Kim A. Van Der Zon Head of Global Board Practice, Egon Zehnder
Your board is a key strategic asset, expected to contribute direct business value as well as strong corporate governance in the face of intensifying demands.
What Investors Look for with Respect to Board Governance
Mayree Clark, Managing Partner of Eachwin Capital and a Director of the Board of Ally Financial Services talks about her experiences as a director and shares her perspectives as an investor whose approach relies strongly on evaluating corporate governance and leadership.
Today’s world demands more from your board: Uniquely skilled and specialist directors. Diverse, global perspective. Sophisticated strategic acumen. Uncompromising integrity. Independence. Transparency. Accountability. International vision. Adaptability. Teamwork.
The best boards proactively strive to meet their evolving responsibilities with the active support of outside advisors who are not only professionally expert, but also worthy of the board’s absolute trust and confidence.
Access and Insight
Egon Zehnder’s Board Consulting Practice works closely with some of the world’s most respected and highest performing boards, and we maintain close ties to outstanding leaders, in multiple industries, in every geography. As your board’s trusted advisors, we connect you to the most advanced insights into board effectiveness, help you craft creative solutions and strategies grounded in deep knowledge of best practice, and bring you ready global access to top directors. Further, the Egon Zehnder consultants supporting your board link you to the expertise and market reach of all the consultants across our global network. This is not a mere promise, it is a core value of our firm. We share compensation, enabling us to build authentic long-term personal relationships with clients, candidates, and each other, beyond the incentive of personal gain. The power of these trusted networks places the insight and resources of our entire firm at each consultant’s fingertips, making our solutions richer and more responsive, and creating tangible and enduring business impact for our clients.
Personal, Objective Counsel
From the day we meet you, we invest fully in knowing you. We seek deep understanding of all that your board hopes to accomplish. Just as important, we strive to know your directors personally and stay actively involved with your board, gaining insights that help us move far beyond standard prescription. Yet even as we develop close bonds with you, we remain forthright and objective. We say plainly what we think, and why. There is great power in this personal, objective exchange. Striking the proper balance of personal connection and unbiased perspective is a key to unlocking the collective wisdom of your directors; attracting the very best talent to your board; creatively making your board more diverse, inclusive, and insightful and realizing your true potential as a team – thus delivering full strategic value to your company and its shareholders.
Director search has grown markedly more challenging in recent years, for several reasons. The heightened expectations now placed on boards have elevated both the professional standards and personal commitment required of all directors. At the same time, many boards find that the supply of independent-minded “board experienced” directors – especially those who can add vital forms of specialized skills and expertise – is quite limited, as such candidates are both widely sought after and sometimes hesitant to take on the intensive responsibilities of board service today. To ensure your board’s ongoing vitality and effectiveness, then, you must creatively tap new, more diverse talent pools.
Our personal, objective counsel constructively widens your board’s view of potential non-executive directors. We apply our close understanding of your board to bring you fresh, practical possibilities that may not fit your standard model, and invite you to consider candidates who initially may not “feel like us,” but will prove a sound “fit” at your table and add to your team effectiveness as they diversify your board’s perspective, bringing out the best in all your board members.
Our Board Consulting Practice maintains a substantial and constantly evolving candidate database which supports our seamless worldwide consultant network, enabling us to quickly identify exceptional candidates for every appointment. We personally engage the best qualified director candidates in frank but discreet dialogue to gain detailed, reliable insight into their qualifications and suitability for service on your board. When we present a director candidate for your consideration, we detail the distinct value the individual could to add to your board, and fully articulate what the candidate will contribute to your performance as a team.
Whether the requirements are geographically based, skill based, or market specific, we have the market knowledge, contacts and experience to bring you outstanding candidates who meet your unique requirements and will mesh into a cohesive, effective board.
In light of the board’s traditional fiduciary responsibilities as well as the tangible contributions a high-performing board can make to the success of a company, the best boards now conduct regular board reviews facilitated by an objective, experienced third party with no stake in the outcome.
Our thoroughly customized Board Effectiveness Review is distinguished by a richly qualitative, high touch approach. We engage board members in face-to-face conversations to explore board relationships, interactions, and behaviors toward the ultimate goal of helping your board consistently perform at the highest levels. We pay particular attention to collaboration, inclusiveness, interpersonal trust, and mutual respect – all hallmarks of the most effective boards.
We provide constructive, ongoing feedback on:
- Your board’s structure, composition, and diversity
- Board processes and information flow
- How behaviors and interpersonal relationships shape the quality of discussion and decision making
- Your board’s ability to deal with key governance topics such as CEO and board succession, company strategy, culture, risk, and stakeholder relationships
We identify common themes and similar issues other boards have faced, as appropriate, and share practices that have proven effective in those circumstances for your consideration. Our role is to help your board find its own path – not only to governing soundly, but also to optimizing its contributions to your company’s strategic success.
The consultants in our Board Practice can provide thoughtfully personal appraisals of individual directors, to help them strengthen their contributions to your board, and to lend objective data and insightful perspective to your director succession strategy. Director appraisals are conducted by experienced consultants, using in-depth, competency-based interviews combined with detailed 360 degree references. The longstanding, confidential and trust-based relationships we build with directors allow us to surface deeply personal insights and unusually reliable findings.
Egon Zehnder’s Board Consulting Practice has helped hundreds of boards across multiple geographies and industries to be rigorously proactive in serving their companies, shareholders, and other key stakeholders. We work as your partner to assure your board is continuously prepared to fill vacancies with outstanding directors who bring exactly the value you require, who fulfill your strategic needs for diversity, and who also prove an excellent personal and inclusive team fit to your board. Our Board Consulting Practice helps you to:
- Thoroughly align director succession criteria with your company’s key needs
- Proactively adapt director requirements as company needs and strategy change
- Maintain a pipeline of qualified director candidates with a diverse range of profiles to meet every contingency
As we craft your board succession plan with you, our experienced consultants can expertly address:
- Gaps that may arise due to emerging needs and unexpected events, as well as anticipated vacancies, ensuring you sustain the right blend of industry, functional, and experience skill sets on your board
- Committee assignment rotations and committee chair nominations, with forecasts to reflect your evolving requirements
- Diversity and globalization needs, so you can maintain the optimal blend of gender, cultural viewpoints, market perspectives, and international skills on your board
A change at the head of your board demands particular consideration and scrutiny, requiring highly specialized skills, seasoned judgment, and unfaltering discretion. Experts in our Board Consulting Practice collaborate closely with you to identify and attract exceptional Chairperson candidates whose inclusive team leadership, integrity, personal and business characteristics closely match the nature and culture of your company and the evolving demands on your board. Our Chairperson Search process is appropriately thorough, professional, and exhaustive.
The goal of our Board Consulting Practice is to be your valued, deeply trusted partner in building a distinctly talented, appropriately diverse, insightful, and soundly structured board, meticulously prepared to perform in the best interests of your stakeholders in a rapidly changing world.