben now sits on the inaugural Future Directors Alumni Advisory Board, an appointment that allows him to work with other change agents building better boards.

He’s since come to realise that the boardroom can be an eclectic mix of individuals, with directors all bringing their own languages and thought patterns. This diversity of perspective stimulates great discussions, producing better decisions that can lead us toward a better future.  

He’s found being on a board to be a really rewarding experience.