Tag Archive: Director Professionalism–The Master Class

NACD Introduces New Director Credential and Recognizes Its First Class of Board Leadership Fellows

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In today’s complex business world, there’s a growing need for well-rounded directors who stay informed on emerging issues and leading practices. Unlike doctors and lawyers, directors do not have a formal certification program. They must find resources, mentors and peers on their own to help them stay up to speed.

The need for this kind of peer-to-peer director education led the National Association of Corporate Directors to create a specialized course of study, the NACD Board Leadership Program. NACD’s new director credential enables directors to not only demonstrate their dedication and commitment to boardroom excellence, but also to showcase the highest standards of director professionalism and anticipate the unknown by learning from experienced, world-class board leaders.

To become an NACD Board Leadership Fellow, participants must be experienced company directors, complete The Master Class and then complete at least 10 more credits of NACD education within 12 months. Participants are required to take a number of formal, skill-specific learning electives to hone their committee skills, keep their knowledge of board function and purpose up-to-date, and prepare them to offer a 360-degree vision to shareowners, companies and their board colleagues.

After completion of the program, fellows must complete at least 10 credits of NACD director education every year to maintain their status as NACD Board Leadership Fellows.

The first 16 NACD Board Leadership Fellows were recognized at a dinner in New York City in May. Collectively, this elite group represents boards of more than 60 companies and provides a snapshot of the caliber of directors engaged in continuous learning with America’s premier membership organization for board members:

“As a director in today’s rapidly changing corporate environment, board leadership requires keeping current, fresh and, above all, relevant,” said Michael Pocalyko, one of the new NACD Board Leadership Fellows. “NACD events are among the only places where I can speak with my peers frankly, confidentially and unimpeded. By participating in the full range of NACD director education and becoming a Board Leadership Fellow, I get early intelligence on emerging issues—so my boards can engage these issues as opportunities instead of reacting to them as challenges. These advantages not only ground me as a director, but ultimately benefit the companies and the shareholders I serve.”

Directors who are interested in becoming an NACD Board Leadership Fellow can contact NACD’s registrar at 202-572-2088 or email Fellowships@NACDonline.org.

For information about the NACD Board Leadership Fellowship program, please visit http://www.nacdonline.org/Education/content.cfm?ItemNumber=3577&navItemNumber=3704.

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.