Recurring themes for today’s board members include enhanced expertise in executive compensation; CEO and board succession planning; and heightened attention to the board’s existing skill set and future requirements.
As the Directors & Boards team put the finishing touches on this year’s class of Directors to Watch, a mid-July headline from Smithsonian.com caught our collective eye: “It’s Easy to Forget that Just Fifty Years Ago, Equality for Women Was a Strange Concept.” The subhead, “The 50th anniversary of the National Organization of Women is at hand and it’s still personal — and political,” in many ways sums up the challenges facing women on boards as they strive to reflect the broader society in which they operate while bringing diversity, definable value, and insight to the boardroom.
For the 20 women directors profiled in the following pages, nearly every day brings a new facet to the execution of effective director service and governance best practices. We changed Directors to Watch 2016 a bit for this, our 40th anniversary year — shortening professional profiles while asking our respondents to weigh in on what drives their passion to serve and what it takes to be a public company director these days.
Responses included relatively new issues, including accelerated change and marketplace disruption, however derived, across all sectors; the advent of technological shifts such as artificial intelligence and widespread introduction of robotics; and a growing sense of the requirement for directors to educate themselves on the core threats and opportunities resident in the companies they guide and the worlds they traverse.
Enhanced expertise in executive compensation, CEO and board succession planning, and attention to the board’s existing skill set and future requirements, made up part of the list of recurring themes for today’s Directors to Watch.
In the category of evolving concerns for directors and boards, the relentless pressure of cybersecurity was joined by ever-changing regulatory and legal requirements defining director service and the creeping realization that the deep pool of talented Baby Boomer executive men and women of all backgrounds is slowly being supplanted by a younger but smaller generation of future board leaders and CEOs who will bring new ideas and approaches to director service while possibly limiting the numbers and choices available to nominating committees and the C-suite.
Statistics continue to illustrate the incremental increase in gender diversity on boards, too slow for some and maybe too fast for others. For the 2016 class of Directors to Watch, going beyond “seeing around corners” is integral to their shared vision of what it means to be effective 21st century board and business leaders.
Sandra E. Peterson
Group Worldwide Chairman, Johnson & Johnson Director, Microsoft Corp.
Sandra (Sandi) E. Peterson is playing a leading role in transforming the world’s largest health care company. She is responsible for Johnson & Johnson’s global operating infrastructure and consumer-facing businesses that generate over $20 billion in revenue and include iconic brands such as Johnson’s Baby, Neutrogena, Listerine, Tylenol, Clean & Clear, Acuvue, OneTouch and Band-Aid. She is leading key enterprise initiatives to spur innovation and accelerate growth, and is driving J&J’s efforts to transform health care using technology and design-thinking to create breakthrough solutions for patients, consumers and providers.
Sandi is a board member of Microsoft, and was formerly on the board of directors of Dun & Bradstreet Corp., where she chaired the innovation and technology committee. She was a founding member of WomenCorporateDirectors, and is a member of Women’s Forum and C200. Sandi has been named to Fortune magazine’s list of The Most Powerful Women three times. She holds a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.P.A. from Princeton University.
Supporting a Transformation Agenda: “In today’s world, the most enduring companies will be those that continuously reinvent themselves. Economic conditions, competitive environments and markets evolve rapidly, and technological disruption is rendering established business models irrelevant and ineffective in many industries. It’s critical for directors to embrace their role as partners and advisors to leadership in setting the strategic — and often the transformation — agenda. Their diverse experiences provide valuable input and perspective when transformation is required. Directors are responsible for ensuring that the company asks the tough questions, looks around corners, and has the capabilities, talent and culture required to successfully execute its reinvention. Compensation committees must ensure that incentives are aligned to reward the behaviors and achievement of milestones to effect business model and cultural change.”
Director, Honeywell International Inc., Southwest Airlines Co.
Grace Lieblein has over 20 years of experience in senior executive positions in the automotive industry. She retired as vice president of Global Quality for General Motors in 2015 after a career that spanned 37 years. Among the highlights, she was chief engineer for the very successful mid-size crossover vehicles that include the award-winning Buick Enclave. She was the first woman to be named as president and managing director of GM Mexico, and from there she became president and managing director of GM Brazil. Prior to her Quality position, she was vice president of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain for the company.
Lieblein has been a director on the board of Honeywell since 2012, and has served on several nonprofit boards as well. She joined the board of Southwest Airlines in January 2016.
She has been recognized numerous times for her business and technical achievements, including the Michigan Women’s Foundation 2015 Women of Achievement and Courage award, the 2014 Engineer of the Year by Great Minds in STEM, and 2013 Fortune magazine’s 10 Most Powerful Women in Automotive.
Balancing Act: “A top issue facing board members today is the need to balance the views and perspectives of large institutional shareholders and organizations with the specific needs of the corporations on whose boards they serve. Dodd-Frank reforms and increased participation of large institutional investors add a new dimension to what board members must consider as part of their oversight and policy-setting responsibilities. Incorporating shareholder views into board-level decision making in a way that contributes to long-term value creation for shareholders and other constituencies is a delicate balancing act. It requires board members to have a deep understanding of the needs of the corporation and a finely tuned ear to emerging trends in corporate governance.”
Director, Associated Banc-Corp, Legg Mason Closed End Mutual Funds, Westell Technologies Inc.
Eileen Kamerick is known as a strategic and collaborative executive who drives profitable growth and enhances shareholder value. She is a leader in finance and corporate governance, an SEC Audit Committee Financial Expert, and an adjunct professor at leading law schools. She holds an MBA, with honors, in Finance and International Business and a JD from The University of Chicago. She serves as audit chair at Legg Mason Closed End Mutual Funds and Westell Technologies. She chairs the nominating and governance committee at Associated Banc-Corp. She is an NACD Board Leadership Fellow.
Kamerick served as CFO for major global corporations including Leo Burnett, Heidrick & Struggles International, Houlihan Lokey, and BP Amoco Americas. She also chaired several of those corporations' foundations. She has spoken on corporate governance to numerous national organizations and law schools.
She serves as vice chairman of Eckerd Kids, a national child welfare charity, and is on the boards of Cristo Rey’s Tampa Bay High School and Christ the King High School in Chicago. She is profiled in The Board Game: How Smart Women Become Corporate Directors (Angel City Press, 2013). She is a member of the Chicago Network, the Economic Club of Chicago, and the Chicago Finance Exchange.
Balancing Three Critical Areas: “The three critical areas that boards must focus on to fulfill their duty to shareholders are strategy, performance management, and succession planning. The board needs to balance these responsibilities with ever-increasing regulatory and compliance requirements. Directors need to ensure that the board and management set aside the time to fully debate and discuss the strategic and competitive landscape. In this way, the board sets the tone for a rigorous compliance culture while also fostering innovation and nurturing growth.”
Director, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., Bank of Montreal
Before her portfolio career, Jan Babiak spent 28 years in global leadership at EY, based in London for two decades, leading information security/cyber risk, climate change and sustainability, and regulatory and public policy practices.
As a U.S. CPA and British Chartered Accountant, she chairs the Walgreens Boots Alliance audit committee. On the Bank of Montreal board she sits on the audit and risk committees, and on the finance committee of GHD Group, a private Australian-based engineering firm. She is past audit chair for Logica PLC, a then-FTSE 150 technology company, and a past board member for the Royal Mail during its successful IPO from government ownership directly into the UK’s FTSE 100.
Her career focus on ‘digital’ provided sector experience working in financial services, technology, chemical, energy, media, transportation, government, retail, entertainment, health care, and more. She co-authored a definitive book on IT security governance, Defending the Digital Frontier: Practical Security for Management (Wiley, 2004). Agenda, a Financial Times publication for board members, named her in the International 100: Top Board Candidates with Global Skills.
Don’t Let Fear Prevent Action: “Most companies finally and rightly consider cybersecurity threats a top risk (Darwinism will likely deal with the rest). But, time allotted to technology is now often disproportionately focused on fear and uncertainty, creating a hesitation to explore fully the strategic opportunities available from digital revolutions advancing from block chain, the Internet of things, ‘big data,’ etc. As board members, we must ensure management and board agendas include a balance that respects the threat but proactively identifies and invests in digital opportunities on the horizon. This may even mean preemptively seeking to be a sector disruptor rather than being disrupted.”
Irene Chang Britt
CEO, ICB Enterprises LLC
Irene Chang Britt is a former Fortune 500 C-suite executive with 30 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods industry. She has a distinguished track record at companies such as Campbell Soup, Kraft Foods, Nabisco, and Kimberly-Clark, and most recently she was president of Pepperidge Farm. She has led many businesses to transformational success and also held key positions in strategy, including chief strategy officer for Campbell Soup Co. globally.
She serves as an independent director on three public company boards: Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., Tailored Brands Inc., and TerraVia Inc. She formerly served as a director of Sunoco Inc. Her not-for-profit service includes the NACD board of directors, the Catalyst board of advisors, and the board of the American Bakers Association.
She has been honored with many awards for her business and community accomplishments, including Top Women in Grocery, NJ Business Hall of Fame, and Pink Magazine’s Top 15 Innovators. She earned her B.A. degree from the University of Toronto and her M.B.A., with honors, from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.
Boards and Strategic Leadership: “Technical platforms have spawned an incredible environment for business and industry disruption at an unprecedented pace. In this new era, it has never been more important for the board’s role to be oversight and also insight and foresight. The best directors have moved from intelligent, but passive, consumers of management information to proactive seekers of information from multiple sources. Strategy is not a once a year event, and disruption and growth opportunities don’t wait for quarterly board meetings. Our obligation, as leading-edge directors, is to be the extra antennae and well-read sounding board for the CEO.”
Director, Whirlpool Corp., Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., Imperva Inc.
Gerri Elliott is the founder of Broadrooms.com, a website serving executive women who serve or want to serve on corporate boards. In addition to her corporate boards, she is also on the advisory boards of BoardList, a Silicon Valley effort to increase the diversity of technology boards, and the Center for Executive Women at Kellogg School of Management. As executive vice president, chief customer officer for Juniper Networks, she led the 4,000 person Go-to-Market Organization consisting of sales, system engineering, advanced technologies, marketing, services, support, partners, and field operations.
Elliott is as expert in technology companies, given her three-decade history with Juniper, Microsoft and IBM. She was one of the most senior women at Microsoft as corporate vice president (CVP) of the Global Industry Solutions Group, Worldwide Public Sector, and co-president of Microsoft’s North American Enterprise Sales region. At IBM, she held executive positions in North America and Asia Pacific in sales, services, consulting, strategy development, and product management.
Building a Board for the Future: “Over the last few years, discussions in the boardroom have changed dramatically — cyber security, rapid changes in technology, big data, cloud, privacy, the impact of social media and, of course, activism are just a few agenda items. The broad diversity of these topics makes it increasingly important to build boards which not only mirror the markets they serve, but who can also bring different perspectives based upon skills, experiences, cultures, geographies, race, and gender. Just as boards spend considerable time discussing CEO succession plans, a conversation around a board succession plan is equally important to ensure you're building the best board for your company's future.”
Robin Peppe Sterneck
Director, EPR Properties, Alterra Bank
Robin Peppe Sterneck is a high-energy business leader, speaker and corporate director. She is the human capital and compensation chairperson for the EPR Properties board, as well as director for the Alterra Bank of First Business Financial Services and NACD-Heartland boards.
She is president of Sterneck Capital Management, and speaks frequently to academic institutions and corporations. She leverages her 30-year financial services career at Swiss Re, GE and Lehman Brothers, and her passion for teaching through experience-based storytelling, as a platform for educating others on the importance of good governance and developing diverse talent.
As a founding member of Kansas City’s WomenCorporateDirectors and NACD Fellow, Sterneck models continuous learning, data-based decision making, and a belief that people make the numbers. Her inquisitive nature, inclination to push beyond status quo, and blending of financial, risk-focused and human analytics have generated value for stakeholders during times of change, challenge, growth and strategic expansion.
Human Capital a Key Focus: “A war on talent has been ignited by a seismic shift in human analytics as baby boomers exit the workforce and a smaller generation follows. It’s time for board directors to enter the game through aggressive collaboration with company leaders. Developing competencies and confidence in diverse leaders is a proven science. Boards must catalyze management to be accountable for methods to counteract unconscious bias, operationalize meaningful on-the-job training, and for deep succession planning. Human capital strategies are key to fostering shareholder value. It’s critical that directors embrace this responsibility and assure its sustainability through performance-based compensation and HR investment priorities.”
Tara Marling Abraham
Chairman and Co-CEO, Accel Inc.
Tara Marling Abraham is one of the nation’s leading experts in contract manufacturing. A strategist and experienced entrepreneur, she is an innovator. She is active with WBENC, WomenCorporateDirectors, NACD, Young Presidents Organization, Women Presidents Organization, and International Women's Forum. She serves as director of Peoples Bancorp Inc. and Peoples Bank, NA. Her committees include audit & risk; nominating & governance; and trust. Abraham was the first female chair of YPO (Columbus Chapter) and the international chair of the Women's Forum. She represented WBENC in the National Women's Business Council reporting to the United States President, Congress, and SBA.
Her dedication led to investing in new companies: Cinsay, an online video smart store; in biotech with Safe White teeth whitening; in food and beverage with Avitae caffeinated water; and in health and beauty with Scarlett Kitty bath fizzies.
Harmony and Trust: “Creating harmony by aligning the mission of the institution to the mission of the shareholders is a critical role of a director. As a director, I am privileged to work on behalf of the shareholders. They trust me to ensure the information they (and their advisors) receive accurately reflects the business they own; to advise their management team on issues affecting their best interests; and to collaborate with their management team on setting a strategic direction. These basic responsibilities guide me in my own business(es) and my work on not-for-profits, start-up companies, and public company boards.”
Founder and CEO, B.O.A.R.D.S.
Angela Brock-Kyle launched B.O.A.R.D.S., a privately held governance, strategy and risk advisory firm, in 2013. In addition, she chairs the audit committee and serves on the nominating and governance committee of Infinity Property and Casualty Corp. She is an independent trustee of the Guggenheim/Rydex Funds, the YMCA Retirement Fund board, and sits on the board of the Executive Women’s Golf Association Foundation.
For 25 years she was a senior leader at TIAA, where she managed a $9 billion global portfolio, launched the $400 billion end-to-end asset management business, and deployed risk management culture and systems across the enterprise. She assumed responsibility for cross-functional teams engaging with the Federal Reserve Board and other regulators. She was recognized by the National Association of Corporate Directors as one of its 100 influential directors in 2015. She received her J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Integrity is the Bedrock: “The best governance practices have integrity at their core. Leadership through integrity should permeate every aspect of board activity, with itself, management, owners and other stakeholders, to drive long-term value creation. Integrity manifests in transparent communication with multiple stakeholders, including establishing a culture where employees are encouraged to share both their best ideas and concerns about questionable activities. The board must spend appropriate time setting goals for itself and evaluating its effectiveness in addition to overseeing the firm’s succession planning, strategy and risk management. These integrity-based governance practices, among others, strengthen the board’s ability to enhance long-term value.”
Director, Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company
Sheila Hooda is an independent board director, C-suite advisor and former C-level operating executive with more than 30 years of experience. She has provided strategic direction, driven growth, and transformed leading companies across global financial services; information and professional services; financial technology; education; and consumer sectors. Her experience includes Asia/India; finance, M&A, capital markets; long-term strategy development; transformation from B2B to B2B2C; P&L management; sales, marketing and data analytics; customer centricity; institutional investors; digital technology and disruptive innovation.
Hooda serves on the board of directors of Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co. and is a member of the investment committee. She is also on the advisory council of Genpact, a digitally powered business process and technology leader. She is the CEO of Alpha Advisory Partners, providing growth strategy, M&A, customer centricity and transformation advisory services. A former McKinsey consultant, she has held successive senior leadership positions at TIAA, Credit Suisse, and Thomson Reuters.
Forward-Looking Boards Are Critical: “Very rapidly evolving economic, political, demographic and technological trends are changing customer needs and reshaping how businesses operate. More specifically, digitization and workplace automation, including the rise of artificial intelligence and advanced robotics, is radically altering business models. This makes it necessary that boards work with the C-suite and CEO to create appropriate business scenarios to dynamically test and reset their strategies. Boards need to focus much further ahead to ensure their companies are well prepared for disruption so as to successfully convert these changes and challenges into strengths and opportunities.”
Jean M. Birch
Director, Darden Restaurants Inc., Papa Murphy’s Holdings Inc., Cosi Inc.
Jean Birch is a retired C-level operating executive, an experienced corporate board member and an NACD Board Leadership Fellow. She is a dynamic consumer brand leader who has dedicated her career to driving transformational performance across employee intensive operations.
Birch serves on the boards of Darden Restaurants, Papa Murphy’s Holdings, and Cosi Inc. She is an experienced audit, compensation, nom/gov and finance committee member and has chaired both compensation and nominating and governance committees. She holds a B.A. in economics and oriental studies from the University of Arizona and an M.B.A. from Southern Methodist University. She recently served as a Blue Ribbon Commissioner for NACD.
Birch spent her career in the consumer sector with an emphasis in food service. She has been the president of IHOP Restaurants Inc., Romano’s Macaroni Grill and Corner Bakery Café. In addition, she had significant operating roles at Yum Brands in both the Pizza Hut and Taco Bell divisions.
Boards As Strategic Assets: “The role of a board member is evolving from primarily oversight and risk management to one of strategic engagement. Successful organizations need every board member to be a strategic asset. That means board members who engage actively, bring relevant skill sets, knowledge and wisdom and ask the tough questions that will drive the business forward today and tomorrow. This should also mean board members who willingly step down when their strategic value is no longer relevant to the company. There is a right time, right skills, and right fit for board service.”
Sandra Beach Lin
Director, American Electric Power Co., WESCO International Inc., PolyOne Corp., Interface Biologics Inc.
Sandra Beach Lin is leveraging 30 years of C-suite and global company operating credentials, a history of business achievement, and a commitment to technology and innovation as an independent board member. She is a member of the board of American Electric Power, WESCO International, PolyOne Corp. and Interface Biologics. She devoted her career to the growth and use of specialty materials. She is the retired president and CEO of Calisolar Inc. (now Silicor Materials). She previously served as corporate executive vice president of Celanese Corp., where she led a group of specialty materials businesses. Prior to Celanese, Beach Lin held senior executive positions at Avery Dennison Corp., Alcoa, and Honeywell International.
In 2013 she was named to the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Directorship 100. She is an NACD Board Leadership Fellow, a board member of Junior Achievement USA, and a member of the Committee of 200.
Boards Need Continuous Improvement: “The velocity of change present in every industry today demands that management and boards continue to develop and evolve. Rapid change requires board members to invest in their own education on current developments in their industries and, more importantly, to include time spent on where things are going. With disruption all around us, directors along with management need to be looking around corners for change. Continuous improvement also includes enhancing corporate governance skills. The board evaluation process is evolving for the better, setting high standards for open, useful discussions on how we, as board members, can grow and improve individually and as a board.”
Carol P. Sanders
Director, Alliant Energy Corp., RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd.
Carol Sanders has served on the Alliant Energy board for over 10 years. She chairs the compensation and personnel committee and is a member of the executive and nominating and governance committees. She previously served as chair of the audit committee for six years. Sanders also serves on the board of RenaissanceRe, a global reinsurance and insurance company, and is a member of the audit committee.
Sanders enjoyed a successful 25-year corporate financial career, primarily in the insurance industry, serving in EVP, CFO, COO and treasurer roles. Most recently, she served as EVP, CFO and treasurer for Sentry Insurance. She sits on the Chancellor’s Advisory Board for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Her professional certifications include CPA, CPCU, CMA, and CFM, and she has been designated as an SEC audit committee financial expert in her work with public company audit committees.
Higher Expectations for Exec Comp Expertise: “Every year brings higher expectations for directors as we address the increasingly visible and public nature of executive compensation practices. To be effective, we must stay abreast of emerging trends in executive compensation, ever-changing regulatory and legal requirements, and increasingly influential proxy advisor policies. Finding the right balance of experience and expertise of independent directors to serve on the compensation committee is key. An effective and well-informed committee will be able to manage the dynamic tension between motivating and rewarding executives appropriately while ensuring that the reward system evolves with today’s changing governance landscape.”
Mary Beth Vitale
Director, CoBiz Financial Inc.
Mary Beth Vitale is a sitting public company director and former CEO. She was CEO/chair of Westwind Media, president/COO of Rocky Mountain Internet, and president/corporate officer for AT&T. Most recently, she served on the board of Zynex Inc., a publically traded medical device company, as audit committee member and compensation chair. She serves on the board of CoBiz Financial Inc., a $3.6 billion financial holding company. She was the SEC expert and audit committee chair for five years, and currently is the cyber expert and nominating and governance committee chair.
She was a commissioner for Colorado Governor Bill Owens’ Commission on Science and Technology for nine years. She is an NACD Leadership Fellow, and served as president and chair for NACD’s Colorado Chapter. Vitale launched the WomenCorporateDirectors Colorado Chapter. She is an author and frequent speaker on cyber and board governance topics around the world.
Board Composition a Key to Value Creation: “As a director, a key responsibility is approval of the strategic plan to ensure value creation for the shareholders. A critical aspect of having the “right” strategy is having the appropriate board composition to provide advice. With the advent of disruptive technologies, do you have the skills and industry background on your board that has the foresight to understand what could disrupt your business? If M&A is your growth strategy, do you have the expertise to ask the difficult questions when deals are presented? As cybersecurity risk rises, do you have the talent to help mitigate the risk? The expertise needed on a board will evolve as the strategic plan adjusts to the competitive environment.”
Co-Founder and Chair, 2020 Women on Boards
Stephanie Sonnabend is a change agent who is passionate about making the world a better place. She is a director, speaker, executive coach and consultant, with a special focus on family businesses and succession planning for boards, CEOs, senior executives and organizations.
As CEO and president of Sonesta International Hotels Corp., Sonnabend led a publicly held global hospitality company through numerous business cycles. She built a strong corporate culture applauded by the industry and spearheaded significant growth, both internationally and domestically. In 2010, she co-founded 2020 Women on Boards, a national campaign to increase the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to 20% or greater by 2020. She currenty serves on the board of SVN, a commercial real estate franchisor. Previous board experience includes Sonesta Hotels and Century Bank.
Succession and Diversity: “In this age of major focus on regulatory and compliance issues, two topics tend to be sidelined in the boardroom — succession planning and diversity. A well-articulated succession plan would encompass four elements: the board, the CEO, senior executives, and rising stars. A succession plan would also help address diversity. Studies consistently show that gender diverse boards outperform all-male boards. Women and minority leaders provide diversity of thought and send an important message to all stakeholders. A diverse board and executive team along with a robust succession plan will contribute to a company’s success for years to come.”
Sheila G. Talton
President and Chief Executive Officer, Gray Matter Analytics
Sheila Talton is an innovative global leader and Big Data strategist experienced in governance in corporate, civic and not-for-profit arenas. She serves on the boards of Deere & Co., Wintrust Financial Corp., OGE Energy Corp., Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital Foundation, The Chicago Network, Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Chicago Urban League. She served for 10 years on the board of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and for five years on the board of Acco Brand Corp. She was a founding member and chairperson of the Information Technology Senior Management Forum and continues to serve on its advisory board.
Talton began her career by identifying technology as the key area of future business growth, working at several information technology companies before forming Unisource Network Services in 1987. She is CEO and president of Gray Matter Analytics, a consultancy she formed in 2013 to offer data analytics and predictive modeling services and solutions to organizations in the financial services and healthcare industries.
Technology Executives on Boards: “There is not an industry that technology has not disrupted. A company’s technology infrastructure is critical to its operations and it is important for companies to think about what types of ‘technology disrupters’ are out there that could possibly transform their business. Boards are not putting technology executives on their boards as quickly as they should. Most boards relegate technology oversight to the audit committee, but rarely are there people on the audit committees that have a technology background. Ask yourself: Who on the board understands how an app on a mobile device like Uber can affect the sale of automobiles?”
Karen M. Bohn
Director, Ameriprise Certificate Co., Alerus Financial Corp., Otter Tail Corp.
As president of Galeo Group, Karen Bohn provides strategic management counsel for CEOs, management teams and corporate boards on governance, strategy and implementation as well as interim executive services. Clients include public and private firms from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Prior to establishing her consulting practice, she spent 22 years as an investment banker and corporate executive at Piper Jaffray Companies, serving as CAO and a member of the board of directors as well as CEO of Piper Trust Co.
A distinguished governance counselor, Bohn chairs the Ameriprise Certificate Co. board and is a director for Alerus Financial and Otter Tail Corp. Prior board service includes financial and retail organizations, including Piper Jaffray, Gander Mountain, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, and Universal Hospital. Throughout her career, she has steered companies through game-changing business decisions, spanning critical investments, M&A, private versus public holding, leveraged buyouts, succession planning, and more.
Accountability and Talent: “As with executive management, boards must invest in and be accountable for their own performance. Learning from rigorous self-assessment at both the group (board and committee) as well as individual level, directors must demonstrate commitment to professional development by keeping abreast of market, technology and competitive forces, financial/regulatory challenges, and risk management practices, to deliver a solid ROG (return on governance). As companies grow and evolve over time, the boards’ needs also change. Board leadership and directors need the courage to address board composition, getting the right talent at the right time to ensure the success of the organization.”
Director, Alliant Energy Corp., United Rentals Inc.
Singleton McAllister is an attorney with Husch Blackwell and has been a leader in regulatory and public policy law for over 25 years, serving with the U.S. House of Representatives, including senior counsel to the House Budget Committee. She was appointed general counsel to the United States Agency for International Development.
McAllister’s experience with publicly traded companies include legal, legislative, regulatory, public affairs, human resources, customer perspectives, environmental and diversity matters. She is a director of Alliant Energy and United Rentals, where she has served as chair of the compensation and personal committee. She is on the board of Securitas Critical Infrastructure Services Inc. and is a member of the NACD Compensation Advisory Council. She has served on a number of civic and charitable boards, including Port Discovery Children’s Museum, the University of Maryland Visitors Boards, and as Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia State Board of Elections. She also is a past chair of the National Women Business Center.
Lawyers Can Be Valuable: “Trends show that there is an increase in the number of lawyers on boards. The Cornell Lawyer-Director Study suggests that the percentage of large U.S. public corporation boards with lawyer-directors rose from 24.5% to 43.9% between 2000 and 2009. Companies that have compliance and regulatory issues should consider lawyers for their boards. Lawyers who understand Dodd-Frank and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act are helpful. Lawyers bring judgment that comes from experience and training as well as an understanding for legal and regulatory risk. Lawyers have been trained to build consensus using their analytical skills, knowledge of regulations, and risk-management experience.”
Suzanne Paquin Nimocks
Director, Encana Corp., Rowan Companies PLC, ArcelorMittal, Owens Corning
Suzanne Paquin Nimocks is a director for Encana, a natural gas exploration and production company based in Calgary, Canada; London-domiciled drilling contractor Rowan Companies; ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel company, based in Luxembourg; and Owens Corning, a Fortune 500 building products company based in Toledo, Ohio. She chairs the compensation committee for the Encana board, the health environment and safety committee for the Rowan board, and the finance committee for the Owens Corning board. She also serves as a faculty member for McKinsey & Company Partner Learning.
She retired in July 2010 as a senior partner in McKinsey’s Houston office. In addition to client work in a broad range of industries and functional areas, she was a leader in the firm’s Global Petroleum Practice, Electric Power & Natural Gas Practice, as well as the Global Organization Practice. She served on the firm’s worldwide personnel committees and as the Houston office manager. She chairs the board of the Houston Zoo and is a trustee for Texas Children’s Hospital. She co-chairs the Houston Chapter of WomenCorporateDirectors.
Bringing Perspective and Context to the Boardroom: “Shareholders expect management teams and boards to create winning business strategies. At the core of strategy is selecting in which businesses, segments, and geographies to compete as well as how to play in each of those arenas. Boards that bring wisdom, judgment, discipline, deep industry knowledge, and global experience provide enormous value to management teams as they debate strategic alternatives, shape strategy, and periodically reassess positioning.”
Laurie Ann Goldman
Director, ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc., Francesca’s Holdings Corp.
A leading global chief executive, board director, investor, and advisor, Laurie Ann Goldman has over three decades of management and operating experience in building consumer and fashion businesses.
She is on the boards of ServiceMaster and Francesca’s Holdings and advisory boards for SunTrust Bank Atlanta, Enviroscent, and Insightpool. Named CEO of Spanx Inc. at age 39, in 12 years she grew the company from a startup with a few innovative products into an international brand with thousands of products across multiple product lines. In that time, Spanx made the transition from brand name to household name. Prior to SPANX, Goldman had progressively responsible marketing and operational roles at the Coca-Cola Co. and R.H. Macy. Her leadership resulted in numerous honors, including AJC National Human Relations and Leadership Award, JWI's Top Ten Women to Watch, and Ad Age Top 50 Marketing Executives.
Listen, Learn, and Ask: “If good governance was a matter of setting and conforming to rules, it would be a straightforward job. But as anyone who has taken on the responsibility of board membership knows, it is infinitely more nuanced than compliance. It is fluid, personal, and demands the ability to listen in ways that do not always come naturally to the kinds of Type-A people who reach a point in their careers where their guidance has value. The key to providing the best advice is the ability to listen, learn and ask the right questions. ■