Women On Boards Series: Meeting My Sponsor

July 29, 2014Last month we introduced you to prospective board member Sandra Stuart and her board sponsor, Sarah E. Raiss, giving you a unique perspective on what it takes to get appointed to a board. Sarah described her experience as a participant in the Women On Board®program, and how she came to sponsor Sandra Stuart

In this installment, we have the pleasure of hearing from Sandra herself!

Meet: Sandra Stuart, Chief Operating Officer, HSBC Bank, Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia—and now a Women On Board® sponsee.

Partnering Up: I am really excited to be a part of Women On Board® and I feel lucky to be paired with Sarah Raiss as my board sponsor. She has a broad corporate background, and experiences completely different from mine. A board sponsor in a different geography with national ties will complement my network—but more importantly I value her positive energy, encouragement, and fresh ideas on how to think about my board career. 

Our First Meetings: We first met by phone, and Sarah came across as very warm and encouraging, which put me at ease instantly. That first phone call can sometimes be a deal-breaker but in this case, it was a deal-maker! Our first face-to-face meeting was not easy to arrange. We are both pretty busy, but we were able to meet during the Calgary Stampede last year—at a bar where we enjoyed tea of the non-alcoholic variety. Sarah’s home was affected by the flood, but in between an eye doctor appointment and remediating flood damage in her home, she carved some time out to work through a plan, and plan we did.

Goal Setting: Armed with my ideas of the types of boards that interested me—and Sarah’s suggestions about where my skills would be most appreciated—we hatched a plan. We discussed my personal capabilities and how I could bring those talents to the business community to open up board opportunities for me beyond financial services. After looking at the FP500 and considering where my areas of interest and skills aligned, we discussed very specific opportunities in sectors such as mining and energy, retail, environment, and logistics (airports, rail and ports), as well as how she was positioned to help and advocate for me.

Best Advice: Sarah told me, “Be open.” The most interesting board opportunities are not always where you expect.

Staying Connected: I'm making a quick trip to Calgary for this year's Stampede, but our schedules don't align this time, so we'll catch up in person another time. So far we have kept in touch by email. Sarah lets me know when she has a thought for me, and where she has put my name forward. It’s been an energizing experience so far, and I’m looking forward to continuing our work together to find the right board opportunity for me.

The views expressed herein are solely those of the guest blogger and do not necessarily reflect those of Catalyst. Catalyst does not endorse any political candidates. The post and the comments are presented only for the purpose of informing the public.