How did you get appointed to your first board?
I was appointed to the board of a large private family office, where I was recruited as president, at the age of 33. A few years later we took a private partnership public and I was appointed as a founding board member. I had served as a director for 14 years when the company was sold.
How does your professional experience inform your board service?
I have spent my career in the commercial real estate development and investment business. As a capital-intensive industry that is highly transactional, I believe this experience has helped think through significant capital allocation issues. Additionally, having worked and served on the boards of highly entrepreneurial companies, family offices, large private companies, and as a board member of public companies, I have been able to observe issues of governance from multiple points of view, and share those views across platforms.
How does your experience as an attorney come into play in the boardroom?
I think my legal experience has assisted me in driving consensus on many issues that involve legal implications, especially as issues relate to risk allocation. In a number of circumstances, I believe I have been able to translate technical legal advice from outside counsel into practical decision matrices for fellow board members.
How has the pandemic crisis affected how your board operates?
All board meetings are now conducted electronically using technology platforms — Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. Interestingly, we have communicated more often as a result of the pandemic, as many unanticipated issues have arisen.
Is there a topic that has bubbled up as crucial during this time that wasn’t on the board’s radar before? What?
One company on whose board I serve has global operations with expat employees all over the world. The board had never considered trying to manage the logistics of moving employees in and out of countries, each of which has their own, often conflicting, immigration regulations as a result of the pandemic, not to mention the disruptions in air travel. These challenges have extended to our supply chain.
Valaris is currently restructuring. How difficult has it been to work on that while so much of the world is still shut down or working at a far lower capacity? Have you had to innovate in order to move forward with that?
Once we all adjusted to communicating electronically and utilizing technology platforms, which took about a week, we have been very productive. As chairman, I spend anywhere from two to six hours a day on calls with the board, committee and board members, management, and advisors. Our team has been very available, and we have adjusted. While not a huge change, the most significant innovation is checking email and text messages constantly. — As told to April Hall
To find out how to be featured in My Board Journey, contact April Hall at April.Hall@directorsandboards.com.