Helaine Suval’s View from the Boardroom…Q & A WITH CORPORATE BOARD DIRECTORSWhether you’re an experienced corporate board director or seeking your first corporate board seat, gaining insights and strategies from your peers on how they navigate corporate board service can enhance how you do too. Welcome to our new series of exclusive interviews with corporate board directors, “Views From The Boardroom”.
MEET HELAINE SUVAL
- President, Suval Consultants
- VIP Member, Women in the Boardroom
- Corporate Board Director, Lenox
- Former Corporate Board Director, Ashley Stewart
Interviewed by Angela Leaney for Women in the Boardroom
Helaine’s keys to success:
1) Never burn bridges and be on your A-game at all times, as opportunity can come from anywhere.
2) Your skills and track record can make you a great candidate for boards outside your immediate and chosen profession.
3) Inquiry can be a more effective and empowering problem solving approach than advocacy.
Helaine, tell me, how did your journey to the boardroom as a corporate director begin?
My journey to the boardroom started with a consulting project. I was consulting with a plus size fashion retailer on growing their ecommerce and omni-channel business. I worked with the CEO, CFO, the board and the management team to develop the strategy, present my findings and gain leadership support to deliver on the objective of growing the online business dramatically. The strategy worked, and I was invited to join their board of directors. It was my first board experience, and the fact that I knew everyone on the senior management team and the board, had presented to the board, and had built my credibility made the transition to the board role relatively easy. I was the first women (outside of the CEO), and the first outside director that they invited to join their board.
What characteristic did you exhibit that you believe was a critical factor in your successful candidacy for your first board appointment?
A track record of successfully delivering results in each role and situation. Strong interpersonal and communication skills. Never burn any bridges – you never know who you will cross paths with in the future, so always handle every situation professionally. A willingness to always go “above and beyond” expectations, and help others. People are always watching, whether you realize it or not, and assessing your viability for a future role. In my case, it was for a board role.