Boardroom Theatrics: Moving from Hard to Soft Board Packs

Simbiat 'Atoke' Braimoh Habeebu

We had spent the last sixty days putting together the board packs for the 28th Board Meeting of the Company. Our nightmares started from the Management Report. It’s a 200 page document. I recall how on several occasion as Company Secretaries, we have tutored the Company’s Management team on the best practices of preparing Management Report for the Board Meetings. Clearly, the Management Team has in words and action shown to us that they are not teachable on this issue or that they are not bound to listen to our genuine advice. So by and large we just let them dump as much as they have on us while we take the stress of ensuring they become presentable to the Board.

This time around, for some reasons known to everyone in the company, we had so much papers dumped on us. The Management Report (200 pages) has to be compiled with other reports (Audit Report, Board Committee Report etc) for deliberation by the Board. By the time we concluded with the compilation. We had a 500 page Board pack. “How on earth could the Board Members consider these pages in a 2 hour meeting?” I had thought to myself quietly. “Is there no way these pages can be sent to the Board Members electronically and they access the materials on their electronic gadgets during the meeting?” I continued to query my imagination. I was feeling terrible on behalf of the members of the board despite the fact that my responsibility of getting the papers to the board was also herculean.

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It is a Board of 12 members. Our office is on the 12th floor in one of the high rise buildings at Marina Lagos. The Board meeting is scheduled to hold somewhere in Ikeja Lagos.

To get the Board Parks to Ikeja, we had to get four big plastic bag otherwise called “Ghana –must-go bags and got four errand boy ‘Aboki’s to carry the bags to the waiting van on the ground floor. All done, we headed to the venue of the Board Meeting.

Waow, I forgot to mention earlier that the Board had just appointed two non-executive members of the Board who were going to be at the board meeting with us for the very first time. Upon arrival at the company, we ran into one of the newly appointed non-executive members of the Board. The moment the man saw us struggling with the Ghana must go bags, he exclaimed, “Are those for deliberation of the Board?” We nodded our heads like it was choreographed and simultaneously murmured “yes” like the attitude of a teenager who still bed wets and was asked if she had again done her usual.

The man went bizarre “this is unacceptable”, “what is going on here”, “this is an archaic Boardroom Practice” “this must stop, we can’t continue like this” “I would be cursed to look at those stuffs in there” “Is this some kind of joke?” These questions continued rhetorically. For us, we just did our job – compiled Board meeting materials for the Board Meeting!

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I would tell you what later happened in subsequent posts…

Simbiat ‘Atoke’ Braimoh Habeebu (Legal Practitioner and Chartered Secretary)

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