The Strategic IRO: Providing Value to the Board

January 10, 2019 07:30 AM
Domain 7:
Strategic Counsel & Collaboration
Domain 10:
Corporate Governance

On January 10th, NIRI NY conducted its second ‘Strategic IRO’ panel as part of a series being offered during the 2018/19 season.  This panel, The Strategic IRO: Providing Value to the Board, shined a spotlight on what it means to “have a seat at the table” and build a solid relationship with the Board of Directors from the perspective of two seasoned directors.  The panel was jointly hosted by NIRI NY and the Society for Corporate Governance.

The discussion was moderated by Laura Kiernan, senior vice president of investor relations at Ubiquiti and founder and CEO of High Touch Investor Relations.  Distinguished panelists included George Bickerstaff, Former CFO of Novartis Pharma AG (Switzerland) and IMS Health (IMS), and currently serving on four public company boards, and Nina Henderson, Former VP Bestfoods and President of Bestfoods Grocery (acquired by Unilever) and currently on the boards of three public companies.

Our speakers provided an engaging discussion on several aspects of understanding and working with the Board of Directors.  Here are a few key essentials for IROs to strengthen your relationship with the Board:

  • The Board is focused on monitoring strategy and growth of a company – the IRO should create ongoing dialogue with investors to provide external insights and perspectives
  • Providing performance versus analyst expectations is impactful, but keep in mind the objective is the investor and their perspective on long-term value creation
  • Research the competitive landscape to provide feedback on current strategies and changing market dynamics – when you contribute your participation is more valued
  • Most well-run companies experience challenges, the key is to have strong relationships and prepare management and the Board to address issues in a straight-forward manner
  • Corporate Social Responsibility is a broader topic with increasing relevance, incorporate non-financial perspectives in your discussions with shareholders
  • Host informal meetings with audit committee members, the finance team and auditors – all of these individuals have useful perspectives on the peer group to share
  • A key aspect of director participation in investor meetings is to listen and gather feedback, IROs should be prepared to lead the discussion
  • If you aspire to a board position, know that it is mainly a result of credentials – your unique skillset and ability to provide advice and counsel

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