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NACD Featured Conference Session: What Social Media Means to Your Board

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In the new era of digital media, just 140 characters on Twitter have the potential to affect a company’s reputation and severely impact its brand. In this communications minefield, it is essential that boards stay up-to-date on their companies’ social media strategies.

While directors should consider the defensive mechanisms in place, social media presents more than threats to cyber security and reputation. Websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can create new opportunities for brand-building, instantaneous communication, and increased engagement with stakeholders.

A session at the upcoming NACD Board Leadership Conference, “Social Media and Reputational Risk,” will help directors dig in and discuss both the risks and advantages that viral communications present. The panelists include some of today’s top experts in the field:

Richard Levick, Esq., president and CEO of LEVICK

Levick represents countries and companies in the highest-stakes global communications matters—from the Wall Street crisis and the Gulf oil spill to Guantanamo Bay and the Catholic Church. Levick was honored for the past three years on NACD Directorship’s list of the 100 most influential people in the boardroom and corporate governance community and has been named to multiple professional halls of fame for lifetime achievement. LEVICK’s digital team is a communications industry leader, deploying potent social media resources on behalf of clients worldwide.

Allan Grafman, CEO, All Media Ventures; chairman, Majesco Entertainment

Grafman monetizes content and investor capital for owners of intellectual property. As president of All Media Ventures, he advises investors, content owners, and media companies.

Grafman is chairman of Majesco Entertainment, a video game producer and distributor. He also serves on the board of directors at Big Tent (licensing), Pixfusion (technology), and is an operating partner at Mercury Capital Partners. He publishes frequently (Directors and Boards, NACD Directorship, Licensing Book, Inventors Digest) and contributes to MSNBC’s “Your Business.”

All of this experience has uniquely positioned Grafman to provide insight—from within multiple technology industries—into the importance of social media as a key component of any corporate strategy.

Fay Feeney, CEO, Risk for Good

Fay Feeney, a self-described “digital whisperer,” is a trusted advisor to corporate boards and executives on the newest trends in business and social media. Feeney founded Risk for Good to advise board chairs, CEOs, the C-Suite, and the entire boardroom on how they can fast track their learnings in a digital world. In addition, Feeney provides strategic insights on how to connect to real time information, whether it’s found on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, or Google. This is a competency that will strengthen directors’ “duty of care,” while improving their governance of these emerging strategic risks.

Feeney is a regular attendee at governance education events and is an NACD Governance Fellow. Her insights at conferences have always proven fruitful and her participation in this panel is sure to help directors develop their digital skills.

Neil S. Braun, director, IMAX Corp.; dean, Pace University

Braun has done it all: entrepreneur, corporate attorney, and television network president and CEO. He has been managed and mentored by some of the world’s best executives and, in turn, has had the opportunity to manage and mentor other talented people who have gone on to great success. He currently serves as the dean of the Lubin School of Business at Pace University.

Braun began his career in 1977 as a corporate attorney for the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and later joined a client of the firm, International Film Investors (an SBIC), where as senior vice president he structured and negotiated financing and distribution for feature films, including Gandhi, The Killing Fields, Hopscotch, Escape from New York, and The Howling. He has also served as president and COO of Imagine Films Entertainment as well as chairman and CEO of Viacom Entertainment. In this capacity, Braun was responsible for the turnaround of the production/distribution division for prime-time network programming. Continuing his career in the media, Braun served as president of the NBC Television Network and a GE corporate officer. Most recently, he has served as president and COO of Vanguard Animation LLC, which he founded with the producer of the Shrek animated feature franchise.

This is a small sampling of the long career that has uniquely suited Braun to comment on the issues challenging companies today, specifically in the realm of social networks.

Please join this distinguished panel at the “Social Media and Reputational Risk” session at the NACD Board Leadership Conference, and learn how to succeed as a director in the age of social media.

The conference will be held Oct. 14-16 at the Gaylord National Resort inNationalHarbor, M.D.—just minutes from downtown D.C.

Looking Down the Road: Governance Challenges of the Future

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Reflecting on the second anniversary of the passing of the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, the business media were quick to notice regulatory agencies’ slow pace in putting the mandates into effect. For the past two years, directors have waited for the numerous rules on corporate governance as promulgated by the landmark legislation to become final.

Although regulators are not nearly finished with the resulting rules from Dodd-Frank, the role of the boardroom is to provide oversight while considering the challenges coming around the corner. Directors must monitor current corporate performance with an eye on the company’s long-term strategy.

NACD’s latest publication, Governance Challenges–2012 and Beyond, offers a forward-looking perspective on the priority topics dominating boardroom discussion. Governance Challenges–2012 and Beyond features current guidance and thought leadership from six of NACD’s Strategic Content Partners, on issues ranging from executive compensation and director liability to risk oversight and board effectiveness.

Here are just a few highlights:

  • Mastering CEO succession planning from Heidrick and Struggles, CEO succession is critical to the long-term success of any company. Today, full board engagement is necessary for proper management of the leadership pipeline. That means ongoing boardroom involvement to ensure that succession plans can be readily adapted to changing circumstances, with a particular eye toward both predictable and unpredictable leadership disruption. Among other practicable suggestions, the report suggests mock board meetings to identify CEO successors and strategies to ease the transition.
  • Do financial statements and disclosures tell the company’s whole story? According to KPMG’s Audit Committee Institute, this question has become more important than ever, given the call for greater transparency from regulators and investors. In disclosures, directors should go beyond what is required to address expectations and provide a clearer context for the decisions made. To assist in this process, the board may choose to enlist the management-level disclosure committee.
  • Understanding the drivers of the business. In this section, Marsh and McLennan Companies continues this discussion originally visited in 2010 by the Report of the NACD Blue Ribbon Commission on Performance Metrics. To effectively identify and mitigate risks, it is critical that directors understand what drives profit and growth throughout the organization. While directors often receive an abundance of data on performance, they are less likely to receive information on the paths that lead to profit or loss. As Marsh & McLennan suggests, the board needs information on the trajectory of the enterprise if they are to serve as a strategic asset.

Legislators, regulators and shareholders have had greater influence on the boardroom than ever before. With insights and practical guidance from the nation’s leading boardroom experts, Governance Challenges–2012 and Beyond is an essential resource for directors who understand the need to stay ahead of the curve.

NACD Featured Conference Session: Tone at the Top

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What sets great companies apart? Executives and directors at the most admired corporations in the world call it strong corporate “culture.” That means everyone–employees, investors, business partners–embraces the same values and principles. They share a unified sense of how success is identified, and of the kind of impact the company should have.

Culture, thus defined, is essential to marketplace success.

At the management level, executives should exemplify the culture through both actions and words. Although directors are not typically viewed as arbiters of corporate culture, in fact, leading boards also exemplify and demonstrate those shared values.

As boards and individual directors help set the “tone at the top,” they influence how the company is perceived by investors, regulators and other stakeholders, thus significantly impacting the company’s performance, reputation and value.

Four veteran directors from leading global companies will join a panel discussion at the upcoming 2012 NACD Board Leadership Conference to talk about the vital role directors play in establishing a culture that motivates the workplace:

Seth Goldman

Seth Goldman, president and TeaEO of Honest Tea, provides keen insights into how he created a company now viewed as a beverage industry innovator–and how leaders can imbue their organizations with a spirit of just such innovation.

Robert Hotz

Robert Hotz is a senior managing director and co-chairman of Houlihan Lokey. He is also the global co-head of corporate finance and a member of the board of directors and operating committee. Hotz serves on the board of directors of Universal Health Services and is chairman of the board of Pep Boys.

Patricia F. Russo

Patricia F. Russo is director, General Motors, Merck, Hewlett Packard, Alcoa and KKR. She was named by Forbes as one of the ten most powerful women of 2006.

Dr. Ralph Z. Sorenson 

Ralph Sorenson is managing general partner of the Sorenson Limited Partnership. He is also president emeritus of Babson College, professor emeritus and former dean of the University of Colorado Business School, and former professor at the Harvard Business School. Dr. Sorenson serves on the board of Whole Foods Market, where he chairs the nominating and governance committee.

Don’t miss out on the unique perspectives these experts bring to the director’s role in shaping corporate cultures. Join us for this featured session, “Tone at the Top,” at the 2012 NACD Board Leadership Conference.