Want to join a German supervisory board? Your chances may be better than you think

Supervisory Board Mandate

The qualities embodied by the ideal supervisory board member are changing, and you might be surprised to see how you stack up.

In Germany, members of a company’s supervisory board maintain a system of checks and balances regarding the legality, correctness, expediency and efficiency of the decisions made by management.

While supervisory boards are legally required for listed companies in Germany, it is far from a body created simply to satisfy regulators. Nor are supervisory board mandates to be seen as perks for friends and close business contacts; candidates with the best mix of competence, professionalism, and commitment for supervisory board positions are currently being sought. Companies have recognized the importance of having a professional and competent supervisory board in response to shareholder demands.

Therefore, it is an exciting time for someone who possess these qualities to consider exploring a supervisory board mandate.

Competence – A strong candidate for a supervisory board mandate brings theoretical and practical knowledge and business experience, particularly in the areas of strategy, financing, financial reporting and accounting, compliance and risk management, taxes, and controlling.

Commitment – Fulfilling a mandate means attending all board meetings (including adequate preparation and follow-up), pursuing education and further training opportunities, and staying up-to-date on developments within the company and the branch. Board mandates are not badges of honor, but a duty that needs to be taken seriously. Candidates who embrace this principle are at an advantage.

Digitalization– This is a particular area where companies need to be fortified with experts on the supervisory board. This ranges from using digital tools to achieve better access and assessment of business-relevant information, to properly addressing cybersecurity risks. This is an excellent opportunity to display leadership within a board by brining other members up to speed in this critical area.

Diversity – Supervisory board member mandates are increasingly being given to candidates who would not have typically fit the profile in the past. This does not refer to equal opportunity initiatives in boardrooms (although those are also on the rise), but to the fact that candidates from outside of Germany are increasingly being considered, as are younger candidates with less experience overall but who may be experts in a particular area (such as cybersecurity).

Do your strengths lie in any of the areas I’ve listed? You may be a better fit for a supervisory board mandate than you think. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you’d like to take a closer look your qualifications – matching supervisory board candidates to corporate mandates is part of what I do.

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