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Do’s & Don’ts: How To Get A Board/Advisory Position Within The Blockchain/Crypto Space – Part 2

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

Skillset? Experience? or Expertise?

Following on from Part 1 in this series, our panel opens up the floor for questions.

Some topics that come up include CV do’s and don’ts and the range for salaries and how to negotiate!

Bridget Greenwood: You spoke about tailoring your CV for the board position and what a value add that you bring.

When you are looking at the boards, would it therefore make sense to see the skillset of the board that you’ve got, a board that you might be applying for and where they’re missing your expertise?

Rachel Tranter: Oh, absolutely. One of the key pieces of advice that I give to people actually when they’re applying, but possibly more so when they’re going through the interview is find your seat at the table.

If we just step back a minute, you produce your board CV and that’s your generic CV, but then obviously as you applied for a particular role, you will tweak it depending upon that specific role.

One CV won’t fit every role. But I would definitely, part of the process is get to understand, go into everybody that’s on the board, understand their skills and find your seat at the table.

There will not be a “you” at the table.

There won’t be. I can guarantee there will not be. And your first challenge is to say, well, why isn’t there a me at the table? What do I mean by that? And that’s going to be you helping to actually build up what your profile is. It tends to happen more and actually by the time you’ve come to the interview and I’ll always say to somebody, “have you looked at the board? Have you figured out why you’ve got the interview?”

Well, because they clearly don’t have a you because of your skills. It’s a really important thing to do definitely.

Bridget Greenwood: As you were talking, does anyone remember the book?

“What color is your parachute?”

I read it back in my twenties when I was looking at my career and it basically says, write down everything that’s great about you and then go and find that role.

It seems to be very much the same thing in the boardroom.

The other question that I had,

“what are the salary ranges apart from zero to and how do you figure out what does that negotiation look like? Do you come asking for something? Do they offer something? What does that look like?”

Rachel Tranter: Again, forgive me. I don’t know about the more specialist areas that you’re in, but more broadly up until you get to the private sector, it’s almost zero pay. Charities, for example, cannot pay. Sports bodies cannot pay. Housing associations pay you a bit, but not a lot. You’d be delighted if they offered you 12 grand a year to sit on a housing association board.

That’s reality.

Public sector boards do pay. Pretty much all public bodies pay, but it tends to be a per day rate. Does it do much more than cover your expenses? Not really.

Once you get into the listed roles, I can tell you I’m helping two companies at the moment.

They’re FTSE, they are paying between 50 and 70,000 for the position.

One for example is saying 50,000 and offically seven meetings a year but expect to commitment, therefore 24 days annual. Now fifties low, fifties low. But this is a recently listed growing ambitious company.

You’d expect 70 I would say as a typical listed company board.

Toby Lewis: And Bridget, I’d sort of chip in a bit on I guess the crypto blockchain tech space.

Largely the first area where you’re negotiating for is either equity or tokens.

You’re looking for a percentage of the upside and obviously depending on how advanced the space is, that kind of table stakes. Then the reality is your time is very valuable, right? You probably want some form of paid retainer. That can be anywhere from a thousand pounds to 50,000, but obviously like 50,000, would you be bringing a whole army of people, right? That’s more a consultancy engagement.

What I would recommend to people looking at doing advisory work and in the crypto and blockchain space is take a project that you find really, really interesting and inspiring take some of their tokens and take some of their equity.

See if you can negotiate a fee, that’s often dependent on how much money that project has at that time, or sometimes a success fee on capital raised. Depending what your skill set is like, I think you’ll find certain people; marketing people, corporate finance people, lawyers, those kind of people have the skill sets that startups will want to pay for all programmers right or whatever.

A lot of other people, it will be a bit more,

“Why are you you at the table? Why are they wanting to pay for you?”

But I think my view is in the tech startup space. You shouldn’t be pressurising a founder to compensate you because I think that can be distasteful and I think quite experienced executives can sometimes lead to the wrong dynamic with founders just because they might not actually be experienced at scaling a startup scaling a crypto business.

I think it’s just a very fluid negotiation, but I think the best thing was a lot of these roles to dive in and see what happens.

Genevieve Leveille: Thanks Toby. We have a couple of questions.

She’s asking,“What kind of board roles or sectors are available for senior HR professional?”

In my viewpoint, I would think that if you’re going to be working with startups, they are starving for your support because they’re basically scaling up, being able to understand what are the issues around that is key. And I would also even suggest that in some of the large banks, they are looking at re-skilling and having somebody who’s outspoken be able to provide them with feedback. It’s something that would be really greatly appreciated.

Amber Ghaddar: I would say with regards to HR role, I think they’re quite relevant in banks that’s for sure, because we have a retention problem and we have a diversity problem and we have a pay gap problem. Having senior HR professionals on board of banks is something that I would strongly support.

Similarly, I would say for sort of larger corporation in the startup space from my experience, I don’t think there’s a real need because the VCs that come on board usually have the skillset to with regards to anything that is related to HR, anything that is relating to hiring talent, retention, et cetera. Especially when you are at this very, very fast growth space.

But I think if you check with scale-ups. I think maybe that could be something that is interesting to them. Especially scale-ups. I don’t know what sector you specialise in but I would say anything that is a very highly technical and rare i.e. C plus plus coders that are not very easy to find.

If you have like strong experience in this or that was the Saturday you were working in. Definitely speaking with scale-ups in the deep tech space would be something interesting.

Rachel Tranter: I can obviously add from outside into the other sectors that there’s an absolute need for HR, but it’s D&I, it’s people, it’s talent.

They’re the type of things that I see in the criteria of roles.

Has there ever been a better time to be looking for to join a remuneration committee?

There are plenty of opportunities to go run comms I can assure you. So, yes. I would say.

Companies haven’t always had HR directors on their boards, so they’re missing that, that is a seat at the table as we were talking about earlier. Absolutely yeah, lots of demand.

Genevieve Leveille: The next question came from Jannah and I think part of it might’ve been answered, which was the salary range is from zero to 50.

And what do they look like for advisory board? And what is a typical time commitment in terms of appointment? How many hours per week should be needed for a consultancy role?

Toby Lewis: Yeah. I mean, I guess it’s kind of how long is a piece of string really.

I think you can really formerly timebox a lot of these things, I’ve never been particularly good at this. I’ve hired a project manager who was running trip to Deutsche bank so she’s now extremely good at that. Everything is costed. Everything is mapped out. Normally in an earlier stage business, there’s a bit more of a sort of informal negotiation and tease. And then as you formalise it, you, you can have an hourly rate and the structure and just how that engagement operates.

I think it all depends on the entrepreneurs and the people knowing the advisors and vice versa and getting something that is a non frustrating relationship right. I think in the startup space especially, there’s a bit of a cat and mouse between advisors who are pseudo investors often and the founders.

There’s a lot of nuancing and the relationship of how those things get built up. And sometimes someone who you think might be your advisor ends up being the lead venture capitalist in your race or whatever it is. It’s a complex field.

Amber Ghaddar: If I may add something here, I think a good way to go about it is, it’s easier for you to just ask them, “okay, what is the budget that you have for this consultancy role or for this advisory role?”

And then you get back to them telling them. For this salary, this is how much I can offer. This is how many hours I can offer. And within these hour I will be able to do XYZ. For example, not the rest and you can start the negotiation from this point in time.

Genevieve Leveille: I’d like to add a little bit to this because I’ve had some of the experience being asked. I’ve looked at about three roles recently.

Usually in terms of time commitment, they will tell you anywhere between one to two days a month, and that doesn’t always include your meeting. That also includes things like reviewing papers, providing advice on the board meetings and depending on the maturity of the board, you could have very formalised meetings whereby it’s a three hour meeting. May need to be face to face and everything such as finance and also strategy is being brought to your attention.

But those you will have had gotten the papers ahead of time to do a review. You can figure about to six hours to get yourself around that, which then comes in to that 8 to 14 hour a month timing.

I’ve had certain people tell me that you will need to be flying overnight for dinner prior to the board meeting. Which means you’re then looking at about two or three days in that timing when the board meetings are happening and usually they will tell you formally when those days will be on calendar, plus you will have informal ones.

Depending on the size of the company, you may also be asked to be participating in committees. Those can be the renumeration committee, the technology committee and diverse things. For those for the larger company, they will be a top up, which is put on top. Most of those large boards will ask you to actually be part of one. Um, there is actually only three minutes left.

I’d like to give a big thank you to everybody for your time. And I would like to give starting with Toby our esteemed guest the opportunity to have one last minute and quickly tell us how you would go about it.

Toby Lewis: I think on the point and valuing your time, the way I tend to look at those is try and have a portfolio of retainers.

I think it’s a good way of just ensuring that you’re always getting a good income from that kind of activity. I think if you’re of a certain mindset, advisory board and board roles are very interesting. If you’re a typically inquisitive thinker, someone who’s quite out of the box, it can be really, really valuable and you can get this area of very trusted relationships with interesting CEOs and, and people around the world. I’ve also seen both the advisor board role go wrong both from the entrepreneur’s perspective. I’ve had to fire a chairman before and run into areas where the client doesn’t listen to your advice. But anyway, lots to discuss.

Genevieve Leveille: I’d like to hear one quick from Amber and Rachel and of course our hit esteemed hostess Bridget.

Rachel, would you like to please give your last parting

Rachel Tranter: My call to arms statement.

I think that there is never a better time to start looking at board opportunities than today.

This time last year boards were starting to resurface from a few months of stepping back and really wondering what on earth do we need now? There’s never been a better time. Boards need talent, they need diversity. And please don’t think for one minute that we are at a tipping point in terms of meeting those targets.

We’ve met the targets, marvelous. But there’s so much work to be done and it is talent like you that needs to get on those boards and make the difference.

Amber Ghaddar: If you’re running a business and you want to build your board don’t be ashamed or scared of trying to hit high, especially within your network.

The ex CEOs of the companies you were working in, don’t be afraid to go and ask them and tell them, “I’m building this business, we have X revenues we’re growing at X. And we think that you could be a real addition to a real addition to our boards in terms of X, Y, Z.”

Again, you’d be surprised a lot of people are looking for these types of roles, don’t know where to find them and are always willing to be part of a potential success story. That would be my last one.

Bridget Greenwood: A huge thank you to everyone Genevieve, Amber, Toby and Rachel everyone showing up, especially asking your questions.

I know a couple of you have joined us in The Bigger Pie so welcome. When it comes to things like negotiation of salaries, people will ask in the group and I’ll pull together a select people who can give you their experience for the different types of roles that you’re going into as particularly in the crypto sector where,

I can’t say money anymore I have to say Fiat to have to define it. But it’s not just sort of what salary expectations that might be an equity, but we also have the tokenisation as well.

Thank you very much everyone, we are more than happy to continue these types of discussions in our community.

Genevieve Leveille: Thank you very much everybody and looking forward to seeing you guys online on The Bigger Pie channel.


Here are both parts of the recording for the second segment:


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