IDN Webinar: Tech for Good – What is the role of company boards?

Company boards have a key role to play in guiding organisations in the digital age.

By Karen Loon, IDN Board Member and Non-Executive Director

To celebrate the first ever digital edition of Global INSEAD Day on 12 September 2020, the INSEAD Directors Network (“IDN”) Global Club held a webinar open to all on “Tech for Good – What is the role of company boards”.

The global panellists were IDN Americas ambassador, Mary Francia, IDN Australia and New Zealand Ambassador, Helen Gillies and Dimitri Chichlo from Switzerland, who are all experienced Non-Executive Directors and INSEAD certified directors (IDP-Cs).

The panel was facilitated by IDN Board Member, Liselotte Engstam based in Sweden with Q&A support from Karen Loon, a fellow IDN Board Member based in Singapore.

Following an introduction by Liselotte Engstam, the panel conversation covered four broad areas:

  • How technology aligns to an organisation’s purpose and strategy
  • The increasing importance of stakeholder communication
  • How can boards best support management in the digital age
  • How can current and aspiring board members keep up to speed with developments

Technology should be core to your organisation

All three panellists agreed that today’s organisations must ensure that technology is an integral part of their strategies.  With companies facing increasing focus by external stakeholders, whether investors, clients or employees who are holding boards to account, organisations must have a proper purpose, and technology must support that purpose.

As Helen Gillies said, “Technology is just key – it impacts everything that we do; every interface that we have with our external stakeholders, clients, employees, every aspect of our business sales, so it’s just integral.  And so that means we must get that strategy around technology right”.

A challenge highlighted by Dimitri Chichlo which boards face is that few boards have people with technology and operations (including cybersecurity) experience, with the majority being business leaders.

Mary Francia added that a question boards need to tackle is how best to manage new risks which are much wider than financial risks – whether technological, geopolitical, environmental, social and governance.  “Without the right composition with other vital skills and expertise, you may not have the requisite depth to ask the right questions when it comes to technology, and to support and build what is driving tech for good” said Mary.

How can boards best support management in the digital age?

According to Helen Gillies, board members have a key role to ensure that the purpose of their organisations are reviewed regularly with management.

As board members, one thing that’s really critical is we have to be curious. So we have to be looking outside our organisation the whole time thinking what are our clients during, what are our competitors doing, how do we make our organisation better, so that that the concept of being hungry for information is really key” – Helen Gillies

A good practice which Dimitri Chichlo shared on how he supports management was to build rapport with senior leaders outside of the boardroom as soon he started his role to create some proximity with them, which was very much appreciated by management.

Because of increased pressure from investors and stakeholders, to enhance the competence of boards, in addition to more board education to support existing directors, Mary Francia sees more companies looking at their board compositions in detail, and  doing board assessments to look at the skill sets of the boards and gaps to identify whether new people should be brought in, committees created or advisors sought.  She highlighted the importance of boards having an inclusive culture for change.

The increasing importance of stakeholder communication

All panellists agreed that communicating more broadly about environmental, social and corporate governance (“ESG”) to stakeholders is becoming increasingly important.

Organisations should look beyond their local listing disclosure requirements, and share with employees, communities they work in, clients and investors more about what they are doing.  Further, they should understand the stakeholder concerns of their company’s most material stakeholders and ensure that they communicate messages clearly in a language which stakeholders understand.  Appropriate board level dashboards on the metrics which really affect the individual company’s business context are important as well as looking at the right outcomes.  Finally, having the right accountability, measures, and appropriate links between behaviours and remuneration (which are aligned the purpose of the organisation and its strategy) is crucial.

The panellists also highlighted that having technology and HR competencies on the board, and also ensuring that the management of HR and Technology partner together more closely is also going to be increasingly more important in the future, given that technology should be core to all organisations in the future, and often these two functions are not as aligned as they should be.

Mary Francia also reminded participants of the increasing importance of boards having an inclusive and ethical mind when looking at technology, and how it is applied.  Dimitri Chichlo added that this in particular needs to be considered when supporting employees as they adapt in the new world, as technology will impact different generations of employees in different ways.

How can current and aspiring board members keep up to speed with developments?

Our panellists were enthusiastic about the power of IDN’s network, its webinars and its mentoring programme to connect members which are excellent ways for IDN members to engage and keep up to speed.

“… the nice thing is to be able to just get on the phone and talk to one of your directors in Turkey for example or in India, and being able to discuss about a subject because the perspective is so different for every one of them; that that just only enriches and that you just cannot find anywhere” – Mary Francia

Liselotte Engstam highlighted that aspiring directors should seek broad experiences and try to get some P&L experience and run a business to become more familiar with dealing with complexity.

Mary Francia also recommended that aspiring directors gain experience early in their careers in more than one functional area, and “be brave enough to try something different”.

Dimitri Chichlo shared that “…if you work in operations, you will always touch technology, and you will learn on the spot.  Whilst books are great, learning with… IT people on the spot gives you an incredible amount of knowledge”.  He also mentioned that there are many shorter online programmes available which board and aspiring board members can do to help them keep up to speed with emerging trends and developments in technology.

When considering board roles, panellists however cautioned aspiring directors to ask specific questions to assess whether they are really comfortable with the risk of the organisation and how that organisation does things when things go wrong.

Final advice to board members

In their concluding remarks, the panellists highlighted that the rapid pace of change with technology, what organisations are doing now will not be what they are doing in another five or ten years.  Boards need to anticipate the technological changes and keep up with them.  Board members should also ask good questions about whether the organisation is innovative, sustainable, able to adapt to technological changes in the future, accountable and inclusive.

As Helen Gillies concluded, “…the current pandemic has challenged all of us thinking about everything…  How do we do things better? How do we challenge our thinking?  Because what was normal yesterday is not going to be normal tomorrow”.

A replay of this webinar will be available to INSEAD alumni shortly.  IDN’s next webinar for members will be on 16 October 2020, as part of the INSEAD Directors’ Forum.

55 additional board appointments for INSEAD Directors Network members

Members Board & Corporate Governance Positions Announcement 2Q – 2020 

INSEAD’s International Director Network, IDNis proudly sharing the recent appointments of board and corporate governance positions of our members, truly recognising our members and the strength of our IDN network.

IDN members have been appointed to 55 new board positions in 22 countries, summing up to 293 position announcements since 2017.

As a member of IDN, the network of INSEAD International Board Directors, (full membership is open to all INSEAD Alumni with appropriate directorship experience and is automatic for Certified Directors (IDP-C) from INSEAD’s International Directors Program (IDP)), you can be truly proud of your network!

You will find the IDN members with new board positions below.  Why don’t you help share our network’s achievement via Linkedin, as well as also position yourself and your membership of a vibrant network via this LinkedIn post.

And take the time to connect with your fellow IDN members at LinkedIn and expand your board contacts by clicking their names below and connecting with them!

To date, IDP has been completed by 1,302 participants, with 986 certified IDP-C/ IDBP-C directors, and our International Board Network IDN of INSEAD Alumni includes more than 1,475 members.

IDN works closely with INSEAD Corporate Governance Centre, which undertakes cutting-edge research and teaching tailored to the needs of boards and international directors.  The Centre fosters a global dialogue on the challenges of corporate governance and leadership in an international context.

INSEAD Directors’ Network – Members New Board & Corporate Governance Positions

IDN members – Certified IDP-C Board Directors

Céline Abecassis-Moedas – June 2020 – Non-executive Director at Vista Alegre Atlantis (Listed, HQ Portugal)
Carole Ackermann – April & June 2020 – Non-Executive Director at BNP Paribas (Suisse) SA (Private, HQ Switzerland),  Chairman at École hôtelière de Lausanne( Private, HQ Switzerland)
Xavier Bedoret – May 2020 – Independent Expert Member of the Audit Committee at Radio & Television Belge (Public Sector – Brussels)
Stefan Buser –June 2020 – Board member at Netrics AG (Private, HQ Switzerland)
Elisabetta Cugnasca – March and April 2020 – Board, Management Controlling Committee & Supervisory Body member at IW Bank (Private, HQ Italy), Board member of “Be Shaping The Future DigiTech Solution” (Private, HQ Italy)
Lale Develioglu – April 2020 – Independent Board Director at Aksa Akrilik (Listed, HQ Turkey)
Yves Elsen – April 2020 – Non-Executive Director at Ardagh Group S.A. (NYSEC Listed, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg)
Liselotte Engstam – June 2020 – Board Member at Institute for Management of Innovation & Technology (Foundation, HQ Sweden)
Ozgen Etker Simons – January 2020 – Non-Executive Board Member at Lake Geneva Investment Partners (HQ Switzerland)
Gerry Fitzpatrick –May 2020 – Independent Non-executive Director, Zurich Life Assurance PLC, Young Social Innovators Ireland
Barbara Frohn – May 2020 – Chair of the Supervisory Board at Citigroup Global Markets Europe AG (HQ Germany)
Daniel Frutig-Meier – May & June 2020 – Member & Delegate of the Board at Lerch AG – Winterthur/Switzerland  (Private, HQ Switzerland), Vice Chairman of the Board at Arviem AG – Baar/Zug (Private) and Board member at Misanto AG (Private)
Rutger Groot – March 2020 – Supervisory Board Member at Netherlands Africa Business Council
David Haglund – June 2020 – Non-Executive Board Director at Aramex (Listed, HQ UAE)
Denise Koopmans – August 2020 – Member Supervisory Board, Chair Remuneration Committee, Royal BAM Group NV (listed, HQ the Netherlands)
Joachim Kuske – April 2020 – Board Member at Luxembourg Director Institute (ILA) (NGO, HQ Luxembourg)
Karen Loon – January 2020 – Vice-Chair and Singapore Councillor at Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand Singapore Council (NGO Professional Body, HQ Singapore)
Bert Meerstadt – June 2020 – Chairman of Supervisory Board at CB Logistics (Private, HQ Netherlands)
Bruno Mercier – June 2020 – Non-Executive Director at Bluemoon Holdings (Private, Cayman Islands)
Dominic Nixon – December 2019 – Chairman, Board of Governors at Tanglin Trust School (Private Education Sector, Singapore)
Gbenga Oyebode– November 2019 & March 2020 – Board of Trustees Member at Ford Foundation (Not-for-profit, HQ USA), Board of Trustees Member at The Africa Center (Not-for-profit, HQ USA), Non-executive Director at Lafarge Africa PLC (Public, HQ Nigeria)
Monica Porfilio – October 2019 – Non-Executive Board Director at Nature Investments S.àr.l.
Karl Reynders – February 2020 –Non-Executive Director at ELBA NV (PE-owned, HQ Belgium), Board Member at Indigo B Professional Services Pte Ltd (Private, HQ Singapore)
Thomas Seale – October 2019 & June 2020 – Non-executive Director at Raymond James SICAV (Luxembourg), Non-executive Director at LFP Opportunities SICAV (Luxembourg), Non-executive Director at Silver Holdings S.A. (Luxembourg)
Oern Stuge – March and June 2020 –  Chairman at  Neo Medical SA (Private, HQ Switzerland), Board of Directors at Median Technologies SAS (Listed, HQ France)
Aude Thibaut de Maisieres – May 2020 – Non Executive Director at Solvay (Listed, HQ Brussels)
Doris Tomanek – April 2020 – Member of Supervisory Board at AO Unicredit Bank, Chairwoman of Remuneration and Nomination Committee at UniCredit Bank Russia (Private, HQ Russia)
Bas van Buijtenen – April 2020 – Non-Executive Director and Member of the Nomination/Remuneration Committee at Microphyt, France (VC owned, HQ France), Non-executive Board Member at ABC Transfer (Private, HQ France)
Kees van der Vleuten – April, June & July 2020 – Member of the Board of Advisors at MAS Services
(Private, HQ Netherlands), Member of the Board of Advisors at Rahma Foundation (HQ Netherlands), Member of the Board of Advisors at Connecting Works, Member of the Board of Advisors at Worldlife Foundation
Till Vestring – July 2020 – Non-Executive Director at Delaware Pro (Private, HQ Belgium)
Helen Wiseman – April 2020 – Independent Non-executive Director at Elixinol Global Limited (Listed, HQ Australia)

IDN Members – Board Directors

Jeroen Cammeraat – March 2020 – Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Plasmacure BV, Netherlands (Private, HQ Netherlands)
Susanne Hannestad – March 2020, Non-Executive Board Director at Monty Mobile (Private, HQ London UK)
Gautam Khurana – February 2020 – Executive Director at Precious Shipping Public Company Limited (HQ Thailand)
Martin McCourt – May 2020 – Non-Executive Director at Sierra Wireless (Nasdaq: SWIR, HQ Vancouver Canada)
Robin Pho – February and April 2020, Non-Executive Board Member, Forum for the Future Asia (NGO, Singapore, HQ in the UK), Non-Executive Board Member at Family Business Network Asia (NPO, Singapore)
Joshua C K Siow – February 2020 – Non-Executive Independent Board Director at Pico (Public Company Limited, Stock Exchange of Thailand, HQ Thailand)
Jim Strang – May 2020 – Chairman of the Board at Hg Capital Trust PLC (Listed, HQ UK)
Remon Veraart – March 2020 – Supervisory Board Member at Euramax BV (Private, HQ Netherlands)

Previous announcements and more information

Previous board position announcements by shared by IDN;
March 2020 October 2019 July 2019  February 2019  November 2018 July 2018 April 2018  January 2018   October 2017

 

For more information about: 

INSEAD International Directors’ Network: https://blogs.insead.edu/idpn-globalclub

INSEADs Corporate Governance Programmes: https://www.insead.edu/executive-education/corporate-governance

For members of IDN, please ensure that you share your new appointments via survey shared to you vi mail, any queries contact l.engstam@insead.edu

For head hunters interested in finding international board members focused on staying up to date with latest board and governance insights, please contact IDN President, Helen Pitcher OBE, at helen.pitcher@insead.edu

For organisations interested in partnering with IDN, please contact IDN President, Helen Pitcher OBE, at helen.pitcher@insead.edu

On Behalf of the INSEAD International Directors’ Network Board,


Helen Wiseman, 
IDP-C, IDN & NAA Australia Board Member,
NED at multiple companies
www.linkedin.com/in/helenwiseman
helen.wiseman@insead.edu

AI Leadership for Boards – now a reality!

By Liselotte Engstam, IDP-C, NED and Chair, Communication, IDN Board Member

We are facing a period of disruption and disorder, and we need our leaders to show the way. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the crucial technologies for solving our most critical business and society challenges for a more sustainable world. Board work is already a very challenging and complex task, and AI will bring that challenge to a new level.

When the National Association for Corporate Directors, NACD did a Survey of Public Company Governance 2019, prior to the pandemic, they found that three of the top five trends with the largest impact were technology related with growing business-model disruptions as the top trend.

Ref: NACD Public Company Governance Survey 2019

With an ambition to find insights to better guide boards, Fernanda Torre, House of Innovation at Stockholm School of Economics & Digoshen Partner, Professor Robin Teigland, Chalmers University of Technology and Board Professional, and I have pursued a two year academic and empirical research on the requirements of Boards Leadership of AI.  We found some unique insights on how boards can, without losing themselves in details or in technical jargon, move into the future of corporate governance.

To increase the impact, we decided to share our results in a bookAI Leadership for Boards – The Future of Corporate Governancewhich also holds guiding questions that can help boards move forward as they mature.

On 25 June 2020 we held our virtual book launch webinar and were fortunate to have some of our collaborators joining us, as the President of INSEAD Directors Network and Chair on multiples, Helen Pitcher OBE, CEO of Combient Mats Agervi, one of the founding faculty of Singularity University Kathryn Myronuk and MIT scientist researching digitally savvy boards and leadership teams, Stephanie Woerner.

The research was done in collaboration of companies like Combient, a unique joint venture of 30 of the largest Nordic globally operating companies, and FCG Group, a Northern Europe Governance, Risk and Compliance Advisory and Technology Services Company. We based the insights on literature review of both academic and practitioner literature, on deep dive interviews of more than 50 board members and chairmen and AI experts, on several board workshops including note debates notes and polls of 150 board members, and on surveys of 105 board members from across the globe, including the members of the global INSEAD Directors Network.

We have collaborated with INSEAD via guidance from Professor Stanislav Shekshnia and INSEAD Directors Network President Helen Pitcher OBE and with MIT via Dr Stephanie Woerner.

During the webinar we shared insights from the research that highlighted the need for boards to engage, and we shared example of cases and related board questions for boards to ask.

Dr Stephanie Woerner shared results from their research on the impact of Digitally Savy Boards and highlighted related insights of the new research of top teams.

Our findings identified that boards need to develop two competence areas to successfully steward their firms into the new normal. They will increasingly need to learn to balance the [1] guiding of Al operational capability and [2] supervising of Al governance capability.

The areas boards need to increase their focus and ambition on are within guiding of Al operational capability: 

1) Data Strategy and Management, 

2) Digital and AI-based Innovation 

3) Developing Digital Business Ecosystem

 

within supervising of Al governance capability:

4) Data, Ethics and Black Box Decision Making

5) AI Cyber Security 

6) Leadership in Digital Business Ecosystem

In the book, we have also summarized guiding questions that can help boards move forward as they mature.

Examples of questions in guiding AI Operational Capability

Examples of questions in supervising AI Governance Capability

The academic research project “4boards.ai”, has been run under the coordination of Chalmers University of Technology and Professor Robin Teigland, with contributions from Digoshen and House of Innovation at Stockholm School of Economics, in collaboration guidance of IMIT, an educational foundation ensuring increased cooperation between academia and industry to improve research validity and speed up the uptake of the results, and with funding from Vinnova – Sweden’s Innovation Agency.

The launch webinar was recorded and can be seen here.

The presentation deck can be found here.

A longer version of this blog can be found here.