Recruiting by a Different Route

looking at a group of board candidates through a magnifying glass
Contributing Writer

2 minutes

Colorado credit union enlists search firm to fill vacant board seat quickly.

When a board member resigned in March 2019, CUES member Pam Nicholson, vice chair of the governance committee for $5.9 billion Ent Credit Union, and CUES member Meredith Vaughan, director of the same, wanted to fill it quickly—by that July.

Previously, when a board position became available, the Colorado Springs credit union looked to the supervisory committee for candidates. This time, inspired by a desire to progress as a board, they decided to take a different route and consider external candidates as well, hiring an outside search firm to help fill the seat. The board also conducted an assessment to determine gaps in its skill set to help identify desirable candidates. (These gaps included advocacy, technology and cybersecurity, mergers and acquisitions and risk management.)

“We looked at a number of firms,” Vaughan recalls. “We wanted one that could reach out to a wide net of candidates and be able to vet them on the skill set we were looking for. We asked firms about their posting, screening and vetting process and their ability to meet our deadlines.”

The selected firm  screened over 75 candidates, then reduced the field to 40. The nominating committee winnowed this to 20, with the firm asking those candidates another set of questions designed to gain a better understanding of experience, willingness to serve, leadership and governance style, etc. (The firm provided these questions, which the committee reviewed and edited.)

“From there we came to our final seven. The governance committee interviewed them, bringing the final two candidates to the board with a recommendation,” says Nicholson, adding that the board did meet its July timeframe.

There were several takeaways from this process, such as the value of having candidates and board meet face-to-face.

“We also learned it’s critical to have the board and CEO understand all the filters being used,” says Nicholson. “For example, for this search we didn’t utilize gender, diversity or geography as filters but instead kept it to the skills we were looking for: M&A, advocacy, technology and risk management.”

Pamela Mills-Senn is a writer based in Long Beach, California.

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