BoardPro is excited to present Pam Elgar ONZM to you, the CEO at Make-A-Wish New Zealand. Make-A-Wish NZ fosters joy and spreads hope by granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. The organisation’s goal is to bring magic to the lives of children who are missing out on everyday childhood activities due to illness by helping bring their one true wish to life.
Pam Elgar ONZM is a veteran in the Board world, having served as a number of Board and leadership roles across the the public, corporate and not (NFP) for profit sectors.
With excellent experience in governance and strong relationship management skills, Elgar is passionate about strengthening organisations through flexible, custom-tailored solutions.She serves as a Board member with Presbyterian Support Northern, working on both their finance, audit and risk committee and the CEO and Board committee. Presbyterian Support Northern provides social services aimed at helping people who are ageing or managing a health or disability issue, as well as offering social enterprise services. Elgar has held a wide variety of leadership and Board positions, including working as president of the Oceania Hockey Federation and as a member of the Executive Board with the International Federation of Hockey.
At BoardPro, we wanted to speak with Elgar to gain insight into how she manages her time and her secret to success when it comes to setting boundaries in her work-life balance. With our ever-more-digitally-dependent workstyle, it can be challenging to differentiate between work and home life.
With roughly twenty years of experience in the Board sector, she was the perfect person to speak to about this pertinent topic.
Q: Based on your two decades of experience across a variety of Boards, what are the main challenges for Board members and CEOs when it comes to time management?
Focusing on what is governance related i.e. keeping focused on strategic decisions, risk decisions, scanning the environment and understanding what is in the future to be discussing and thinking about. Reports need to be focused on what information needs to be shared and what decisions need to be made. Only include material that is relevant in board packs.
Q: What factors play a role in the challenges Board members face when trying to better-manage their time?
Needless to say board members have other lives and so they will always be juggling what is going on for them. The better the annual plan, the board cycle and clarity of decisions, discussion, risk the organisation needs to make the better it is for managing time.
If the board member is unable to commit to the requirements - they need to do the right thing and step down from the board to enable someone who does have the time, energy and capability to delivery can come in.
Q: What steps can Boards take to support their members in claiming ownership of their time?
Board members need to make decisions about the amount of time that they can commit to each board role they are on. Be clear about expectations and what is the best use of their time. Boards need to be realistic about the time required for meetings and the amount of information they actually need. This will differ for every organisation dependent on where it is at in its lifecycle. A start-up is going to need much more time than a well run well resourced not for profit. If an organisation is in strife for whatever reason, there will need to be more time and energy from the board.
Board members need to discuss openly the board role and what they can expect from the executive. The Board and Executive need to be a team solving problems of the organisation together.
Q: How can Boards save time and consolidate resources to focus on what truly matters for their organisation?
Review the Board Pack with the Chair and Executive and help the executive to understand what is needed and what is not. Also the meeting cycle may need to be reviewed. If a Board has a tendency to be too operational - shift meetings from monthly to two monthly. Or ask what strategic issue is your question trying to uncover.