If you want to sit on a high-profile board in WA, Mike Horabin is the man to talk to. The one-man show behind director recruitment firm Board Advice, shies away from the term kingmaker.
But there is little doubt a recommendation from Mr Horabin goes a long way to securing a seat on the roundtables every Perth business person wants to be on.
"He's the Perth guy," Tracey Horton, a member of the Navitas board and well-known Perth businesswoman said. "He puts more people on boards in Perth than anyone else. It's what he does. If you haven't spoken to Mike you're not really interested in sitting on a board."
When WestBusiness called Mr Horabin he was at first reluctant to speak about his role. "I don't usually get calls from The West Australian," he said.
Citing a reputation built over more than 20 years, he said he preferred to work on the sidelines and did not have a need to advertise or promote.
His business is built on word of mouth - a vocation that relies on reputation and trust.
"It's very difficult to write down how to do it," he said. "You just, sort of, do it. I run on instinct, and I've come to trust it and rely on it."
From not-for-profits to the State Government, the arts, family businesses or private and public companies, essentially Mr Horabin acts as a recruitment firm for WA businesses.
The process depends on the business. Generally he receives a call from a chairman - for the bigger companies it is a call from a nominations committee.
They provide him with the profile of the required candidate. His starting point is a private director register of clients, which he has maintained over 20 years.
"But you've got to remember it's not always about the background, profile and skills - the personality of a candidate is very important as well," he said.
"A board is a team of people that works in a combined environment, the board has a personality as a whole. And if you're going to add someone into the mix, you've got to make sure that'll add some magic. That's the art in trying to get the matching right.
"But you've got to remember I don't actually choose the person, my role is to put up a sufficiently broad array of candidates who are capable of filling the role. The board makes the final decision."
But the man who seemingly has so much influence in the structure of WA's corporate gatekeepers is also a pragmatist - he knows that in Perth, things do not change quickly.
"Ninety per cent (of board positions) are still done through personal networking," he said. "Ten years ago it was 98 per cent.
"So if you're serious about getting on boards you need to network. But I guess you could say there's the 90 per cent network and then there's my network.
"In 10 years time I would be very surprised if personal networking has gone down to 80 per cent . . . so it'll probably always be that way. That doesn't bother me, as long as they do it properly."
Mr Horabin has helped put many people on many boards but, from his perspective, the benchmark for directors is still the Wesfarmers board.
"If you look at the Wesfarmers example, it's quite interesting that Paul Bassat, the co-founder of Seek, was appointed to the Wesfarmers board (October 2012).
"You might ask why? But it's such a big retailer, it touches everyone through Coles, Bunnings and Officeworks - they recognise that social media and that element can be a huge weapon in that area if handled properly."For the full story get Thursday's The West Australian for WestBusiness Insider.