Danielle Beemsterboer: The Importance of Due Diligence

Paul Smith

Danielle had wanted to join a board for a long time. She’d always seen it as a great way to be involved with, and give back to, her local community. Given that her passions lie in the disability and women’s rights sectors, she knew that with her dedication and skill set, she’d be able to make meaningful contributions to both those areas.

The only hurdle that stood in her way was the inability to know where to begin. Luckily, the Future Director’s Make Me A Board Director program aims to provide the clarity and direction required to do just that.

Prior to doing the program, Danielle had applied for two boards. However, she didn’t make it through to interview stage. She puts this down to not having the right knowledge and experience required, and it wasn’t until she did the program earlier this year that she found just what she needed.

The most insightful thing Danielle was able to discover was knowing exactly how to do an all-important value proposition that would best showcase her unique worth and governance credibility to any board she was invited to interview for. The program also assisted her in knowing how to narrow down what she could offer in terms of the most-suited skills and how to present them to the board.

Another key aspect was the importance of finding and applying for boards that resonate highly with her own individual passions and values, “I believe it is imperative to make sure you’re not just joining any board for the sake of it; it has to be one that aligns with your morals and values”. If it’s not well-aligned, it won’t be a good fit.

This aspect was a highly important factor in a tricky decision Danielle had to make shortly after she completed the program. She was invited to apply for a board role, but after doing the program she knew how important it was to conduct due diligence before accepting. After going through the organisation’s annual reports she found that the board had made some poor decisions that left their finances in quite a mess. As such, she decided it was in her best interests to turn down the board role.

This is something she wouldn’t have done if it weren’t for one of the program’s speakers, Future Director Alumni, Jacquie Fegent-McGeachie. When Jacquie spoke to the participants she discussed how important it was to research every aspect of the board, including finances, prior to joining. After hearing Jacquie speak about a board experiencing financial disarray, Danielle remembered she had a responsibility to research the board and conduct due diligence. Without having done that, she may have found herself in a position that would turn out to be quite uncomfortable.

Aside from the importance of due diligence, Danielle found a wealth of benefits from the program. Not only did it give her an opportunity to develop her value proposition and present her strengths and expertise in a way that would resonate with boards, it provided her with the nous to proceed from simply applying for board roles but to receiving invitations to interview and progress further through the rounds. She also discovered how to identify the type of board she wanted to be on, as well as how to evaluate whether it was well-aligned with her values or not.

Additionally, there was a personalised approach that came from the program, which both supported and educated Danielle in an environment that helped her to really receive the information given to her. Thanks to this personal touch, Danielle was able to give both her resume and LinkedIn profile an overhaul, making it better suited to the roles she was after. The program also allowed her to hone her interview skills, which helped her feel confident and prepared for the interviews that have occurred since.

Danielle believes that Future Director’s obvious passion and dedication to their work and their students made it a truly wonderful program to participate in, and is perfect for anyone seeking to begin or further their board career.