Tag Archive: Charlie Garcia

Straighten Up and Fly Right: IT Risk Governance for Non-Techie Directors

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Virginia Gambale

Jet Blue Director Virginia Gambale heard the news about the airline’s fed-up flight attendant—the one who exited the plane via the emergency slide, cursing passengers as he touched down on the tarmac—well before some of the company’s senior executives. Social media savvy Virginia uses a web tool to track all mention of companies on whose boards she sits, and as soon as someone tweeted news of the incident, she was on it.

 Virginia, a former CIO with Merrill Lynch and Bankers Trust, shared the story at NACD’s Director Professionalism®—The Master Class, held this week in Clearwater, FL. She was one of a number of dedicated NACD members honing her board leadership skills and using peer expertise to identify and explore innovative solutions to persistent and emerging challenges.

Virginia urged her peers with non-IT backgrounds to become more involved in oversight of the company’s technology strategy. “Ask questions,” she said. “If people tell you that deadlines are being missed, that delivery of services isn’t possible, or that it’s just too complicated to get something done, then you don’t have the right strategy and you may need to change your CIO. Ask the CIO to talk about allocation of resources and find out how the dollars are spent between maintenance and innovation. You can make the same judgments as you would on any other area of the business.”

 “Ask ‘What is our model for technology leadership?’” advises Virginia, and ask to be walked through the governance model and strategy for partners and communications with customers. “Read the company culture: Is IT a partner or service provider? How closely integrated is it with your lines of business? What, why and where are you outsourcing, and what effect is that having on your risk? Virtual roads and highways need to be maintained, but you can outsource a lot of this and pay only for what you use,” she said.

Virginia urges boards to make sure they have at least one person charged with asking these and other questions. “It can be helpful to have a technology and operations
sub-committee sitting under audit or risk,” she recommends, especially if the company needs to find a new CIO. Failing this, the board should consider hiring an outside consultant.

“Security breaches, brand tarnish, information leaks or, at worst, a death can do your company real harm,” said the director who joined the Jet Blue board around the time of the Valentine’s Day “Ice Incident.” And, she added, “You can’t risk disintermediation—the business boneyard is filled with companies where the strategists at board and C-suite level failed to ask the right questions and fooled themselves for too long.”

“Today, every man, woman and child has access to instant information,” she reminded the group. “Use social media intelligently—it can supply you with useful information about what your customers think. And remember, if a mind created it, a mind can break it. Be mindful of the need for ongoing vigilance and sound practice in information security.”

Other directors sharing their expertise with peers attending NACD’s Master Class included Office Depot Compensation Rear Admiral (Retired) Chairman Marty Evans, Winn Dixie Director Charlie Garcia, who discussed the implications of America’s growing Hispanic population for board composition, and Major General (Retired) Hawthorne “Peet” Proctor, who spoke about the characteristics of exemplary board leadership.

To learn more about NACD’s Director Professionalism-The Master Class in 2011, click here. Already attended the Master Class? Contact fellowships@NACDonline.org to find out how you can become a 2011 NACD Board Leadership Fellow.

U.S. Demographics, Hispanic Outreach, Board Service—and You

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 Our host was Mike Gonzalez and Sylvia Garcia, director of Hispanic Outreach for Newt Gingrich, was one of the attendees. I met Juan and Romanita, Gustavo and Hector, Octavio and Ana Maria, and at least three men named Manny. Jeb Bush, Jr. introduced his new wife, Sandra Algudady. The occasion was a dinner at the Heritage Foundation to celebrate the launch of Libertad, the conservative think tank’s brand new Spanish-language website.

You can read here why Heritage believes it is important to offer Hispanic audiences the opportunity to explore conservative thinking in Spanish, but the takeaways from an evening of lively discussion resonate far beyond those who would like to see not only a Republican president in the White House, but someone with at least as much affinity and respect for Latinos as presidents “41” and “43,” both of whom were lauded by the group of 30 conservative thought leaders from the world’s of business, journalism, advocacy, policy and politics.

I was at the dinner at the thoughtful invitation of NACD member Pablo Schneider, who, as a contributing editor of Latino Leaders magazine, involved NACD in producing a board edition of the publication earlier this year. The magazine is produced in English, which is good because the Irish (that’s me) may be great talkers, but we are certainly not great linguists. Latino Leaders encourages Hispanic executives to consider board service, making sure that American businesses have access to directors who will match their customers of the future.

Already, U.S. Hispanics are the country’s largest minority and have $1 trillion in purchasing power. By 2050 they are likely to be 30 percent of the U.S. population.

 Pablo and fellow NACD member Charlie Garcia, a director of Winn-Dixie and a great contributor to American society through his military and public service, will be among the directors facilitating discussions at next week’s NACD Director Professionalism®—The Master Class in Tampa, FL. They’ll be helping committee chairs and lead directors consider their own board composition and the skills and experience they may wish to consider accessing as they prepare for the future.

 Here at NACD we are practicing our language skills. The session is titled Su Mesa Directiva, Su Empresa, Y Los Mercados Hispanos, but old-school Anglophones need not worry; the discussion will be in English.

Charlie Garcia (front right) with Jeb and George Bush, 2006. Reproduced with Mr Garcia's permission