NEWS RELEASE: Excellence in Board Leadership

NEWS RELEASE – VANCOUVER, CANADA – MARCH 8, 2018 - The 2nd annual ELO Vancouver Workshop held on March 7th, 2018 on “Excellence in Board Leadership for Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations” was a great success, drawing 80 attendees from the greater Vancouver area and as far away as Prince George, BC and Grande Prairie, AB.  

The breakfast ELO workshop featured three experts to highlight different aspects of being on a board.  The three sponsors of this event were:  Covenant Family Wealth Advisors (, McQuarrie Hunter LLP, Barristers & Solicitors ( and Avisar Chartered Professional Accountants (  

Rick Goossen, Strategic Counsel, Covenant spoke on a “strategic perspective.”  Rick stressed the fact that a board can be a competitive advantage for organizations.  He addressed five key strategic questions:  What are the options?   What is the value of a board?  How to get directors?  Why be a director? And what are the challenges of being on a board? 

He highlighted the difference between a “board of directors” and an “advisory board.”  A board of directors is a legally-defined entity and directors have various obligations and liabilities.  An advisory board, by contrast, provides advice which the owners of the company can accept or reject.   Advisors also do not have any liability.  Rick looked at the applicability of each board in both business and NPO contexts.

There were six concluding take-away’s from this presentation.  First, “think, then act” — a “proper” board forces a company to take time to reflect—which they don’t often do.  Second, a skilled facilitator / chair will transform the effectiveness of a board.  Third, pursue excellence in your board in addition to in your business.  Fourth, understand the practical dynamics of running a board.  Fith, review whether to pursue an advisory board or board of directors.  Sixth, have your board be an integral part of your competitive advantage.

Tako Van Popta and Cindy Zheng, Lawyers, McQuarrie Hunter LLP, addressed excellence in board leadership from a legal perspective.  They concluded with some insights on limiting risks and steps to protect a director:  always do your due diligence; always act in good faith; reliance on business judgment rule; engage professionals for their advice; educate directors of their obligations; indemnification agreements (limited coverage); and director’s and officer’s insurance (broader coverage).  Due diligence should be documented so that if challenged, there is a paper trail to show that there were steps taken, prior to the decision being made (what type of information was sought; what risks/factors considered; the rationale for the course selected in the end; document the steps).

Steven Krause, Partner, Avisar Chartered Professional Accountants, spoke on a “financial perspective.”  Steve provided an excellent overview of the importance of financial literacy.  Boards need to understand the financial affairs of an organization.  For example, the Board closely monitors the potential vulnerability of the Corporation’s operations and financial condition in light of risks that arise in relation to the Corporation’s business.  Not every board member loves to deal with finance and accounting issues, but the directors’ obligations cannot be avoided.  A board should allow time for “experts” to work with management and ensure accounting and finance functions and the risks related to it are mitigated.

After the three presentations, there was an extended Q & A session.  The attendees provided a lot of positive feedback regarding the event and it clearly addressed a need in the business community.

All the PowerPoint presentations are available at: