Recently, I was honored and pleased to join a panel discussion addressing Board Committee Structure, Responsibilities, and Composition. This Chicago-based event was sponsored by the National Directors Institute’s (NDI) Executive Exchange, a forum for business leaders looking to explore the latest developments in the corporate finance and governance landscape.
I thank Attorney Steve Barth of Foley & Lardner for asking that I participate. Moderated by Attorney Anne Ross, the discussion also featured Ann Wenzel, Assistant Secretary, Associate General Counsel at American Family Mutual Insurance Company. Attendees with widely diverse experiences joined us from a variety of industries and organization large and small.
As you can tell by the title, we focused on utilizing boards in the corporate world. Because TASC is privately held, I’m allowed a certain freedom in designing our board, a looseness not afforded to officers in a publicly traded company. While the TASC board focuses on strategic planning, our governance and protection are that of a publicly held organization.
At TASC, our board philosophy is one that stresses “throughput” and simplicity. I use a scale to illustrate the span between protection and planning, a span that our board addresses via oversight and development—for myself, for my leadership, and for the entire organization. To achieve desired outcomes, “TASC Forces”—our spin on the more traditional committee—focuses on five components to achieve desired outcomes: financial audit, non-financial audit, governance, strategy for TASC, and strategy for our holding company.
It was certainly an honor to sit on this panel. Yet, with all the knowledge in the room, I wish I’d been able to learn more about what these movers and shakers were innovating within their own organizations. On the other hand, the audience had some great questions for me.
I was asked how TASC achieves cross-pollination between our different committees. My answer: committees are chaired by board members, and committee participants include at least one additional board member. Together these individuals bring key findings and questions to the full board each quarter. When asked how we keep TASC committees fresh, my answer was simple: board members have staggered term lengths. By maintaining a good mix of turnover we keep ideas and viewpoints fresh. And this strategic timing also helps us maintain consistency because our entire board doesn’t turn over at the same time.
The topic was very interesting and the discussion was excellent. I am happy I could be part of the Executive Exchange and heartily encourage others to attend this worthwhile event.
Click on this graphic below for more information about the NDI Executive Exchange.