Chairman of the Board at Scaniro: A person with a distinct profile
The advisor thrives with 14 boards
By Nordjyske Stiftstidende, Business, Tuesday 21 February 2012
JOB: Job: 47-year-old Torben Andersen makes his living through board positions in North Denmark businesses - and loves the freedom of it...
By Lars Høj
HJOERRING: - My role in the many boards is to get ideas and to think them through properly. Can they succeed, are they profitable and is it in this direction the particular company should move?
I must think beyond everyday life, where most people are busy – and but not always in a hurry doing the right thing.
The quote is by Torben Andersen, who in 2008 said goodbye to his job as managing director and co-owner of the HP Group. For 10 years he helped to develop the Group and now felt that it was time for a new chapter in his life - a life as a professional board member.
Previously he spent more time with management in the HP group than with his family. The flexibility that the job change brought - has led to more time for the family.
- Always room for improvement
Torben Andersen already had some board experience and felt that he was more passionate about strategic thinking and long-term goals than solving operational problems from day to day. And he felt that much could be done differently and better.
- A good board must be managed properly. Members must know what their mission is and an ambitious agenda must be set - and it is not obvious that this is so. I have more than once seen a director fall asleep in a board meeting and that is no good if you want a business to develop.
There are plenty of talented people, but if the structure of the development work is not well thought out and is maintained by a good board –well, then things just don't happen, he says.
The network is everything
As Torben Andersen in 2008 established Torben Andersen Consulting, he was a member of a few boards and had a large network in North Jutland businesses. The plan was clear enough, but how do you go about it.?
- You don't place an ad asking for board positions, he says with a smile.
Instead the long haul in the personal network paid off.
- I know that some people are opposed to recruiting within your own network, but it is very important to know exactly who you trust with a particular task, says Torben Andersen - almost with a little apologetic smile and knowing that it can be difficult for outsiders to make their way in from the cold.
14 boards that's my limit
Today Torben Andersen is member of 14 boards. This is his limit - which has nothing to do with the number.
- There are boards that fills a lot for a period and others, which requires only a few hours a year.
Therefore, it is impossible to define an appropriate number of board positions, says Torben Andersen, who has several criteria that must be met before he feels his work life is optimal.
- I need free space in the calendar for unforeseen things. The worst thing I can do is to plan my time 100 percent, as situations regularly occur that require action here and now. And there must be room in my calendar for that, he says.
In addition, Torben Andersen needs room in his calendar as well as mentally to feel properly informed about developments in the 14 companies.
- The board has both a legal and a moral obligation to ensure that cashflow is in order, the payment of tax and VAT, and that the management operates in accordance within the limits set by the Board.
If it fails, we must intervene immediately, he says.
Most of Torben Andersen network is in the construction industry, which is reflected in his board memberships. Though coherence should be found somewhere else.
- A proper board works in these fields - economics, management and organization and development strategy.
This is the Boards fundamental responsibility - and exactly what I love to deal with, says Torben Andersen.
A life filled with chaptersWith 14 directorships and consultancy work for another eight companies Torben Andersen have a highly structured work day - and calendar. - I'm good at dividing my time into chapters where I concentrate on one thing at a time. And then I always keep long lists of things I need to remember, he says.On average, Torben Andersen works in his home office one day a week, while the rest of the time is spent at company headquarters around the region.Healthy with a crisis- Many of the things that were possible five years ago, should never have been implemented. It had become too easy, simply , says Torben Andersen - who obviously would rather have done without the financial crisis - but also see the redeeming feature of it. - The requirements for businesses, both established companies and entrepreneurs, has intensified significantly. It creates greater professionalism and insight into what you actually do, and this is positive, he says, and states that: - When people do a professional job, things can usually also be done. And today, there are many who make money, but they work hard for it - and it's basically very healthy.- I'm really, really fineWhere Torben Andersen - before 2008 - was financially dependent on his salary from HP Group, he is now much more free. None of his directorships or customers are vital for his private finances, and this is a deliberate choice.He loves his work in the layer above the daily activities, and always look ahead and focus is kept on the long-term goals. The management and employees take care of the daily tasks, and this is how it should be. - I'm really, really fine where I am now, says Torben Andersen, who doesn't imagine that his life should ever look different.
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