The website stateboards.ie is the channel used by the Public Appointments Service to both inform the public of vacancies on State Boards and to collate expressions of interest in those roles for the Minister. The Public Appointments Service is the centralised provider of recruitment, assessment and selection services for the Civil Service, Local Authorities, the Health Service Executive, An Garda Síochána and other public bodies. The Public Appointments Service also ‘aims to provide an open, efficient and effective gateway and process to identify top quality people for consideration by Ministers for appointment to State Boards’.
There are a number of typical competencies that may be deemed relevant to a position on a State Board. However, different competencies may apply to any particular vacancy, and these will be outlined in the documentation associated with each such vacancy. The typical competencies include:
Analytical Strategic Perspective
- An ability to take a broad future focused perspective on issues
- An ability to understand and anticipate the effect of environmental and economic issues on an organisation
- The ability to critically analyse information to identify the most relevant and critical issues.
Integrity and a Focus on Governance
- A strong sense of ethics and integrity
- Has a good understanding of what may constitute or be seen as a conflict of interests and acts to avoid or address issues of conflict of interest
- An appreciation of the state and the public as key stakeholders
- An understanding of good governance practices.
- An ability to work effectively with others as part of a team
- An ability to work with people with different perspectives to identify common ground and mutually acceptable solutions to problems.
Contribution and Effort
- A clear focus on the responsibilities of their role as a board member
- A strong commitment on ensuring they add value and positively impact on the organisation
- The resilience to adapt to changing circumstances
- The tenacity to persevere in challenging situations
- Acts as a role model for Board representation
- Comfortable operating within a Digital environment.
- The ability to communicate clearly orally and in writing
- The ability to ask relevant and pertinent questions.
- An ability to understand high level financial data
- An appreciation of budgets and good financial management practice
- The acumen to manage a business effectively.
Issues to Consider
In addition, if you are considering applying for a position on a State board, it is worthwhile thinking about the following:
First and foremost, critically ask yourself if you have the skills required by the board and the right experience as set out in the specification for the role. While you may be a highly experienced executive or board member, does that experience fit with the expectations for the particular position you are applying for? Make sure to take the time to tailor your application to the requirements of the role, highlighting the areas of your career history that are most relevant.
Conflict and Challenge
As is the case with any board position, and in the interests of transparency, you should not be conflicted. If appointed, your fiduciary responsibility as a board member is to the State body, including the Government as a shareholder and, principally, the Irish taxpayer.
State board members are collectively responsible for the long-term sustainability of State bodies and non-executive board members should provide independent challenge to strategy, performance, resources, key appointments, and standards of conduct.
Ask yourself if you are willing to voice your views, to constructively challenge executive management and to robustly debate board decisions.
Prior to applying for, or accepting, a board position, it is important to consider whether you have sufficient time to devote to the role. Serving on a State board, often for a relatively low level of remuneration, can be demanding of your time, particularly in the event of a crisis whereby the board may have an active role. Attendance at board meetings is only one aspect of the role, with advance preparation, committee meetings, stakeholder engagement, and so on, all expected.
While many people on State boards are there out of public duty, it is critical that you have the time to expedite that duty effectively.
Responsibility and Scrutiny
All directors must act honestly and responsibly, with a high degree of integrity. The responsibilities of State board members are wide and varied and subject to a high level of scrutiny. It is important to assess your ability to meet those responsibilities in the interests of your personal reputation and that of the State body.
Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies (2016)
The publication, Governance for Directors on State Boards, produced by the IoD in association with Mazars, is based on the principles of the revised Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies (2016) which is ‘designed to ensure that both commercial and non-commercial State bodies meet the highest standards of corporate governance.’