Issue: 
2017 Fourth Quarter
SURVIVAL GUIDE: How Barbara Duganier prepares for board meetings
By By Eve Tahmincioglu

Barbara Duganier: Director MRC Global; Buckeye Partners, LP; National Associations of Corporate Directors

At any one time Barbara Duganier is on several public boards and a few nonprofit boards, so being prepared is critical for her.

“Attention to what happens before the meetings is important but there’s a continuous cycle of things you can do to be better prepared, and looking at board materials is just a part of it,” she stresses.

Throughout the year, she monitors current events, reads everything she can get her hands on to help her understand the industries of companies she oversees and keeps abreast of hot governance topics.

Some of her favorite sources include: the Wall Street Journal’s cybersecurity daily newsletter, governance reports from big accounting and law firms, an array of industry blogs and analyst reports, particularly in the energy sector.

And preparation is also about further education. “You can never get enough information on key topics, including things like cybersecurity for example,” she notes. To that end, she is a National Association of Corporate Directors Governance Fellow and received the CERT Certificate in Cybersecurity Oversight, issued by Carnegie Mellon University.

In addition to being an advocate of continuous learning, Duganier is also health conscious.

Both of the public boards she sits on are in the energy sector and are based in Houston, the energy capital, and that means lots of barbecue, steak houses and Tex-Mex board dinners.

That poses challenges for Duganier, who recently became a vegan. While she says many restaurants can be very accommodating, she often opts for salsa and chips or salads, but barbecue restaurants are tough. “Nothing I can really eat there other than a baked potato or pickles,” she quips.

To make sure she’s eating enough, she has a bigger breakfast than usual and she brings protein shake packs with her to mix with water during meetings.

Her new diet has given her more energy for meetings, she says, adding, “when you have a heavy barbecue meal, you do get pretty sleepy.”

Board meetings also involve a lot of sitting, so she increases her workout intensity beforehand. She typically gets about 15,000 steps in a day, but she’ll often do less than 3,000 during board meetings.

She also steers clear of the coffee and cookie platters that are a mainstay at meetings.

Board meetings tend to last a few days, and that doesn’t include the time she puts in prior, talking to key constituents at the organizations she oversees. She sits on the audit committees of both public boards and since those have an extensive amount of fiduciary duties, she holds phone meetings prior to meetings to go through key financial filings with the committee to share comments that are not finalized until the actual face-to-face meeting.

She also holds meetings with key managers, including the CFO, comptroller, or chief accounting officer, and the internal and external auditors. And she always listens to company earnings calls.

“You want to make sure you have time for [not only] strategic things to happen, [but] other topics like organizational issues,” she explains.

This is an ongoing feature of Directors & Boards. To be considered as a subject for Survival Guide, contact Eve Tahmincioglu at eve@directorsandboards.com.


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