December 9, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
It has become almost unofficial sport for the residents of this city to second-guess the management of the eternally frustrating local pro football team.
Well, it's time to put up, or shut up.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced Friday that one lucky member of a city full of armchair quarterbacks will get a chance to show us all how smart they really are as the new 13th director on the Bombers board of directors.
Beginning Friday and continuing until June 7, the club is accepting open nominations from the public for the newest director. The nominees that most closely match a long list of criteria -- everything from previous managerial experience to a history of volunteerism and good citizenship -- will be referred to the current board for consideration by a nominating committee.
The Bombers say an election will then be held in either July or August and the new director installed immediately, taking a seat on the board right alongside Bombers legends such as Bob Cameron and corporate bigwigs such as David Asper.
The Bombers board used to be restricted to a dozen directors but incoming board chairman Brock Bulbuck announced late last month the creation of a new 13th director to be openly drawn from the general public as part of a broader effort to make the board more transparent.
Bulbuck said that while the general public has always been eligible to stand for election as a Bombers director, the board did a poor job of advertising that fact and the result was a perception of the Bombers board as "an Old Boy's club."
"It's not true -- it's not an Old Boy's club," Bulbuck said in an interview Friday. "Board nominations are open to everyone, but what we came to realize is we didn't openly make that public, we didn't communicate that to everyone...
"It is a bit of a perception issue. But you know the old phrase, perception is a real issue. And if our community doesn't understand and appreciate that this is a community, volunteer board that's made up of members of the community who truly have the best interests of the Winnipeg Football Club and the sustainability of football in Winnipeg for years to come at heart, then we have to tell them that."
So what does the Bombers board do? Well, for the past 3-4 years, they have been unusually hands-on as they first led a study to determine the viability of a new stadium and then, more recently, have been deeply involved in the minutiae of actually building it.
But with the stadium set to open later this month and that process drawing to a close, Bulbuck said the board will retreat to its more customary "governance" role, where it oversees the general operation of the club but allow the paid management -- people such as CEO Garth Buchko, COO Jim Bell and GM Joe Mack -- to handle the gritty details of day to day operations.
The board doesn't call plays, hire or fire coaches or determine the price of that game-day beer, in other words. "Those are decisions of management," Bulbuck said. "The board's job is to oversee management to ensure management has given careful consideration to all of the elements that go into making that decision.
"But ultimately, the operational decisions are decisions that need to be left to management. But in the community I have people come up to me when the team goes through challenging times and say, 'Are you guys going to fire the coach?' And I explain to them that really isn't the role of the board."
Because of all the stadium-building in recent years, Bulbuck -- who is the president and CEO of the Boyd Group -- explained there has been very little turnover on the Bombers board, just a couple of directors in the last three years.
But that is also about to change, Bulbuck said, noting the board's by-laws have recently been changed to shorten the time a director can serve. He says the changes will result in continuous turnover in the coming years of 1-3 directors every year.
How to nominate
THE Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday announced the nomination process for a new 13th director. Nominations -- of yourself or others -- can be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to: 315 Chancellor Matheson Rd., Wpg, MB, R3T 1Z2. Nominations can also be dropped off at the club's administration offices at Investors Group Field.
The current Bombers board has established a list of criteria it would like to see in a new candidate, including previous board experience, financial literacy and management or business experience. The complete list of criteria can be found at: http://www.bluebombers.com/board-nomination-process
Once the nomination process closes June 7, applications will be reviewed by a Nominating Committee and qualified candidates will then be referred to the board and an election will take place.
The Bombers said the club is hopeful to have the new director selected at either the July or August board meeting this summer.
The newest director will join these 12 directors already on the Bombers board:
Brock Bulbuck, Chairperson
Debbie Metcalfe, Secretary Treasurer
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 4, 2013 C4