Ask a Director: How Are Corporate Boards Responding to COVID-19?

Dottie Schindlinger
5 min read

Ask a Director: How Are Corporate Boards Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis? Introduction to the Series

Recent corporate governance research has consistently noted that the global business environment is becoming more complex, dynamic, interconnected, impactful, and challenging every year — and corporate directorship has become more demanding as a result. But the development of the COVID-19 global pandemic casts everything in a new light. While the underlying pressures on corporate directors remain, this new and devastating crisis represents an unprecedented challenge for corporate governance.

At the same time, modern governance has evolved over the last few years: corporate leaders have become more agile; directors leverage a variety of technologies, proactively seek data and insights, and have more nimble communication and collaboration practices; and governance and decision-making includes a broader and more diverse group of stakeholders. While a crisis of this scale is unprecedented, many corporate leaders found they were better prepared to respond than they might have realized. Many directors and executives have pivoted quickly to leading their companies remotely, to collaborating across distributed teams, to gathering intelligence through multiple channels, and to iterating rapidly on decisions as the situation continues to evolve.

Diligent Institute convened a virtual panel of experienced directors from different sectors, geographies, and operational experiences to share their insights on modern governance practices during the COVID-19 crisis. The result is a five-part series providing a compilation of the panel’s responses to a series of questions, along with suggestions for corporate boards based on their feedback.

Meet the Panelists

  • Philip Aiken is Chairman of Balfour Beatty plc, Chairman of AVEVA plc, Non-Executive Director of Newcrest Mining Limited, Director of the Australia Day Foundation, and Director of Gammon China Limited. From 1997 to 2006, he was President of BHP Petroleum and then Group President of Energy of BHP Billiton. Philip has been Managing Director of BOC/CIG, Chief Executive of BTR Nylex, Senior Advisor of Macquarie Bank (Europe), Chairman of Robert Walters plc, Senior Independent Director of Kazakhmys plc and Essar Energy plc, and Director of Essar Oil Limited. Other previous roles include Director of National Grid plc from 2008 to 2015; Director of Miclyn Express Offshore; Chairman of the 2004 World Energy Congress; and serving on the Boards of the Governor of Guangdong International Council, World Energy Council, and Monash Mt. Eliza Business School.
  • Eileen Kamerick currently serves on four boards: Associated Banc-Corp. (NYSE), Legg Mason Closed-End Mutual Funds (NYSE), Hochschild Mining, plc (LSE), and AIG Funds. She chairs three audit committees and one corporate governance committee. Previously, Eileen served on the Board of Directors for ServiceMaster, a Fortune 1000 services company, and Information Resources, Inc., a leading marketing data and analytics company, prior to the successful sale of both companies. She is an adjunct Professor of Law at The University of Chicago Law School, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, and University of Iowa College of Law, where she teaches corporate finance, corporate governance, and compliance. Recently, Eileen was profiled as a “Director to Watch” in Directors & Boards She was also profiled in The Board Game: How Smart Women Become Corporate Directors. WomenInc. magazine named her one of 2019’s Most Influential Corporate Board Directors.
  • Claudia Fan Munce is currently a Venture Advisor at NEA, one of the largest and most active venture capital firms globally, as well as a board member at Best Buy, CoreLogic, and Bank of the West/BNP Paribas. She is a seasoned board member, having served on the board of National Venture Capital Association (NVCA); Chairwoman of the board of the Global Corporate Venturing; Advisor Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and many global organizations, such as the Latin American Venture Capital Association, Women in Leadership in Private Equity in China, Canadian Innovation Exchange, and the Savannah Fund in Africa. Claudia is frequently cited as a pioneer and leader in the corporate venture community and contributed to many articles and books on corporate innovation published in Businessweek, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. She was named one of the 20 Most Powerful Players in the Silicon Valley by Worth
  • Jamie Orlikoff is currently the Chairperson of the board for the St. Charles Health System in Bend, Oregon. He is also President of Orlikoff & Associates, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in healthcare governance and leadership, strategy, quality, and organizational development. Jamie is the National Advisor on Governance and Leadership to the American Hospital Association and Health Forum, and is the Senior Consultant to the Center for Healthcare Governance. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare in the inaugural list by Modern Healthcare Jamie has consulted with hospitals in six countries, and since 1985 has worked with hospital and system governing boards to strengthen their overall effectiveness and their oversight of strategy and quality. He has written 15 books and over 100 articles.
  • Yiannis Petridesis a board member at Mytilineos S.A., a leading industrial company listed on the Greek stock exchange, and involved in the Energy and Mining sector. He is also a board member at Puig, a privately held company operating in the world of fashion and prestige fragrances, with a brand portfolio including Carolina Herrera, Paco Rabanne, Nina Ricci, and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Additionally, Yiannis is currently Senior Industry Advisor for Frankfurt-based Triton private equity. Among other prior board positions, he was formerly Chair of the Supervisory Board at Refresco N.V., the world’s largest independent bottler for retailers and A-brands, with production in North America, Mexico, and Europe. Prior to serving on boards, Yiannis had 23 years of operating experience at PepsiCo.

>> Continue on to Part 1 of 5: How Does Corporate Governance Change in a Crisis?

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Dottie Schindlinger

Dottie Schindlinger is Executive Director of the Diligent Institute, the governance think tank and research arm of Diligent Corporation. In her role, Dottie promotes the intersection of governance and technology as a recognized expert in the field.' She co-authored Governance in the Digital Age: A Guide for the Modern Corporate Board Director, '2019, John Wiley & Sons Publishers, and is creator and co-host of The Corporate Director Podcast, a fortnightly show featuring corporate directors sharing their stories about modern governance.''

Dottie was a founding team member of BoardEffect, a board management software platform launched in 2007 focused on serving the needs of healthcare, higher education & nonprofit boards. Prior to BoardEffect, she spent 15 years working in a variety of governance roles, including as a board support professional, consultant, trainer, board member, and senior executive. 'Dottie serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of the Alice Paul Institute, and is a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar.' She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.