Understand the differences between role of management and board: DuPont

Mar 07, 2014
The ICD-Rotman Directors Education Program is the leading national program for experienced directors in Canada. ICD's Director Journal recently spoke to some of these alumni about their DEP experience and how they’ve applied the course learning to their board work. 

Director, NAV Canada
Bonnie DuPont, a former Enbridge Inc. executive who has sat as a director on both for-profit and non-profit boards, says gaining a clearer understanding of the differences between the role of management and board members was among the most important things she learned from taking the ICD-Rotman Directors Education Program.
“I was given great insight from the course in how a board member has to be responsible for the establishment of an organization’s operational strategy, and oversight of that strategy, but then has to let management be the ones to focus on executing on the operation and strategy,” says DuPont, who took the DEP seven years ago. She adds that as someone who has held a management position in a large company “you have to resist the temptation to become too involved in the minutiae of operational matters.”
At the time she retired, DuPont was group vice-president of corporate resources at Enbridge. She now sits on a number of boards, including NavCanada, Bird Construction and SilverBirch Energy Corp. Recently, she was named Chair of the University of Calgary’s board of directors. In the past, she has held positions on the boards of the Bank of Canada and Viterra Inc.

DuPont also says the DEP helped her focus on “how to ask the right questions” to both fellow board members and the management team. “It’s the tough, challenging questions that can help lead to the most productive responses and discussion.”
As much as DuPont says she learned from the instructors during her own time in the DEP, she says she also felt she learned from other members of her class, whom she describes as having been “a very accomplished group of people, representing a wide range of management and previous board experience.”
Being a student in the DEP was also a stepping stone to taking a bigger role in passing on her own experience and background to others who want to improve their skills as board directors.
She now instructs two modules of the program for DEP sessions run in Calgary and Edmonton - one that focuses on succession planning, the other on talent management.
“Given my experience in taking the course, I realize now how much I can also contribute to others who want to learn more about how to offer the most to any board they sit on.”

Source: ICD Director Journal

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