Johnson Board Fellow: Melissa D. Peddicord, MBA ’11
Project: My project was to provide the board with training on how to read their financial statements. This was in response to a request from some board members who wanted to have a better understanding of what to look for when reviewing and approving the financials.
Challenges: The definition of the project was relatively straightforward, but the difficulty was balancing [the complexity of the material], considering board members’ differing levels of knowledge. Going through the project, the biggest obstacle was getting buy-in to a recommendation regarding controls surrounding a particular item on the Food Bank’s balance sheet – trying to figure out how to present my recommendation to the board and get them to see the risk that I am pointing out can be difficult when you are a newer/younger addition to the committee.
Strategy: My strategy was just to gain a better understanding of all the line items on their financial statements to determine which items merit more attention. Then I tried to put together a presentation with sufficient content that also has sufficient visuals to connect the content to the financials.
Outcome: I think this is the first type of training like this that the board has had so they seemed very receptive to it and were engaged and asking questions to ensure they had a good understanding of how things worked together. Overall, after this presentation the food bank may make some enhancements based on feedback from the directors, and continue to use it going forward with new directors.
Value: I think that this experience has been valuable in a different manner than I had anticipated. The difficulties didn’t really stem from the technical aspects of the project, since this was in my comfort zone and was something I had a lot of experience in. Rather, this was helpful in learning how to communicate at the board level, and try to get buy-in and support from other board members.
Feedback: Food Bank of the Southern Tier President and CEO Natasha Thompson: “I think it’s a great program. It’s important for business students to have that experience serving their community in a very tangible way, in a way that they can share their strengths and have an impact.”