KEEP IT SIMPLE: How Patrick Kinsella prepares for board meetings.

Author:Hall, April
Position:BOARDBOOK: Survival Guide

Patrick Kinsella

Director, PennyMac

Financial Services, Wrap Technologies

Open discussions outside the boardroom are the most important part of Patrick Kinsella's board service.

"I'm really big on the informal dialog, so I go out and meet with the director of internal audits for an hour, hour and a half. I have a dialog or meet with the CFO, the person in charge of external audit and the financial reporting director before they make filings," he says. "It's important to have those relationships and interactions outside of the formal meeting process, without the ceremony of the meeting process itself.

The retired CPA (he keeps his certification current) has and continues to see board audit committees as a main role. "I probably spend more time on committee work than most," he says.

He follows a mantra, both as a board member and as a University of Southern California professor of accounting: "Keep it simple, stupid," he says, noting he edits out the "stupid" for his students.

Before board meetings he likes to ask a lot questions of management.

Since he's local to Penny Mac, which is headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., setting up in-person meetings is relatively easy, and board dinners are also a good opportunity to connect with executives across the organization because a lot of senior and mid-level executives attend. It gives him another chance to get "a little remedial" help on issues "other people understand a little better than I do."

"I'm a simple-minded person. I have a certain intellect, but I get back to basics," he says. "It takes a certain amount of self-confidence sometimes to know the best questions are the most fundamental questions."

Kinsella also recently joined the board of Wrap Technologies, a company that is working on a...

To continue reading