Having served as a member of more than 30 public and private boards across the United States and around the world, Rancho Santa Fe’s Michael J. Berthelot knows more than just a thing or two about board service.
“I’ve had a blast,” Berthelot said. “I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve met a lot of really, really nice and motivating people.”
With decades of board experience under his belt, Berthelot, 65, now spends much of his time teaching new and aspiring directors how to navigate the boardroom.
Berthelot currently teaches the Governance Academy, which is facilitated by San Diego-based Corporate Directors Forum. Founded in 1991, the nonprofit organization promotes high standards of professionalism and ethics in corporate governance by offering educational programs to help directors, officers and business leaders build more effective boards.
“The mission is that better directors make better boards,” Berthelot said. “The key to being a better director is education and networking. Education will give you the formal knowledge you need, but networking will give you the real answers to how it gets done in the real world. You learn from your peers, so we’re big believers in peer-to-peer networking.”
Originally from Ohio, Berthelot earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting at the University of Akron and a master’s degree in accounting and finance at Cleveland State University.
In the early 1990s, Berthelot moved to New Jersey to serve as board chairman and chief executive officer of TransTechnology Corporation, a designer and manufacturer of lifting devices for military and civilian aircraft, including rescue hoists, cargo hooks and weapons-lifting systems. He retired in 2003 and relocated to Rancho Santa Fe, although he remained chairman of the board for another three years.
Berthelot joined Corporate Directors Forum shortly before he moved to San Diego.
“Once I retired, I knew I wanted to be involved in corporate governance,” said Berthelot, who was a founding member of the New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors.
“I’ve been involved ever since,” added Berthelot, who later served as a board member and chief executive officer of Irvine-based Pro-Dex, Inc., another publicly traded company. “This is a way for me to share what I’ve learned.”
Berthelot has served as board chair and chair of Corporate Directors Forum’s program committee. He currently serves as chair of the education committee, which is responsible for the Governance Academy’s curriculum.
The Governance Academy offers a variety of programs, including a half-day program, a two-day program, and custom, in-house programs for companies.
To further educate people in corporate governance, Corporate Directors Forum offers monthly panel discussions and an annual conference.
“We want to be able to cover the whole spectrum of organizations in San Diego and other areas for corporate governance,” said Berthelot, who also serves on the board of directors of Fresh Del Monte Produce, a Florida-based consumer products company.
In addition to working with Corporate Directors Forum, Berthelot currently serves as a chief executive officer of Mission Manager and chief financial officer of Mtell — two San Diego software companies where he also sits on the board of directors.
Berthelot is also the founder of two consulting companies. He works with private companies through Cito Capital Corporation, which was founded in 2004, and he works with public companies through Corporate Governance Advisors, which was founded in 2005.
Lastly, Berthelot, a father of six and grandfather of five, also serves as a lecturer at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management, where he teaches a class called, “The CEO, The Board of Directors, and Corporate Governance.”
“It’s fun,” Berthelot said. “If you’re having a good time and you enjoy what you’re doing, it’s not like it’s real work.”
For more about Corporate Directors Forum and the Governance Academy, visit www.directorsforum.com.