My Board Journey: Lisa Greer Quateman

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Lisa Greer Quateman
Director, Western Asset Mortgage Capital Corporation, ITR Concession Company LLC, Scherzer International; advisory board, Lyles Diversified

Directors & Boards: What was the first board you joined?
LGQ: My board journey began many decades ago when, as a law student, I was placed on the board of Central Wholesale Market Company, my family’s real estate business.

Lisa Greer Quateman

DB: What do you look for in a board? 
LGQ: What I seek is what I think all of your readers are seeking: An opportunity to make an impactful contribution to the organization.

DB: How does your professional experience inform your board service? 
LGQ: I have had a dual career. In addition to serving as a longtime manager of the family commercial real estate portfolio, I recently retired as a senior partner of a national law firm, where I also served as the founding Los Angeles managing partner, and on the fiduciary board of the firm’s large profit-sharing plan. My practice areas included mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, finance (including over $100 billion of public debt offerings), real estate, infrastructure and securities disclosure. I also had a heavy dose of experience with regulators and regulated entities. Given that experience, it was a surprising challenge to learn that some boards do not want to include people with legal backgrounds. Aspiring directors with a legal background often must demonstrate that they bring a businesslike perspective to the boardroom, and that, rather than avoiding risk, they understand how best to manage it.

Ultimately, I have found that my experience has prepared me very well for the boardroom. In addition to the professional skills in my toolkit, I have had a lot of experience in business and on nonprofit boards, where I learned about board dynamics and protocols.

DB: What aspect of board service do you get the most reward from?
LGQ: My top goal is always to serve the shareholders and the company’s broader universe of stakeholders, so it’s rewarding to see good results emanating from the work of the board. On a personal level, it’s very rewarding to earn the confidence of the executive team and my fellow directors. Serving on more than one board gives me the ability to bring a wider perspective to each of the companies.

DB: What can boards do to assist their companies in shaping strategies for retaining valued employees?
LGQ: In the current extremely challenging human capital environment, boards can scratch the surface of areas where traditionally they might have relied only on reporting from upper management. This doesn’t mean that they need to start running the business, but it does mean that they can become more visible to rank-and-file employees, and they can include human capital as a more frequent agenda item both at the compensation committee level and with the full board. Directors can share success stories from their experiences with other organizations, especially where they have seen positive results with flexible working arrangements and expansion of diversity and inclusion. Anecdotally, I would observe that boards and companies may benefit from paying greater attention to what Larry Taylor, Ph.D., refers to as the “tone at the bottom,” whether that comes from employee surveys, exit interviews or social media. These resources can yield helpful inputs to decision-makers.

DB: You are an expert in disclosures. What are the major issues public company boards are dealing with in that area?
LGQ: Public companies are paying increased attention to disclosures in three main risk areas: cyber, climate and geopolitical/economic. The first two topics are the subject of currently pending SEC regulations, and all three topics are examples of the need for public companies to have strong, cross-disciplinary disclosure policies and procedures that are regularly tested and future-proofed.

DB: What factors do you think companies have to keep in mind before they decide to take a stance on a political or social issue?
LGQ: The instantaneous news and social media cycles of today require companies to be increasingly thoughtful before wading into politics and social issues, because it is not always possible to turn back or reframe a position. Boards and management need to decide whether it is necessary and in the best interest of the company’s shareholders and stakeholders to comment on a given issue, and, if the answer is “Yes,” then it’s important to craft clear communications and ensure that messaging is consistent across platforms and in SEC disclosures.

DB: How did you make the transition from a law career to a board portfolio?
LGQ: I started early, joining nonprofit boards as soon as I made partner and taking on board assignments on a smaller scale for clients. I was intentional about board education and tried to be in the right places at the right times. Even while I was still practicing law, I underwent board training and actively networked in the board community. This included registering with various databases and joining selected organizations. The result was that each of my corporate board appointments came about in a slightly different way. One was from a former law client. Another was via a recruiter who reached out to a board registry. A third was through a colleague I had met during committee work with the NACD. The most recent, which is a corporate advisory board, came from a recruiter who consulted different registries than the first recruiter. None of this was easy. It took a lot of time and patience. So, it has been a great joy to be considered a good fit by the companies that have appointed me.

To be considered for My Board Journey, contact Bill Hayes at

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