The Power of an Individual Director

John Gillespie and David Zweig offer “solutions” to their indictment of corporate boards in their bookMoney for Nothing:  How the Failure of Corporate Boards is Ruining American Business and Costing Us Trillions.  In addition to their recommendations to split the chairman/CEO role, to allow shareholders to call an extraordinary general meeting, add some clout to say-on-pay, they cite individual talented and committed directors who have helped to improve governance.

Jack Krol is cited for his role in helping Ed Breen to restore Tyco after the Kozlowski debacle, Ralph Whitworth is lauded for the ways he restored governance to Waste Management and Michele Hooper for her leadership in changing board culture and spreading those changes to multiple boards.

“Drawing on her early experience on Target’s now legendary board beginning in the 1990s, Michele Hooper, a financial expert with a University of Chicago MBA, has brought those lessons to Warner Music Group, PPG Industries, AstraZeneca, UnitedHealth Group, Seagram and DaVita.  Hooper learned from Target the value of having “a boardroom that allows for open and collegial discussion around the table without people getting upset or having a CEO who is going to put the kibosh on conversations.”

Michele has modeled excellence and has been generous about sharing what she’s learned.  As the president of the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors, she volunteers her time to lead one of the strongest chapters of NACD, distinguished by its highly highly effective seminar programs. A board member of the national NACD, she facilitates training sessions for directors. In her day job, she is president and CEO of the Directors’ Council, which finds candidates for boards.

By highlighting the impact of directors like Michele, the critics Gillespie and Zweig demonstrate that boards of directors are still our best hope for providing oversight to our management system.