On 23 February, Surrey Business School hosted a board meeting for Qube Learning.
Our MBA students were given the rare opportunity to watch a live stream and interact with the owner, Gavin Whichello, as he provided a running commentary.
As with most MBA students, we picture ourselves sharply dressed, sitting in board meetings, asking all the questions. But what really gets discussed at a board meeting?
Many of us may have had the opportunity to interact with the attendees of board meetings at our places of work, but may not have had the chance to attend one. Keeping this in mind our MBA cohort was offered a unique opportunity to observe a board meeting of Qube Learning. What made this event one-of-a-kind, (apart from apparently being the first time this was being done at the Business School) was that it was not a staged meeting; but a real time event with real-time directors and tough questions being asked around.
Each board composition is different and usually comprises of the CEO, shareholders and non-shareholder stakeholders. This board meeting was a bit different; we had the CEO and the Directors as the well as the Owner of the company. One of the biggest advantages of an MBA, I’ve realized is that you get the opportunity to observe and learn from a very safe environment. Now since a meeting of this sort requires a formal setting and I am sure none of the board members would have felt at ease with 31 pairs of eyes staring at them intently through a window! We were provided a large screen for viewing pleasure (alas, no popcorn was included!) and we were able to observe the proceedings through remote collaboration.
Before the board meeting began, “the company owner” (who was with us in the classroom) took us through the flow of the meeting and stressed the “important bits”. He encouraged us to question him and challenge what was being stated by the board members. With snippets of information and investigative questions thrown to us in bits and pieces between the meetings, we were able to catch a pulse of what kind of preparation goes into attending such a meeting. Clearly, coming unprepared for such a meeting would be akin to walking into the lion’s den unarmed. The questioning (and cross-questioning) by the CEO was reflective of her confidence, as well as her obvious know-how of the business.
The opportunity of networking with the board members after the meeting was the highlight of the day (along with lunch of course!). Having a chance to interact closely and discuss our observations having our views deliberated upon was definitely a confidence booster for me; also seeing a woman at the helm of affairs, as well as an almost 40% female representation on the board, was a refreshing fact. In a day and age where companies are struggling with the number of women in leadership roles, this company is most certainly leading by a positive example.
Overall, the board meeting was a learning experience to understand critical thinking and decision making from a holistic business point of view.