Changing the Face of the Boardroom: The Mr.Perfect Board
In this interview series, we take a look at life as a ‘non traditional’ board member and the benefits they bring to boards and organisations.
Sharing their story today is the board of Mr. Perfect, a male mental health support network. Yes, I know that they’re a bunch of blokes, which is pretty usual for the boardroom. However, in this instance it makes sense. And they are doing some things a little differently.
Firstly, they are guys who are working to mainstream the conversation on male mental health – a topic that is currently in focus, particularly with a number of high-profile sportsmen experiencing mental health issues. Such an important and significant issue that I had to do my part in helping to normalize the conversation and getting Mr.Perfect’s message out there a little more.
Secondly, they recruited their financially-skilled board member via Instagram – how progressive is that?!
And they are certainly bucking the age trend in the boardroom – all board members are under the age of 40.
Let’s get in to it…
GOBA: What is unique about you as a board member?
Terry Cornick (Mr.Perfect Founder): Because the organisation began from my personal story. It started as an anonymous blog to help me process my battle with mental health and has grown to a movement that has real impact and works for every man.
In my day job I work for Blugibbon in healthcare. Therefore I deal with Doctors and healthcare services daily including in the Psychiatry and Psychology sector and have some valuable knowledge.
Ilan Hurwitz: Professionally my background is in marketing where I have worked across a range of disciplines including Sponsorship, Product Marketing and eCommerce.
Personally, like many men in Australia, I’ve had my share of mental health challenges and I bring this first hand experience to Mr.Perfect.
I’ve also spent many years in my early 20’s volunteering at my local football club committee, which gave me some non-profit board experience at an early age.
Jason Cuffe: I bring a certain dynamic to the team with a focus on creative and strategic thinking. Although I don’t have direct experience in the mental health industry, my design background has enables opportunity for new thinking about what Mr.Perfect is and can become.
Jeremy Hyman: I offer media and communications expertise across all traditional and new media channels. From a Mr.Perfect perspective, I come on to the board with lived experience in regard to men’s mental health. I serve on a number of not-for-profit boards and that experience provides valuable learnings that I can contribute to Mr.Perfect.
Pete Regan: I don’t believe I am that unique from the other board members [ed.: thanks for your honesty Pete!]. We are all equally passionate about mental health and all have a good professional background. What we do is not seen as something we have to do, but something we want to do.
I guess I am slightly unique as I am not afraid to be honest and question ideas and proposals. I also try to ensure that we don’t take ourselves too seriously and continue for it to be fun.
Tom Daven: I have a broad range of industry experience, and have worked in many organisation both small and large, however, no background in mental health.
GOBA: How did you get your board seat?
TC: I am the Founder and President!
IH: The founder Terry Cornick, whom I have known for many years, invited me.
JC: I have been a close friend of the founder, Terry Cornick, for 10 years and discovered that we have a similar approach to life and a passion for promoting men’s mental health. My seat on the board was created as we moved Mr.Perfect from an online blog into a registered organisation.
JH: I was offered a board seat by Mr.Perfect’s founder, Terry Cornick. I was approached based on my skill set and involvement in similar organisations.
PR: It happened organically. A natural progression from helping Terry, the founder, from an idea into bringing it to fruition.
TD: Mr.P were looking for a numbers man and I responded to their Instagram post.
GOBA: How does your uniqueness benefit the board / organisation?
TC: With my lived experience it makes sure just that we are always pushing to meet our own expectations just that little bit harder to connect and provide support to those that need it.
IH: Our chair has found board members who each come from different professional backgrounds. For me that means my experience in marketing at a large corporate brings a unique input and insight. Also, my lived mental health experiences means I can add a perspective that is similar to those who we aim to help with their own mental health challenges.
JC: My energetic and creative approach is something that adds a certain dynamic to the organisation. My strength lies in strategic thinking, brand positioning and events.
JH: I help the board in building the organisation’s profile while also providing advice on issues pertaining to internal and external communications.
PR: As we are a not-for-profit people can be worried about upsetting a person who is volunteering their time and energy. I believe I can question without upsetting the group. I am also confident to make decisions to keep projects moving forward.
TD: My strong financial background combined with diverse industry experience will provide a sound foundation to assist the delivery of organisational goals.
GOBA: What has your experience on a board been like? Do you feel that your differences are a benefit or a hindrance?
TC: Being on a board has been life-changing for me. I am still an introvert but my confidence has sky-rocketed. I am learning constantly about what it means to be a leader and work with all members’ ideas. These skills will benefit me across all aspects of life.
IH: Our differences are most certainly an asset to the board and results in a strong cross-section of unique perspectives and solutions. I also believe this mix assists the board in avoiding a group think mentality which is often a challenge if board members are too similar.
JC: As a relatively new organisation our board experiences have been focused around the strategic thinking of Mr.Perfect; setting goals for the future. The open nature of all board members has allowed us to really tease out what we want Mr.Perfect to become and how we can best leverage each of our strengths to ensure that we maximise our impact within the mental health community.
JH: I believe all boards need a diverse skill set and a communications practitioner is essential for all organisations and businesses; particularly at board level.
PR: Hopefully a benefit! If I didn’t love what I do or didn’t think I was any benefit for the team I would leave and let another, better suited person take my place.
TD: I am relatively new but the experience is great and I hope I can continue to bring more to the table. It’s exciting to be in from the beginning and working with people who are passionate about what they are doing.
GOBA: What advice would you give to people in a similar situation to you?
TC: Get yourself some incredible legal support. We are lucky to have secured pro-bono services but the paperwork and bureaucracy, even around the most basic not for profit structures and processes are cumbersome. It is better to set everything up properly at the very start and it will save time and money in the future.
IH: If you are not finding opportunities to gain management or board experience, get out there and try to create your own. Often volunteering can be a great way to get exposure and experience that is not readily available in the for-profit sector. Any experience, big or small, will be an asset to your personal and professional development and will help you achieve your goals. Don’t be afraid to ask people if they are free for a coffee/chat – you’d be surprised how many people will say yes and often these small conversations can lead to bigger opportunities.
JC: Speak up- everyone has something to contribute!
JH: Have a go!
PR: Be honest and open. Don’t take yourself too seriously or get upset if people do not agree with your opinion. Not every idea is a good idea.
TD: Don’t rule yourself out, your voice, views and experience matter.
Mr.Perfect facilitates conversation and connection through authentic personal stories, education and interaction. They are a not-for-profit organisation and survive on donations from awesome people like yourself. If you felt as inspired as I did hearing from the board of Mr.P, I encourage you to contribute to their cause.
[heading] About the Changing the Face of the Boardroom Initiative [/heading]
Many times I am told by aspiring board members that they feel like they are not qualified for the boardroom, or that they have nothing to offer. Much of this self-opinion comes from the perception that is reinforced in messages about the boardroom; you have to be old, connected, conservative, and extremely educated to be on a board.
I call BS on this!
I am certain that there are many wonderful board members out there who don’t fit the traditional “pale and stale” stereotype of company directors / board members. People who came to the boardroom along the path less travelled, with a unique career background or because of some rare characteristic that has proved invaluable for an organisation.
I know they’re out there and I want to profile them to show aspiring directors that they do have something to offer. That the boardroom is somewhere they can thrive and give back; and that their uniqueness can have extraordinary value to an organisation. I want organisations and people everywhere to know it too.
[heading] Read Other Changing the Face of the Boardroom Profiles [/heading]