Milwaukee, Wis. -- A free online service that links both for-profit and nonprofit organizations to people interested in serving on boards is setting its sites on Milwaukee and the rest of Southern Wisconsin. DirectorConnector.com, which was jointly formed by the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP and Madison-based accounting firm Candela Solutions, was launched in the Madison area on February 1st.
“Not only are people signing up for the site, but they are using it” added Greg Meier, a partner in the business group of the Milwaukee office of Michael Best. “In the first two and a half months of its operations, targeting a limited geographic area, DirectorConnector has led to over 45 connections between individuals and organizations. This successful activity validates the need for the site.”
DirectorConnector’s founders believe the site’s favorable reception results from significant efficiencies and benefits through a large online database of candidates that is searchable by categories such as core competencies, credentials, and prior industry and board experience. “The market research Candela Solutions conducted among Southern Wisconsin business and community leaders told us that there was a real demand for a website that could streamline the process of connecting individuals and boards,” says Meier. “We know the site won’t replace informal networks for finding the right people to serve on boards. But it will supplement those efforts and, in some instances, provide a more timely, cost-efficient option. We believe that the DirectorConnector website will be especially valuable in bringing together individuals with unique backgrounds and experiences with organizations that need a specific expertise or perspective on their boards.”
National trends show that the importance of having qualified directors is as great as ever, with the demands on directors’ time increasing. In addition, independent directors are in strong demand driven by The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. According to Kral, “This is especially evident for specialized skills such as financial experts for audit committees, or IT wizards for technology committees to help guide management with critical decisions. Organizations are looking for fresh outside perspectives.”
Strong boards and good governance also make sense for privately-held companies and nonprofit organizations. The rewards of a strong board can be significant both personally and to the organization. A recent McKinsey & Co. report suggests that investors will pay a premium of 18-27% for well-governed companies, and there is also evidence suggesting that companies can lower their cost of capital as a direct result of good corporate governance. This can translate into nice returns for board members who have stock or stock options.
DirectorConnector’s search and match functionality provides registered users the ability to search nonprivate fields in the DirectorConnector database and facilitate the electronic exchange of private information upon mutual consent between candidates and organizations. Privacy is a major emphasis of the site. “We learned early on in our research that organizations and candidates want to protect their identity through the process of matching along the key variables the tool offers” says Meier. These variables include education, credentials, industry experience, core competencies and previous board experience for individuals looking for an advisory or statutory board position. Organizational variables include industry, size, compensation, and desired core competencies.
Once DirectorConnector is successfully servicing Southern Wisconsin, the site’s founders plan to target the rest of Wisconsin as well as Chicago. After that, who knows? “The larger the pool of candidates and organizations, the more valuable the tool becomes,” says Kral. “Geographical proximity is becoming less of an issue with rich-media tools to efficiently and effectively lure people together for board meetings.”
DirectorConnector.com (www.directorconnector.com) is an electronic database service to link potential directors with organizations of all types. Organizations recognize that experience and strong corporate governance are critical components in the ultimate success of their business or mission. DirectorConnector.com provides an efficient medium for the business and nonprofit communities to exchange information on the supply and demand of potential directors using a series of self-reported qualifiers. DirectorConnector’s central database, driven through the Internet, links potential directors with privately-held companies, publicly-held companies and nonprofit organizations, bringing a new level of efficiency to the board recruitment process.
About Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
Founded in 1848, Michael Best & Friedrich comprises over 300 attorneys in six locations, including Milwaukee, Madison, Waukesha and Manitowoc, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; and Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. The firm provides a full range of legal services to clients on a regional, national and international basis in areas that include business, corporate finance/securities, employment relations/ERISA, environmental, health care, intellectual property, international, litigation, real estate, taxation and wealth planning services.
Michael Best & Friedrich is the exclusive Wisconsin member of Lex Mundi (“Law of the World”), a network of more than 15,000 attorneys in more than 100 countries around the world.
About Candela Solutions LLC
Candela Solutions is a public accounting firm working with boards and management teams to help them reach their objectives through governance best practices, internal auditing, technology, strategic planning, and change management. These are the levers to position organizations to make prudent decisions for reaching goals and maximizing shareholder value. We also have specialized competencies to service public companies with Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, governments, nonprofits, and start-up businesses.