Jane Kinney is a member of the boards of Cenovus Energy Inc. – CEV (TSE) and Intact Financial Corporation – IFC (TSE). Previously, she was Vice Chair of Deloitte Canada, Deloitte Canada’s Managing Partner – Quality and Risk, and Chief Risk Officer for Deloitte globally.
Does the accounting profession encourage people to think about boards as a next stage career?
Yes, absolutely. Not everybody is interested in going that route. But the feeling was that with my background, experience and network that I would be successful. The firm sees a lot of advantages in having retired Deloitte partners active on boards across the country.
At Deloitte in the US we actually have a board preparatory session for retiring partners. We don’t have a program like that in Canada, but I attended the US program. Directors came in to speak about their experiences and what boards are looking for. Search firm leaders come in and talk about what their clients are looking for. There were a lot of statistics about the backgrounds and profiles of different people that recently joined public company boards. It was very helpful information.
What do you think were the key indicators that you would be a good fit for boards?
I’m a qualified financial expert, but a lot of people have that. My key differentiator would be my risk management expertise and my experience in leadership of the firm. It’s the risk management, strategy experience and the people oversight that made a difference.
How did you start building board experience?
I was very active in non-profit, professional and industry boards to build experience because we weren’t allowed to go on public company boards. It’s short sighted of people if they get to two or three years away from retirement and think, “I should get on a board”. It’s something you should be doing 10 to 15 years before you’re ready to transition. I also actually work in risk management and governance, so I was building expertise through my normal services.
What was your networking approach?
When I would interact with directors or senior executives during my last year or two at Deloitte, I’d make it very clear that I wanted to transition to a board career when I retired, even though it was too early to look for anything specifically. It’s a good idea, because people don’t know what you want to do, and they don’t know your timing. Sharing that information with your network is a good thing.
As I got closer, which was the last year, I became very structured. I hired a board coach to help with my board resume. I didn’t know what that should look like. We also talked through a strategy. It helped keep me accountable.
How did you expand your search beyond your own network of contacts?
I put together an Excel spreadsheet of a very long list of people who I thought were influential directors. Many of them I knew. However, there was a whole bunch that I didn’t know but knew somebody who did know them. Every week, I reached out to people to line up coffees and meetings. I was very deliberate about it. When I met them, I wouldn’t ask if there was an opening at any organization they were involved with. I asked them to tell me their story: how did they go about it? How did you end up on Board X, and what’s your experience like? I really learned a lot from different people. How did you decide what industry? How did you decide how much was enough in terms of the work commitment? How did you put together your board portfolio? Was it deliberate or opportunistic? I just learned a ton from talking to more than 40 people. And I also talked to all the key executive search firms. Through that process, I found out who are the most active in board searches, and I would get introductions.
What would you tell your younger self to do differently now?
I should have focused on health and fitness and managing my weight when I was younger. I was just so busy that I couldn’t. It’s kind of an excuse, but I couldn’t really focus on that in my earlier days and I think I should have. I would definitely tell young women to keep that balance right. Don’t be so crazy busy from a work standpoint and a kids standpoint and an aging parents standpoint that you can’t even manage to fit in any kind of exercise.