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Universal Executive Challenge: Getting Your Board to Approve Your Proposals


Some management challenges are universal. Whether in Europe, APAC, or here in the US, business many leaders have to deal with their Board of Directors. Some of our younger clients and prospects are new to having boards of directors. So they ask our opinion on how to collaborate with their boards, who should be tremendously valuable for advice and guidance.

Lauren Leadbetter from Inner Onion interviewed one of our favorite leaders, John Caner, CEO of Downtown Berkeley Association, about his board and how he works with them to get projects approved. We hope you learn as much as we did! Thanks, John!

As an avid community member and accomplished board member, John Caner, took a few moments to discuss his position as CEO of the Downtown Berkeley Association, and some ways a board might approach approving technical projects. John’s perspective provides valuable insight on how a technology company looking to partner with a board might strategically map a proposal that will garner board approval and funding.

After a 25-year long career in high-tech, John wanted to give back so became Executive Director of a local non profit, Rebuilding Together Oakland, which led to his first board position. From there, through other positions, he landed at the Downtown Berkeley Association, where he is today.

Below are some of the key take-aways from our interview with John.

  • Take Away: If you have discretion, select your board carefully. Select members who have the same vision of growth and technology as you do.

  • Take Away: Speak the language of the board. Some members might not be as technical as you are. Make your proposals presentable.

  • Take Away: Be prepared with necessary information, budget and work plan, formatted for a project proposal that the board would approve.

  • Take Away: Boards are investors, looking not only at how your product/service could benefit them, but also how you operate as a company and how sound the investment would be.

  • Take Away: Funding is a key dictator, so be sound in that respect. Do your math before the presentation. Understand the Return on Investment (ROI) as part of the proposal.

Whether requesting support for an IT project or a strategic market expansion (like selling in the US), justifying the decision to your board requires thought, preparation and some analysis, in language the Board will understand.

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