Deborah is a 2009 alumna of the Board Institute. Her bio is available here.
BOARD SERVICE EXPERIENCE
Midland States Bancorp, Inc.
Compensation Committee Chair; Member of the Governance Committee
How did you learn about your current board opportunities? Did active networking play a role?
I was contacted by NACD, an organization I had joined in connection with my active networking for a board seat. I was networking, but it was focused on particular industries which I thought might be interested in the particular skills and abilities I bring to the board table.
How has DirectWomen helped you achieve your board service-related objectives?
DirectWomen provided a clear path for me to follow on the way to my first director position. I learned how to craft a board resume, give the "3 minute elevator speech" and consider various means by which to approach the process. Not only did DirectWomen provide a valuable learning experience, it was great to meet and discuss the challenges surrounding women on boards with tremendously talented class members and the alum.
What have been/were the most challenging aspects of establishing yourself as a director?
In short, learning the business and the financial metrics to evaluate performance and successful implementation of strategies.
Which of your skills/attributes do you believe have been most instrumental in your board role(s)?
Frankly, the most instrumental skills/attributes for board service are precisely the same ones that are instrumental to success as a lawyer. Those include a willingness to ask questions, take a deep dive into the business to evaluate strategies, clearly and persuasively communicate and to simplify otherwise complex matters.
What specific events, people or tactics (if any) have helped your transition from career woman to board director?
Before every board meeting, I remind myself that I am serving in an oversight role and not "in the trenches" management role.
What ongoing activities continue to develop/enhance your effectiveness as a director?
I continue to learn about banking, complex regulatory schemes and specific business strategies to help me enhance my effectiveness as a director.
What are your further short/medium/long-term board service objectives?
In the short term, continue in a board leadership position as Chair of the Comp Committee. In the coming two years, I would hope to add another board.
What advice would you give to aspiring women directors?
Although the pace is slow, more and more boards are seeking women candidates for directors. Focus in on industries where you have a deep knowledge/experience base or where diversity in the boardroom is a top priority. Continue to network and use the "playbook" from the DirectWomen Institute.