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Happy Holidays from the Team at WATSON!

Dec 20, 2013


Please note that the WATSON offices will be closed from December 24th at 1:00 pm until January 2nd, 2014. We look forward to working with you again in the new year!

Don Prior Weighs In On The Challenges Of Headhunting

Dec 19, 2013

Today's Business section of The Vancouver Sun discussed the challenges of headhunting in today's environment. Don Prior, with over 25 years of experience in recruitment, weighed in on some important topic areas.


The Changing Face of Networks

In the old days, a small personal network "from people's days at UBC or the Council of Forest Industries or relationships that went back as far as St. Georges (private school)" were invaluable, Vancouver search consultant Don Prior of Watson Advisors said, but in today's board environment of process and transparency, the power of those networks has eroded.

Homegrown companies such as MacMillan Bloedel, Westcoast Energy, Loewen Group, Dairyland, Canadian Pacific Air Lines and Phillips, Hager & North are either gone or no longer based in Vancouver. Vancouver's largest organizations are now taxpayer-funded health authorities, Crown corporations, school districts, universities and municipalities.


Candidate Identification vs. Candidate Placement

With LinkedIn and Google, everyone's identifiable, Prior said.

Every headhunting firm in B.C., large or small, would have known Lululemon's newly named CEO, Laurent Potdevin, as a potential candidate, for example. "The identification isn't the challenge. It's the evaluation and fit. The ability to close."


Interdisciplinary Hires/Focus on Local Candidates

While Vancouver doesn't have as many head offices, it has many "really interesting" positions in the not-for-profit world, Prior said.

"There's a lot of talent here. If people look at interdisciplinary hires, they'll find that's as valid a solution as spending a lot of money on someone from somewhere else. There's tremendous talent in places like government, but it takes people with an open mind, such as Jimmy Pattison when he recruited Glen Clark, and Vancity, Tamara Vrooman."

"If you look at the world economy over the last few years, the best bankers in the world aren't from the U.K. or the U.S. but are Canadian," Prior said, naming TD Bank Group's Ed Clark and Royal Bank's Gord Nixon.


To read the full article in context, click here.

Looking for a Chief Executive Officer - Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation

Sep 27, 2013

UPDATE: This position has been filled. 

We are working with Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation to find their inaugural Chief Executive Officer. If you are a strategic and solutions oriented leader who is passionate about youth, the outdoors and the community, are a relationship builder, and have extensive experience working with boards, we want to hear from you!

For more information and details on how to apply, click here.

Looking for Board Directors - BC Safety Authority

Aug 23, 2013

UPDATE: These positions have been filled. 

We are working with the BC Safety Authority to find four Directors for their Board. If you have a combination of experience in the areas of governance, financial literacy, government relations, technology, regulatory/enforcement and industry knowledge, we want to hear from you!

For more details on the position and how to apply, click here

Winners of CSCS Excellence in Governance Awards Announced

Aug 20, 2013

This week, our President and Founder, Liz Watson, participated on the judging panel of the Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries Excellence in Governance Awards, held in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The awards ceremony was attended by close to 300 of Canada's top governance practitioners and leaders from the corporate, non-profit, crown and public sectors, and recognizes the important contribution governance professionals make in terms of best practices that build and sustain shareholder and stakeholder value. The awards underscore the critical role that good governance plays in sustaining the value of Canada’s public companies, crown corporations, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations, contributing to the competitiveness of Canada’s economy and its capital markets.

The winners were announced last night with awards being distributed in the following categories:

  • Best sustainability, ethics and environmental governance programs
  • Best use of technology in governance, risk and compliance
  • Best approach to board and committee support
  • Best shareholder or stakeholder engagement by a governance team
  • Best overall corporate governance
  • Best approach to board diversity
  • Joyce Borden-Reed CSCS distinguished contribution award
  • Peter Dey Lifetime achievement award

WATSON congratulates the full list of winners!

Call for Nominations: MEC Board of Directors

Aug 9, 2013

UPDATE: These positions have been filled. 

Mountain Equipment Co-op has begun the call for nominations for their Board of Directors. If you connect strongly with the values and culture of MEC, have board or senior management experience in a complex organization (or professional leadership experience), as well as experience in the retail sector, supply chain, and/or information technology, they want to hear from you!

To see a copy of the ad, click here

For more details on the Nominee Criteria and/or to submit Notice of Intention to Run, please click here.

Looking for Board Directors - TransLink

Aug 6, 2013

UPDATE: These positions have been filled.

We are working with TransLink to find Directors for their Board. If you have previous experience in a complex organization, and a combination of experience in areas of board leadership, public policy/economics, sustainability/environment, intergovernmental relations/local government and/or public consultation/communications, we want to hear from you!

For more details on the position and how to apply, click here. A copy of the Recruitment Brief can be found here.

Should Ministers have discretion to make board appointments against advice from the department or company?

Aug 2, 2013

The recent scandal at Sydney Water suggests not - here is a brief extract from the press coverage of the disaster:

FINANCE Minister Greg Pearce has become the first ministerial scalp in the O'Farrell government, sacked by the Premier after The Daily Telegraph informed him Mr Pearce had appointed his wife's boss to Sydney Water's board.

After a raft of revelations on his travel, appointments and relationship with lobbyists, The Daily Telegraph discovered yesterday Mr Pearce ignored Sydney Water recommendations and instead went with his own three hand-picked candidates.

One of those appointed to a $60,000-plus position in late 2011 was the eminent Sydney University Law School General Counsel Richard Fisher, who employs Mr Pearce's wife Shauna Jarratt as his assistant group secretary. Mr Pearce signed-off on his appointment without telling the Premier this information. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Mr Fisher or Ms Jarratt.

The Premier and Treasurer signed off on the appointment as shareholder ministers, unaware of the conflict of interest.

For a LinkedIn discussion on this topic, click here.

Joining Boards: It's Not Just Who You Know That Matters

Jul 18, 2013

At WATSON, we believe that effective board recruitment goes far beyond your rolodex. We work with organizations to ensure they are building a board with appropriately diverse assets and skills, according to their industry's needs. This article supports our view of the importance of recruiting directors based on the skills and knowledge required to build a balanced board.


For many, a corporate directorship is a career capstone. But attaining one is far from easy. No one can say for sure how to get on a corporate board, but many people point to two routes: the first is to break into the "right" network and the second is to seek a progression of board seats that begins with, for example, a seat on a not-for-profit or community board and eventually results in appointment to a corporate board.

Both paths are problematic — neither is particularly transparent or relies on objective measures and given that many boards are stubborn bastions of white masculinity, pursuing the "right" network can be fraught, especially for women and other diverse candidates. Indeed, our research reinforces that concern: many boards still rely on their own (mostly white, mostly male) networks to fill seats.

To read the rest of the article, click here