Board effectiveness and the NED

Helen Pitcher OBE, IDP-C, President of IDN and Chairwoman of Advanced Boardroom Excellence, was the keynote speaker at an event organised in November 2019 by the KPMG Cyprus Audit Committee Institute (ACI), in collaboration with INSEAD Directors Network and the Cyprus IDN Ambassador, NED, Cleopatra Kitti, IDP-C.

The event held welcoming speeches by Michael Antoniades, Chairman of KPMG in Cyprus and Petros Mavrommatis, Principal and Vice Chairman of KPMG Cyprus ACI, and a presentation by British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie CMG, pointing to the importance of balance between directors rights and shareholders rights. The event was summerised in an article in the Cyprus GOLD Magazine.

Helen Pitcher was also interviewed for an article in the paper version of the Cyprus Gold Magazine, as seen here

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During her speech Helen shared insights from her experience leading numerous board evaluations and serving on various boards at FTSE level.

Helen Pitcher pointed out that boards will only be as good as the individual knowledge each member brings to the table and the roles they play. Unfortunately, most people stop their training as soon as they get an executive role. She analysed the varied roles of a modern Non Executive Director (NED) and stressed the importance for organisations to reward NEDs based on measurable criteria

One example she shared related to one of UKs largest construction companies Carillion plc, which 2018 entered into compulsory liquidation. “I honestly believe they thought that either the banks or the Government would bail them out. There wasn’t simply not enough financial knowledge on the Board to avoid this problem.” “Add to this a fundamental lack of communication between the Board members and the Chairman and you have a company in crisis.” shared Helen Pitcher.

In a board evaluation conducted by Pitcher everybody pointed their finger at a particular member, seeing him as someone who did not add value, by virtue of his silent demeanour. When she gave this information to the Chairman, he was flabbergasted. The Board member in question happened to be his most valuable asset, who was constantly giving him vital information about how the company operated. The board needs to ensure they have a continuous and high awareness of the company’s strategic risk. As Ms. Pitcher explained, NEDs are those that provide business, strategic, functional and cultural oversight to their organisations, thus generating added value.

Ms. Pitcher outlined what skills should Board of Directors and shareholders seek when recruiting, in order to increase their Board’s capabilities and effectiveness.She pointed out that besides making the hiring pool more inclusive, recruiters should also start expanding the list of characteristics they look for in a Board member. Diversity is not limited to characteristics of race or gender but deals with diversity of thought. “In Board evaluations, we often see that people who are considered as nuisances or troublemakers are those with different set of opinions who are asking good questions that the others don’t want to answer,” says Pitcher. Her presentation concluded with an analysis on the importance of maintaining NED independence.

The future

Looking to the future, companies will be faced with an almost unrecognizable corporate landscape, says Pitcher. “If they don’t keep up with technological advancements, they will be swept away by the changing tides,” she notes, explaining how the fall of the high street market in the UK is a cautionary tale of how behemoths like Debenhams can turn into dinosaurs. “Artificial intelligence algorithms will become sophisticated enough to automate most of the decisions a Board member takes nowadays,” she says, acknowledging that, on the upside, this will give Boards the freedom to envision a long-term plan and place their worries about short-term results behind them.

Future boardrooms will hold chairs for both young people and company employees. Some final advice was shared by Pitcher “Companies need to arm themselves with people who are mature enough to understand how to pull out the best out of their Boards and effectively manage themselves to the next level.”

Summerized by Liselotte Engstam, IDP-C, NED and Chair Communincation, IDN Board




IDN New Year Message 2019 – 2020

Presidents Message

This year has been an exciting and busy year. We have had several new Board members in Pamela, Jeff, Karen and now Helen, who has been co-opted to cover an unexpected vacancy.  You will see below the work we have been doing on your behalf in relation to Webinars, events, Advocate and connect, Communicating new Board positions that our members secure, Mentoring etc, which are all member benefits. Our Ambassadors of whom we have circa 20 now, with more to join, also support our members immensely in these endeavours. 

Additionally, we have formed a closer bond with INBOARD, including having Peter Nietker on our board, and are working to set up additional programmes in the UK and France. These programmes supplement rather than detract from the IDP core offerings.

In Governance terms we look close to being able to set up a legal entity, open a Bank Account and thus consult on membership subscriptions. Thanks to Dominic and Karen for all their hard work. Some of our board members support not only with their work, but also pay for both services and tools needed for our operations. To de-risk our continued operations, we will move those costs into operational costs and establish partnerships and some base subscription fees. As requested at the AGM we are firming up on the IDN Value proposition, to enable members to have real clarity about what they can expect from the membership and why subscriptions will enhance our ability to add even greater value.

We are still, led by Thomas, with ICGC working on an Award or series of Awards which may we’ll attract sponsorship too, as well as further raising our profile as a body of certified Directors.

The nightmare of the year was GDPR, which gave us a real challenge in accessing membership data. Hagen and his team have done a sterling job on this!!!

To expand the reputation of our members and increase impact we have, led by Liselotte, promoted new board positions, inspired through webinars and social media and initiated a campaign to reduce usage of One Time Plastics through our board roles.  

Mary has provided valuable contributions in her board role, which she has now relinquished and is now the IDN Ambassador for the Americas. 

I cannot close this message without thanking Christopher, Alison and Ludo for all their hard work over the years. Without them we would not be where we are today! 

My existing Board members and ICGC have also worked tirelessly to achieve our aims and the new members have rapidly got to grips with our challenges and taken on key roles in Committee as well as on the Board.

We continue to support INSEAD and ICGC in their endeavour to be a Force for Good, and will align our overarching message for next year to be “Responsible Governance for a Disrupted World“.  

I wish everybody a Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year as appropriate.


Helen Pitcher, OBE, IDN President

INSEAD Directors Network 2019

INSEAD Directors Network, IDN, our global and expanding network of more than 1300 international board members and corporate governance experts had a remarkable year.

As a valued IDN Member we would appreciate your feedback on the activities and benefits provided via the network in this short survey, it is confidential and will only take 5-7 min to fill in. Find the survey here. It will be your Christmas gift to us!

The remarkable year is substantiated with the impressive list of IDN members who were appointed to 87 new board positionsin more than 15 countries during first three quarters of the year.

Our 18 local IDN ambassadors across the world has organised numerous local insight and networking events, some together with the local INBOARD and with our INSEAD NAA organisations.

In addition, we have organized global webinars since AGM 2018on current board topics, adding to the previous 21, where some of our own IDN members, ambassadors and board, INSEAD faculty and partners have shared their experiences.

The global webinars, soon to be available via our exclusive membership resources, covered topics as

  • Technology & Blockchain impact for Board Directors
  • Multi-cultural impact on Boards and Boardrooms
  • Writing a Board CV – Doing Yourself justice when applying for board roles
  • Sustainability in the Boardroom and investor ESG focus
  • Boards role in guiding Corporate Culture for Strategy Alignment
  • Innovation in the Boardroom
  • Changing responsibilities for boards and audit committees

We met at the INSEAD Directors Forums in Singapore in February on the topic of Governance in the era of Regulatory and Geopolitical shiftsand in Fontainebleau in October on the topic of Boards Renewal for Transformational Governance, where we also held our AGM.

We also met and discussed at the ICGC arranged Sustainability Summit in March and The INSEAD Alumni Association arrange European Forum in June.

We have initiated a mentoring scheme which during 2019 included 9 mentors and 11 mentees, exchanging valuable insights.

We have shared governance insights and engaged with and between members via our website, our external IDN LinkedIn page, and our IDN Twitter account.

Members have engaged in our Advocate & Connect Board Search service.

We have initiated a Board Member Pledge to Reduce One Time Plastics, which we hope will show how responsible and impactful our IDN members are. Do join the Pledge to reduce One Time Plastic Use!

IDN Members, Ambassadors and the Board contributed to 13 insightful blogposts on the topics of

Contribution to thought leadership was increased, as INSEAD Professor Ludo van der Heyden and our IDN board member Chair and NED Liselotte Engstam, together with Professors Magnusson and Karlsson, researched and shared the result in the article “Innovation and Corporate Renewal also Disrupt Boards

IDN 2020 Plans

2020 we believe will be an important year when INSEAD continue to emphasize that we need to use Business as a Force for Good , and IDN will support with our 2020 theme of Responsible Governance in a disrupted world.

Corporate Governance is continuing to align to the major trends impacting our businesses and societies as sustainability, geopolitics and digitalisation. Our President Helen Pitcher, OBE shares her insights on trends in corporate governance.

We will continue our close collaboration with INSEAD Corporate Governance Center, ICGC and continue our collaboration with the rest of the INSEAD Alumni community.

INSEAD Director Forums arranged by ICGC, brings a great opportunity to meet and network with old and new IDN Colleagues, the next one planned March 30-31 in Singapore and the 10 year anniversary IDF in October 16-17 October in Fontainebleau. We will start facilitating IDP reunion meetings for selected classes aligned with the IDFs.

The appreciated local IDN events arranged by our IDN Ambassadors, will continue and we will also network at local INSEAD Alumni and INBOARD events.

With a strong base in Europe and Asia and a growing network in Americas, we are excited about INSEADs expansion with a new INSEAD hub in San Fransisco and hope to meet many of our IDN Network Members there as well.

On a quarterly basis we will share our IDN members new board appointments, and we will shortly be rolling out the IDN 2020 mentoring program with a focus on IDN members who have recently been appointed to their first board.

We will interview more of our IDN members and increase sharing of their insights and insights on current board topics in IDN blog posts. We also invite our members to volunteer on topics and blogposts.

Our popular global Webinars on current board topics exclusive for our IDN members will continue and we have a webinar already confirmed for

February 17 12-13 CET; “The Value Adding Board – the profound impact of ownership structure on Board’s work, mindset and profile with experienced leader, board professional and author Torben Ballegaard Sorensen and IDN members.

At next years webinars we will cover topics as AI impact on boards, Non Profit Boards, Family Business Boards, Challenges for Financial Services Boards, Crisis and Communication for Boards, Leading Boards and Stakeholder Perspectives. Please let us know if you have tips or like to contribute.

We will continue to share insights and engage with Partners, IDN members and Governance experts via our website, our external IDN LinkedIn page,

and we will continue to communicate daily on corporate governance via our IDN Twitter account, helping modern board directors keep updated and be better positioned for board work in the digital era.

Listen to the partnership invitefrom our IDN President Helen Pitcher OBE, clarifying our ambition to increase collaboration with partners in several areas.

Via our exclusive member resources at our IDN website, our IDN members have access to insightsincluding videos, podcasts, articles and research, as well as webinar archives, discussion forums and more.

If this newsletter reaches you and you are not yet part of our engaging global international board director network, you can explore how to become a member.

IDN Year End message

We want to conclude our year with sharing some inspiration on topics we believe will be in focus for boards the coming year from the ICGC Series called Governance talks as

Introduction of ICGC and Professor Jose Luis Alvarez and the Importance of Social Capital for Directors 

Inclusive diversity from the boardroom to the organisation with INSEAD faculty Kay Formanek interviewed by Sonia Tatar, ICGC 

Crisis Rediness vs Crisis Management with Marjolijn van Oordt (IDP-C) interviewed by Sonja Tatar, ICGC 

Leading a Board with INSEAD Professor Stanislav Schekshnia

Boardroom Digital Transformation Prof Andrew Shipolov 


We like to thank all our engaged IDN members, INSEAD Alumni and Partners and wish you all a successful end of 2019 and a prosperous 2020!

The IDN Board

Helen Pitcher OBE, Dominic Nixon, Karen Loon, Hagen Schweinitz, Pamela Ravasio, Jeff Scott, Helen Wiseman, Thomas Seale and Liselotte Engstam


IDN Membership Benefits

* Opportunity for networking and personal branding being part of a unique network of practicing international board members and governance experts with exposure to partners
* A network of Ambassadors who facilitate and manage local and international events with networking opportunities, as well as promoting links with National Alumni Associations (NAAs) and INBOARD
* Regular international webinars on current board topics and career-related advice
Promotion of members and network in quarterly board position announcements and upcoming corporate governance awards
* A content rich website and blog with open and member exclusive sections, including access to previous webinars, and active social media sharing of governance related insights on LinkedIn and Twitter
* Advocate & Connect programme linking potential board members with positions available through the Network