Issue: 
2017 Annual Report
Directors to Watch 2017

Governance insights and ideas from top women directors

By Scott Chase

The year just past has seen some movement toward increased board diversity, perhaps more than some would expect and a lot less than advocates for a better gender mix would applaud. Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz partner David A. Katz and consulting attorney Laura A. McIntosh, in a paper dated January 25, notes that “momentum toward gender parity is building, particularly in the top tier of public corporations.” The authors “recommend that boards include this issue as part of an annual discussion on director succession, similar to the annual discussion regarding CEO succession.”

Likewise, in June, the latest Equilar Gender Diversity Index — a quarterly update of female directors in the Russell 3000 — found that approximately 24.3% of new director appointees in the first quarter of this year were women. 

Although it seems so long ago, last summer a group of corporate leaders published its “Commonsense Principles of Corporate Governance,” a document that — among other things — highlights diversity on boards and correlates that diversity with improved performance. In a widely published accompanying letter, the signatories stated emphatically that: “diverse boards make better decisions.”

At Directors & Boards we occasionally can divine a new concern among women directors through a careful reading of the governance “passion statements” that we ask of our Directors to Watch each year. Cybersecurity, of course, continues to loom large in the worldview of these accomplished executives, but in 2017 that other potential villain (or ally, depending on the circumstances) of the digital age, social media, has taken a seat front and center in their concerns.  The speed and the ubiquity of corporate missteps or comments that “go viral” continue to catch CEOs and their crisis communications teams flatfooted. When management is caught in a bind, inevitably the question, “Where was the board?” makes its appearance. 

That’s where diversity comes in: A recent study co-authored by the WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation found that female directors generally are more concerned about risks, and are more willing to address them, than are their male colleagues.

Katz and McIntosh conclude their update by suggesting that 2017 “is likely to be a year in which progress toward greater board diversity significantly accelerates. Indeed, it is becoming clear that gender diversity — if not gender parity — one day will be a standard aspect of board composition.

While the process of realizing that future should not be artificially or counterproductively hastened, it should be welcomed as a state of affairs that will be beneficial to all corporate constituents and, beyond, to the greater good of U.S. business and American culture.”

Slow and steady wins the race. It just takes time.

Mary A. Winston

Director, Dover Corporation, Domtar Corporation, Supervalu Inc., Acuity Brands

Mary Winston is an experienced financial executive, strategic leader and corporate board member. She served as chief financial officer at Family Dollar Inc., Giant Eagle Inc., and Scholastic Inc. She holds an MBA in Finance, Marketing and International Business from Northwestern’s Kellogg graduate school.

Winston leverages her C-suite experience, corporate governance knowledge and financial expertise on the boards of Dover Corporation, where she chairs the audit committee, Domtar Corporation, Supervalu Inc. and Acuity Brands. She is a member of the board and President of the NACD, Carolinas Chapter, and is an NACD Board Leadership Fellow.  Winston was named one of the “Most Influential Black Corporate Directors” (Savoy magazine, 2016), “Top Fortune 500 Women CFOs” (Fortune, 2015) and “Most Powerful Women in Business” (Black Enterprise magazine, 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2015).

Directors must bring both a long-term strategic perspective and a focus on near-term priorities: One of the most important roles for a board is to guide a company’s strategic direction. In order to enhance and preserve shareholder value, directors must focus on long-term strategy, giving consideration to market influences, overall business risks and potential disruptors. Strong directors are always thinking ahead, anticipating the unexpected and challenging management to think BIG! It requires the courage to ask tough questions and challenge conventional thinking. Still, it is also important for directors to understand near-term business priorities, current results and things that impact shorter-term performance. It’s a delicate balancing act but one that the strongest directors perform masterfully.”

Jocelyn Carter-Miller

Director, InterPublic Group, Netgear, Principal Financial Group

Jocelyn Carter-Miller is president of TechEdVentures and SoulTranSync, which specialize in the development and marketing of high performance educational and empowerment programming.

Formerly, Carter-Miller was EVP and chief marketing officer for Office Depot; Motorola corporate vice president and CMO; VP-Latin American and Caribbean Operations, and Director-European, Middle East and African Operations for the Motorola International Networks Division; and VP-Marketing and Product Development for Mattel. Jocelyn co-authored Networking: Building Relationships and Opportunities for Success.

Carter-Miller, a CPA and University of Chicago MBA, serves on Principal Financial Group (finance committee chair, nominating and governance committee), InterPublic Group (nominating and governance chair, audit), and Netgear (audit, compensation) boards. She is a 2013 NACD 100 Honoree and 2016 Savoy “Most Influential Black Corporate Directors.”

Doing the right things: “As stewards for corporate constituencies, including shareholders, investors, customers, partners and communities, directors must ensure that the highest standards of corporate governance and integrity are met. This means developing a ‘strategic asset board,’ and policies and practices that best serve the needs of our constituencies. It means ensuring a diverse board reflecting different races, cultures, genders, skills, perspectives and experiences that enable the company to better understand its markets and to successfully achieve its goals. It means setting a tone for doing the right things, even when the choices are difficult. It means ‘doing well and good’ at the same time.”

Mary Chris Gay

Director, MGM Resorts International, Inc.

Mary Chris Gay is a director for MGM Resorts International, one of the world’s leading global hospitality companies. She serves on the board’s audit committee and compensation committee and she qualifies as an Audit Committee Financial Expert.

Gay enjoyed a successful 25-year career in financial services serving as senior vice president and portfolio manager at Legg Mason, Inc. During her tenure, she managed funds registered in Australia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the UK. In addition to her work as a public company board member, Gay is a consultant working with startup companies seeking early stage investors and guidance on financial strategy. She is also a member of WomenCorporateDirectors and NACD.

What the investment business taught me: “Public company directors are ultimately accountable to capital providers. Good governance comes from a deep understanding of what public companies can do, who controls the capital allocation decisions, and a clear assessment of the risks and returns that result from those decisions. Just as investment managers allocate capital to generate the best risk-adjusted returns for their shareholders, the managements of public companies also strive to generate returns above their cost of capital and build long-term value for their shareholders. In a world of increasing short-termism and fast mobility of capital, good governance has never been more important.”

Maryann Bruce

Director, MBIA Inc., Independent Trustee, PNC Funds

Maryann Bruce is an independent director, C-suite advisor and former senior operating executive for two Fortune 100 firms. An expert in the financial services industry, Maryann has more than 30 years of experience as a dynamic leader who created and executed market-leading strategic plans, developed high-performing teams, and implemented multi-channel sales and marketing programs supporting global brands through start-up, dramatic growth, turnaround, and transformation.

Maryann serves on the compensation & governance and audit committees of the board of MBIA Inc. and is an independent trustee for PNC Funds. She is also an executive committee board member and nominating committee chair of NACD’s Carolinas Chapter and treasurer and investment committee chair for the C200 Foundation Board. Formerly she was compensation chair of Atlanta Life Financial Group and an Allianz Funds Trustee.

Talent management is a critical full board role: “The responsibility for talent management does not just lie with the nominating committee. Visionary boards think beyond CEO-succession planning to ensure the right people are in all key positions. It’s important for boards to receive regular CEO debriefs on the identification and readiness of potential successors for C-suite executives, senior leaders and other high-performers. To uncover talented individuals at different levels, a best practice is for the full board to get to know as many of the senior leaders as possible in formal and informal gatherings. Interacting with senior management and their direct reports during board presentations and committee meetings and getting to know them over more casual settings will help board members gain a better perspective of the firm’s bench strength and talent pipeline. High-functioning boards proactively oversee leadership development to better ensure retention of key players and effective succession planning.”

Roberta Bowman

Director, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Echo Health Ventures, LPGA

Roberta Bowman retired as Duke Energy’s senior vice president and chief sustainability officer in 2012. In that role, she drove the development and execution of integrated response to environmental, economic and social issues such as climate change. Over her 25-year career at Duke Energy, she served in executive roles in corporate communications, government affairs, public policy, and environment, health and safety, where she built a reputation for driving industry leadership and change through times of ambiguity, disruption and crisis.

Bowman has been a board member of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina since 2005. She chairs the personnel & compensation committee and serves on the executive committee. She was named a director of Echo Health Ventures in 2016. She also currently serves as chairman of the board of the Ladies Professional Golf Association.

Culture trumps strategy: “Most boards invest significant time in the development and monitoring of corporate strategy. I think an area of increased focus for high-performing boards is recognizing the importance of corporate culture in a whole host of risks and opportunities. In this age of viral media, corporate reputations are damaged or enriched by the actions of their employees — particularly those at the front lines. Excellent boards regularly assess the health of their corporate culture. And, as helpful as surveys and other assessment tools are in monitoring culture, there’s no substitute for direct contact with employees and experiencing your company as your customers do.”

Sheri H. Edison

Director, AK Steel

Sheri Edison is senior vice president, chief legal officer and secretary of Bemis Company, Inc., a supplier of flexible packaging worldwide, focused on corporate governance, global risk management, compliance and legal operations. Edison came to Bemis Company from Hill-Rom, Inc., where she had been senior vice president and chief administrative officer since 2007. Prior to 2007, Edison held senior management and general counsel positions at Hill-Rom, Inc., Hillenbrand Industries and LTV Steel and was an attorney at Jones Day LLP.

Edison currently serves on the boards of AK Steel (NYSE: AKS), the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and the Fox Valley Community Foundation. She is a member and Fellow of the NACD and an alumna of the Direct-Women Board Institute.

Board composition and diversity of experience: "Among the professional profiles benefitting from the expanded view of diversity on boards is that of the lawyer-director. The regulatory-oriented business environment in which companies operate today make the combination of the business and legal and analytical skills of the lawyer-director very valuable assets to any board. Lawyer-directors often play a vital role in risk analysis, an increasingly important and expanding area of board responsibility. Moreover, the lawyer-director is often quite skilled at asking the right questions, unpacking complex business issues and problem solving. As boards continue to take a hard look at board talent and capabilities, the skills and abilities of the lawyer director will increasingly be sought."

Phyllis J. Campbell

Director, Alaska Air Group

Phyllis Campbell is chairman, Pacific Northwest, for JPMorgan Chase & Co. She is the firm’s top executive in Washington, Oregon and Idaho representing JPMC at the most senior level to clients.

Campbell is an independent director for Alaska Air Group, a NYSE listed company. She served on Nordstrom’s board of directors and chaired the Audit Committee for seven years. She serves on the Diversity Advisory Board of Toyota. She is on the nonprofit boards of PATH, the US-Japan Council, and the global advisory board of WomenCorporateDirectors and is a member of the NACD Governance National Advisory Council. She is a frequently requested speaker on governance, audit and risk-related topics and has spoken at a number of global conferences.

Tone at the middle also important: “It is the board’s role to monitor and model its own culture and ensure that it is consistent with that of the organization it governs. A strong culture, when carefully nurtured, has proven to be a sustainable competitive advantage over time. It is the board’s role to pay attention to the factors that make up the culture and to work with management to ensure that the tone at the top and the middle of the organization is consistent.”

Kapila Anand

Director, Extended Stay America Inc., ESH Hospitality Inc.

Kapila Anand serves as the chair of the nominating and governance committee of the board of Extended Stay America, Inc., and the audit committee chair of ESH Hospitality Inc. She also serves as the lead director of the WomenCorporateDirectors Education & Development Foundation, a trustee of Rush University Medical Center and U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

She has served on the board of KPMG LLP, as well as the chair of the KPMG Foundation. Anand recently retired from KPMG where she served as KPMG’s leader for Travel, Leisure & Hospitality. She also served as Partner in charge of KPMG’s Public Policy

Business Initiatives. She is a frequent speaker at industry/governance forums and was awarded the “Women to Watch” award by the Illinois CPA Society. She was also honored as an “Inspirational Leader” by ASCEND, the largest Pan Asian organization and profiled as a “Voice of Experience” by the Glass Hammer focused on women executives.

Align culture with leadership and reward strategies: “In today’s volatile business climate — subject to geopolitics, technology and other disruptive forces — it is the board’s role to make sure that the company’s values, strategy, talent management and incentives remain in alignment and support a culture of innovation. As boards refocus their agendas on these important topics, it is also a good time to reevaluate board composition and the representation of necessary functional skills sets and diverse perspectives in the boardroom. A recent WomenCorporateDirectors whitepaper addresses ‘Developing a culture of leadership,’ calling out the board’s role in improving leadership strategies while recognizing that there is work to be done by many boards to meet their fiduciary obligations. Unfortunately, the headlines support the reality that for some boards the refocus on culture and leadership strategy follows crisis.”

Margaret Whelan

Director, TopBuild

Margaret Whelan has been CEO of Whelan Advisory, LLC since 2014. In this role she provides strategic and financial counsel to leaders of both public and private companies in the U.S. and globally. Whelan is a 23-year veteran of Wall Street and has had success in several pivotal roles, including being recognized as an All American Research Analyst, and serving as a senior coverage partner and Managing Director in JPMorgan’s investment banking group.

Whelan is recognized as a financial expert by the SEC and she currently serves on the boards of two companies: TopBuild (NYSE: BLD) and privately held John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Whelan leverages her commitment to board excellence by working with Trewstar to recruit exceptional female candidates for director openings.

Uncertain times call for board refreshment: “Board structure and refreshment have never been more important. With uncertainly at all-time highs, boards need to leverage diverse perspectives to effectively see around the corner and protect the interests of all stakeholders.”

Cathey Lowe

Director, The New Home Company

Cathey Lowe has served as the audit committee chair on the board of The New Home Company, a publicly traded homebuilder, for three years. She has over 30 years’ finance experience as a senior executive in the construction and oil and gas industries, including seven years as the investor relations officer for Ryland.

Her experience in working with investors and creditors gives her an insight into their perspectives and concerns. Lowe’s experience in the oil and gas industry provided global opportunities to understand what it’s like to do business in other cultures and to operate in an industry with many challenges, including severe pricing swings, government regulations and highly technical operations.

Bridging the Gender Gap: “One of the barriers to diversity in the boardroom is that board members naturally tend to select other board members similar to themselves. How to find common ground? When women gain management experience in a male-dominated industry, such as construction or oil and gas, they can leverage that background to build synergy with board members in those industries. By focusing on gender-neutral skills, such as financial expertise, women can communicate through shared objectives and goals. Women need to find ways to bridge the gender gap in order to contribute at the board level.”

Penny Herscher

Director, Rambus Inc., Lumentum Holdings Inc., Verint Systems Inc.

Penny Herscher is an experienced Silicon Valley technology CEO, executive, entrepreneur and public company board director. She sits on three public company boards, Rambus Inc., Lumentum Holdings Inc., and Verint Systems Inc., chairs compensation and strategy committees and coaches entrepreneurs as much as she can. She took her first company, Simplex, public in 2001 and sold it to Cadence (CDNS) in 2002 where she served as CMO and GM.

She is chairman at Savonix, a digital health startup, and from 2005 to 2015 was CEO of FirstRain, a SaaS analytics company. Herscher was one of the early executives at Synopsys, helping it grow from zero to over $400M in revenue. She has a BA Hons, MA in Mathematics from Cambridge and wrote software for the first four years of her career.

Creating alignment between management and shareholders: “Compensation is the area where a board can have the most impact on creating alignment between the CEO, leadership and shareholders. It drives behaviors, good and bad, can motivate or demotivate, and can create significant shareholder value if done well. When compensation design is combined with strategy, I find the work challenging and fascinating, and a way I can help the CEO achieve his or her vision.”

Dolores A. Kunda

Director, Lenox Group Inc., Finish Line Inc.

Dolores is a corporate board director with experience from Lenox Group, Inc. (formerly NYSE: LNX), and Finish Line, Inc. (NASDAQ: FINL). Dolores’s board committee work spans audit, compensation, and nominating/governance committees. In addition to committee assignments, Kunda has a passion for surfacing qualified minorities and women in their quest for a seat at the boardroom table. Kunda is a Hispanic marketing expert. She founded Lápiz Advertising in 1999 while president of Leo Burnett Puerto Rico. Kunda retired from the advertising industry in 2013.

In 2015, Kunda became the first executive director of the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA, 2015/2016). She is on the board of directors of the LCDA. Kunda is a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Smith College.

Diversity is about the science of teams: “Diverse boards make better decisions leading to increased shareholder value. Diversity is not about social justice, but about the science of teams. More and more, quantitative data proves that ethnic and gender diversity leads to more rigorous debate and thus, better, more carefully considered decisions. Additionally, as the American population becomes more diverse, it is a business imperative to have the consumer experience at the board table in directors who bring a wealth of senior level business experience and the added understanding of population groups that may be a company’s strongest customer base.”

Cynthia R. Plouché

Independent Trustee, AXA Premier VIP Trust

Cynthia Plouché is an experienced board trustee for more than 15 years and with 25 years of experience as a senior investment portfolio manager. She has a BA from Harvard University and a Wharton MBA.

Plouché started her board career in 2001 with AXA Premier VIP Trust. Currently, she is the lead independent trustee and past audit committee chair, overseeing portfolio assets that exceed $20 billion. Recently, Funds were consolidated into a larger fund group. In 2014 she was selected to be an independent trustee for the Northern Institutional Funds/Northern Funds, a $140 billion complex. She is the governance committee chair. Plouché’s community leadership is extensive, showing her commitment to using her financial acumen and management strengths to improve the community.

Balancing the dual obligations of director service: “Throughout our tenure, directors work with management while simultaneously working for shareholders. Balancing these dual obligations and how they constitute board oversight is a key governance challenge. At a minimum we are group of leaders, including management, who are accomplished in our own right bringing expertise to bear but each with a different perspective. Bringing board, management, and shareholder perspectives into alignment from the proverbial 35,000-foot view is an act of dynamic problem solving. The challenges become most noticeable at strategic junctures where the risk tolerance and measurement of reward varies for each party.”

Linda C. Coughlin

Director, The China Fund Inc.

An experienced board member and chair of public and private boards, Lin Coughlin is a former global operating executive and general manager with an extensive track record at envisioning and leading the implementation of disruptive strategies in the electronic payments, banking, asset management, travel, hospitality, vehicle rental, real estate services, healthcare and healthcare technology industries.

She serves on the audit committee of the board of The China Fund, Inc. (NYSE:CHN). She was formerly chief administrative officer and member of the executive committee of Cendant Corporation, president and vice chair of Linkage, Inc.; a managing director and member of the board of Scudder Stevens and Clark, and president of the Americas Mutual Funds Group. She also chaired the boards of Scudder’s three large mutual funds organizations overseeing more than $220 billion in assets under management.

Courageous course corrections in times of disruptive change: “The need for ‘change at core,’ prompted by seismic shifts such as game-changing technology enablers, industry consolidation or disruptive competitive entrants, is the most challenging to plan for and execute — always accompanied by strain on human capital and operating norms, and the consequent risk of destabilization and loss of business momentum. A critically important quality of board leadership is courageous course correction of corporate strategy in times of disruptive change, calling for high levels of agility, and often the willingness and ability to masterfully coach and mentor operating leaders without crossing the line beyond which fiduciary responsibility does not extend.”

Tanuja Dehne

Director, Advanced Disposal Services

Tanuja Dehne is a public company director and former C-level executive who brings perspective and experience from her cross-discipline roles to the C-suite and the boardroom.

She is on the board of Advanced Disposal Services (NYSE: ADSW) and served on the board of Silver Bay Realty Trust Corporation (NYSE: SBY) from 2012-2017. She was also the former chief administrative officer, chief of staff and corporate secretary of NRG Energy, Inc., a Fortune 250 power company.

Dehne is an award-winning corporate attorney, human resources professional and an active member of her community, serving on four nonprofit boards including the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. She is a senior advisor to an NGO, The B Team, focusing on the critical role of corporate governance and climate action. She recently authored an article on board culture and composition in The Legal Intelligencer, “Creating Long-Term Value by Changing the Supply and Demand.”

Board culture and composition go hand in hand: “A board that fosters a culture that is candid about its composition and open to welcoming new members will be better equipped to take advantage of business opportunities. Collegiality, consensus building and knowledge retention are important qualities of effective board culture, but can also stifle tough decisions about a board’s composition. To balance expertise with long-term business needs, boardroom ecosystems must continuously review the existing talent and business context, and anticipate what is next. Board evaluations, succession planning and tenure limiting mechanisms allow boards to refresh their composition in a thoughtful and strategic manner that creates demand for a broad array of experiences and perspectives.”

Ellen Taaffe

Director, John B. Sanfilippo & Son Inc., Hooker Furniture Corporation

Ellen Taaffe was a senior brand management executive at a Fortune 50 company, as well as company president of an award-winning consulting and research firm. Her corporate career included marketing, operating, and strategy roles at PepsiCo, Royal Caribbean and Whirlpool Corporation.

Currently, Taaffe is an independent board director and member of the Aaudit, compensation, and nominating/governance committees for both John B. Sanfilippo & Son Inc. and Hooker Furniture Corporation, where she chairs the nominating/governance committee. She is on the faculty at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University, where she oversees women’s leadership programming. She is also an executive coach. Taaffe holds a B.S. from the University of Florida, an M.B.A. from Kellogg School of Management, and is an NACD Board Leadership Fellow.

Marketers bring diverse thinking to boards: “While most companies have elevated their top marketing executives into the C-suite, their boards have not followed suit. Seasoned marketers bring strategic acumen and operating experience to board discussions, but their real value is in guiding growth in the face of market changes. Marketing leaders have seen their roles disrupted with the advent of the internet. Their traditional model has been upended, forcing marketers to adapt and strengthen their strategic agility, consumer centricity and trend anticipation. As markets experience disruption and consumer preferences change rapidly, experienced marketers can bring valuable perspective to the boardroom.”

Gina Boswell

Director, Manpower Inc., Wolverine

Gina Boswell leads the business delivery of $10 billion in revenue across all Unilever categories in the United States. Formerly, she led the UK and Ireland business, the fourth-largest market for Unilever. Prior to that, Boswell was responsible for the multi-billion-dollar personal care portfolio for Unilever North America. Boswell joined Unilever in 2011 when it acquired Alberto Culver, where she was president, Global Brands, and overseeing brands, such as TRESemmé, NeXXus, VO5 and St. Ives. In 2004, she was COO of Avon North America, and previously held senior positions at Ford Motor Company and Estee Lauder Companies.

Boswell serves on the boards of Manpower Inc. (NYSE: MAN) and Wolverine (NYSE: WWW). She is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and president of the Yale University Council.

A holistic, end-to-end look at risk: “A board's primary responsibility is protecting the interests of shareholders which puts the company's enterprise risk management (ERM) program in key focus. A modern ERM program requires a holistic, end-to-end look at the risks a business faces. Recent headlines illustrate how far-ranging corporate risk can be. For example, we don’t typically think of customer service and sales practices as hotbeds of corporate risk, but a few well-publicized incidents drive home how damaging a misstep can be, especially when it goes viral. To approach ERM thoughtfully, a director needs to build a keen sense of the company’s operations and industry practices — the entirety of the enterprise — and then ensure management is thinking broadly about the range of potential risks without being too risk averse — which is a risk in and of itself.”

Anita Sands

Director, Symantec Corporation, Service Now, Pure Storage

Anita Sands serves as a director for three public technology companies: Symantec Corporation, Service Now and Pure Storage, and as an advisor to Grand Central Tech, a leading NYC technology incubator.

She is also a member of the digital advisory board at Box, an active angel investor, and a senior advisor at Sands Point Consulting where she works with companies on digital disruption. Sands holds a Ph.D. in Atomic and Molecular Physics from QUB, and a master's in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University where she was a Fulbright Scholar. Previously she was COO of UBS Wealth Management, Americas. She has a diploma in piano, has travelled to all seven continents and was a national public speaking champion.

Act as your own activist: “Boards today have to be equipped to deal with the transformative, disruptive era in which they operate and nowhere is this more evident than in the areas of digital disruption and cyber security. Digital disruptors are not startups, they are upstarts; they do business in a fundamentally different way. Boards need to understand the opportunities and threats this presents, be willing to challenge our own assumptions and, when necessary, to act as our own activist. For this, we need true cognitive diversity in the boardroom, which is not a supply-side problem, and therefore can only be achieved with an alternative, innovative approach to recruiting.”

Caroline Tsay

Director, Rosetta Stone, Morningstar

Caroline Tsay is CEO of Compute Software, an enterprise cloud infrastructure software company. Prior to Compute Software, Tsay was vice president and general manager of Software at Hewlett Packard Enterprise from 2013 to 2016. She previously held product leadership positions at Yahoo! Inc. across its consumer search, e-commerce and advertising businesses. Before Yahoo!, she spent three years at IBM Global Services as a senior consultant.

Tsay is a board member of Morningstar and Rosetta Stone, and formerly served on the board of Travelzoo. She has been recognized as The National Diversity Council’s Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology and Silicon Valley Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Tsay holds an M.S. in Management Science and Engineering and a B.S. in Computer Science, both from Stanford University.

The impact of evolving customer preferences: "As customer preferences and purchase behaviors rapidly evolve, boards must more frequently review and evaluate a company’s long-term strategic plan along with the CEO and management team. A company’s long-term strategic plan includes everything from growth opportunities and product innovation to digital marketing. It is important to ask tough questions routinely about the market, competitors, and customer satisfaction to glean insights and inform a company’s long-term strategy. A good place to start is to conduct an unbiased and unaided market analysis, ideally, through an independent party."

Denise Warren

Director, Electronic Arts

Denise Warren is a dynamic CEO/president/advisor/board member with a three-decade track record growing and operating profitable businesses in the consumer and media sector, and driving transformational digital performance.

She is an independent board member for Electronic Arts and on the board of advisors of the startup Flont, Inc. Warren is the CEO and founder of Netlyst LLC, a consulting practice focused on digital business growth. She is active in Board-Next, an organization for qualified women seeking their first role in public company boardrooms. Warren is an expert in a range of digital matters, e-commerce, marketing, sales, corporate and financial strategy, new product development, and data analytics. Her work creating and overseeing The New York Times digital consumer subscription business launched the subscription economy for the publishing sector.

Value creation through culture: “If ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ as the saying goes, then a healthy corporate culture is the basis for value creation and a deterrent to value destruction. Several recent high profile incidents and the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in shareholder value demonstrate the need for cultures’ rightful place on the board agenda. Boards cannot afford to wait for crises to hit before focusing on culture. Establishing appropriate tone at the top, linking culture to company strategy, selecting the right CEO, aligning incentives, and measuring and monitoring can allow boards to effectively shape culture.”

Directors & Boards’ 11th Annual Directors to Watch highlights accomplished women board members, and is made possible in part by the support of Diversity in the Boardroom, a board diversity consulting firm, and WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation, a global organization dedicated to advancing the careers and contributions of women directors.

In our Fourth Quarter 2017 edition, to be published later this year, we’ll feature Directors to Watch focused on ethnic diversity. If you would like to support “Directors to Watch” or nominate a “Director to Watch” for inclusion in Directors & Boards, please send your candidate’s name, current primary corporate and board positions, contact details for your choice, and a sentence or two on why you believe this person is a “Director to Watch” to Scott Chase at scottchase@verizon.net.


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