2017 Second Quarter
TOP OF MIND: What directors are thinking
By Kelly McCarthy

JOSHUA RAMO, DIRECTOR: Starbucks Corp. and FedEx Corp.

“For a couple of decades, globalization looked unstoppable. And a lot of businesses built their future on that assumption. The world has changed. The easy phase of linking the world together is over now, and a sense of growing crisis is running through nearly every element of politics, finance and technology. We don’t honestly know how this will end, but the historical examples of this kind of trouble are worrying. They suggest everything from war to economic panic, so in corporations that really think in a strategic, long-term fashion, the importance of some judgment about the future is growing. Getting it right is an essential strategic asset. For most boards, this isn’t an academic exercise. It requires real insight and experimentation, a willingness to help management take risks and deal with surprise. A friend said to me of a board he’s on that the directors had switched up their goal for each meeting. Rather than focusing on traditional issues, they now judge success by the number of actionable ideas produced in each meeting. The directors are there not merely to supervise, but to point firmly at new directions that may help reveal the future ahead. “

Joshua Cooper Ramo serves as an advisor to numerous prominent companies and investors throughout the world. He is co-CEO of Kissinger Associates, the advisory firm of former U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger. Ramo is author of The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It.


“As a Humana board member, and also a physician executive, what’s top of mind for me is to ensure Humana has the proper clinical and data-analytics resources to achieve what we call our Bold Goal: to improve the health of the communities we serve 20 percent by 2020, by making it easy for people to achieve their best health. My area of expertise is population health, and as a pioneering leader in this growing discipline, it’s exciting for me to contribute what I’ve learned during a quarter-century in the field to Humana’s pursuit of its Bold Goal endeavor. I feel fortunate as a health professional to be on the board of a company whose success derives from its relentless focus on meeting the health and well-being needs of its customers and physician-partners. In so doing, Humana also meets the needs of society as a whole. More than ever before, board members of all companies must ponder and find an answer to the question of how their enterprises contribute to the greater good, while at the same time adhering to the strictest standards of ethics and good governance, and returning a reasonable profit to their shareholders.”

David B. Nash, M.D., is founding dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health, and for 25 years has been on the faculty of Thomas Jefferson University. He also serves as the Dr. Raymond C. and Doris N. Grandon Professor of Health Policy.


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