Women chairs to drive diversity across the business

This International Women’s Day 2022, Helen Pitcher OBE, IDN President shares her thoughts on the role that women chairs play as a driving force for diversity across businesses.

It is widely recognised that the two critical dimensions driving equality in the organisational and business workplace are the roles of Chairman and CEO.  Currently however, they are acting as barriers to progression, with the woeful lack of diversity in our Chairs, CEO’s and Executive Leadership populations.  The recent FTSE Women Leaders Review Feb 2022 again highlighted this issue especially in the CEO and Executive Leadership landscape.

“The number of women in the very top job, that is the CEO remains flat and stubbornly low, and there is much more to do on Executive Committees.”

The annual Female FTSE Board Report by Cranfield University shows a positive gender progression at the NED Board level, but throws into stark relief the lack of progress on gender equality in the C-Suite, with the female Chairman leadership of our Boards at 11% in the FTSE 100 and 14% in the FTSE 250 and with only 8% female CEOs across the FTSE 350.  Additionally, female participation in executive leadership has flatlined at 13.7% in the FTSE 100 and 11.2% in the FTSE 250.

We are relying on traditional and slow solutions to solve an unsustainable situation; we need to employ spiralling creativity and innovation to drive change.  This should be a revolution of action, thought and imagination to break the mold and learn new ways of thinking and acting.

The classic rationalisation to the lack of progression for women in CEO, Executive Committees and Senior Leadership roles is the ‘supply deficiency.’  The research done by Assistant Professor Shirley Lu (Harvard Business School) indicates that we could be waiting a long time for the ‘supply side’ environment to change voluntarily.  At the same time, we have the insight from the Cranfield Report of the many capable female leaders who are around, ready and able to fulfil these most senior roles.

While the average tenure of CEO’s at 5 years, provides an insight into their short-term focus, there is little excuse for Chairman to ignore this inequality with their generational stewardship of the business.

In a recent article I suggested that Quotas was the only way to break this log jam, starting with the role of the Chairman at 40%, in order to drive diversity throughout our companies.  The female Chairs are available, ready and waiting for these appointments as demonstrated by the Cranfield Report.

It is time to act, and let’s not kid ourselves that ‘voluntary’ action alone will solve this issue.  The original 2011 Davis Review ‘Women on Boards’ was commissioned and driven by the Government who were concerned about the slow rate of progress of women onto Boards.  It did not spontaneously emerge for companies, the FRC or Companies industry bodies seeking to drive change.

The FTSE Women Leaders Review which is supported by Government and builds on the work, and success, of the Davies and Hampton-Alexander Reviews, has recognised this dilemma.  The Review has set a new recommendation for the Senior Leadership of the FTSE 350 business.  Namely, that a women should be in at least one of the most senior roles in a FTSE 350 business by 2025.  Those roles are the Chair, Senior Independent Director, CEO or CFO.  While this is a good first move, it fails to recognise the dominance of the Chair and CEO roles as the primary driving force for diversity across our businesses.

The Chairman and CEOs have had their chance to progress voluntarily, and they have failed.  It is now time for Governments, Regulators, Female Chairs, NEDs and the Diversity Lobbying Bodies, to say enough is enough, the time for substantive action to break the behavioural anchors has arrived.  Only an immediate progress on the levels of Women Chairman will drive out this inequality of female CEO’s and Leadership Executives across our business landscape.  I would be delighted to see the FTSE Women Leaders Review Recommendation drive a significant upward movement to a 40% target of women Chairs, I remain vigilant however, as to what will be achieved by the end of 2025.

IDN celebrates International Women’s Day 2022

Over 50% of IDN’s board members and ambassadors are women

This March 2022, INSEAD Directors Network (IDN) celebrates International Women’s Day.

In line with INSEAD’s commitment to cultivating a community that pursues equity, exemplifies inclusion, and cherishes diversity, IDN’s board embraces gender diversity.

As of 8 March 2022, four out of the eight IDN board members (including our President, Helen Pitcher, Helen Wiseman, Pamela Ravasio and Karen Loon) are female.

Further, following the recent appointment of Mary Antenen as our IDN Swiss Ambassador, 12 of our 20 IDN ambassadors (60%) are women.

Why is greater board diversity important for organisations?

  • It makes business sense. To date, academic and business research has focused on the business case for greater board diversity and have sought to demonstrate a correlation between board diversity (principally gender) and greater financial performance. This includes a broad range of areas, including financial position/performance, public disclosure, socially responsible behaviours, firm decisions, philanthropy, reputation, and innovation.[1]In 2020, a study in Australia by Curtin University took this a step further and found a causal link between greater numbers of women on boards and in leadership and better financial performance.
  • Stakeholders expect it – In line with the global focus on stakeholder capitalisation and sustainability, investors increasingly expect organisations to have greater board diversity. For example, in the past 12 months, several asset managers have updated their proxy voting requirements on gender diversity to now cover listed companies in some markets in Asia. Further, increasingly more governments, regulators, professional organisations and advocacy groups have released regulations and guidelines which encourage improvements in the pipeline of available diverse candidates for boards. These include a greater focus on disclosure of board diversity policies and reporting measurable progress in improving board diversity.

Yet, whilst women are estimated to hold 19.7% of board seats globally, a 2.8% increase from 2019, progress has been slow and inconsistent. Further, according to Deloitte, only 6.7% of board chairs are women, and only 5% hold the CEO role.

While many argue that it is important to have at least 30% women on board, having greater diversity without a focus on board dynamics will not necessarily lead to greater performance.

Board chairs and other directors also need to create inclusive cultures that allow healthy discussion and dialogue in a safe space.

How can IDN members support greater diversity in the boardroom and #breakthebias?

Create the right culture and board dynamics

  • Invest time in group dynamics and board development. For boards to be effective, it is vital to create the right environment and dynamics in the boardroom. In our IDN webinar on Positive Board Dynamics and Coaching: Key to Superior Performance held on 8 July 2021, Professor Vincent Dominé of INSEAD highlighted that “collective behaviour at the board level has an 800% greater impact on a firm’s performance than the characteristics of individual directors”, according to the benefits of boards working effectively as a team. Emphasising the importance of having psychological safety in the boardroom, Professor Domine highlighted that investing time in group dynamics and board development is essential.
  • Adopt Fair Process Leadership. Another framework that supports better board dynamics is Fair Process Leadership. Many IDP attendees would be familiar with the importance of having Fair Process Leadership in the boardroom. As Professor Ludo van der Heyden of INSEAD argues: “the sustained practice of fair process leads to greater value creation for a corporation’s stakeholders and increases the trust that society awards the business. Fairness is not an option: it is fairness for the board and ultimately business performance.” Using the FPL framework in the boardroom will support greater board effectiveness.

Grow the pipeline of female directors

  • Mentor aspiring and new female directors. The journey to becoming a director is often opaque. IDN’s experience is that board mentors play a key role in supporting the successful transition of senior executives and new directors into their roles. As one of our IDN mentees said in 2020: “Normally it takes years to come up the NED learning curve…and a few mistakes along the way. My mentor saved me a year or two easily.”
  • Encourage greater diversity in your organisations – Understand from the management of the organisations where you are a board member how they manage diversity. Ask them questions such as: how does greater diversity align with your organisational purpose, lived values, and behaviours? What are some of the inhibitors, both conscious and unconscious, inhibiting change? How is greater diversity embedded into all areas of your organisation, including beyond talent management? And are your organisation’s senior management (especially women) encouraged to take on external board roles as part of their leadership development programmes?


Karen Loon IDP-C is an IDN Board Member

[1] For example, refer to the overviews of recent research by Kagzi and Guha (2018) at https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JSMA-01-2017-0002/full/html, and Salma and Qian (2021) at https://www.journalofbusiness.us/index.php/site/article/view/182.

Get to know Tony Whiteman, IDN Board Member

Tony Whiteman IDP-C who joined the IDN Board in late 2021, will be supporting our IDN members. Get to know him!

After growing up and being educated in New Zealand, I was given a one-way ticket to the UK to see the world. It was a fun journey experiencing London life, working in an advertising business and the obligatory ‘live/work’ in a pub. Sport has always been a big part of my life and it was rugby which took me to Luxembourg in 1993. I became an FX Dealer and met my wife during enjoyable years in Luxembourg. In 1997 we moved to London where I transitioned into the project management, consultancy field in the City operating independently. After completing an MBA, I embarked on a couple of roles in Interim Management for a corporate services provider and a community website for Physiotherapists. On the private investment side, I developed a small residential property portfolio and helped develop a wholesale insurance broker.

By 2004 our family had doubled (Oscar & Chloe), and we decided to relocate back to Luxembourg to enjoy the more sedate family life. After three years as Business Development Director for the corporate services provider in Luxembourg I was approached to act as an Independent Director for a number of Blackstone investment vehicles. The relationship with Blackstone has continued and I am currently involved with the Private Equity, Private Debt and
Alternative Asset Management areas as an  Independent Director. Over the years I have been engaged as an Independent Director to provide governance for a number of international investment, corporate and family office groups (including Deutsche Bank, Whirlpool, Abbot, SurveyMonkey). In 2014 I completed the INSEAD International Directors Program and became an IDP-C.

I have continued to invest in private residential assets, engaged in personal private equity investment and providing seed capital for a small number of Luxembourg based startups.

The family has grown with Sophie & Hannah joining us. While the rugby stopped in 2009, I managed to continue competitive cricket representing and captaining Luxembourg till 2021. Golf is now the challenge, its way more difficult than I thought it would be so will keep me focused for many years
to come.

While a capitalist society is based on the financially fueled demand/supply functions there is still a real need for community volunteers. I have been involved with both the cricket club and federation committees, assisted the rugby club and have recently helped create the Australia, New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Luxembourg (ANZCCL). Also started mentoring potential Independent Directors via
the Luxembourg Institute of Directors.

With the family growing up and reducing the day-to-day need for Mum & Dad to be involved I was happy to consider being a candidate for the IDN Board. I look forward to learning the operations of the IDN Board and supporting the association in developing good governance around the globe via the INSEAD Directors Network.

Introducing Sadia Khan, IDN Award Winner

In October 2021, INSEAD Directors Network (“IDN”) announced the three winners of the IDN Awards 2021.

The winner of IDN’s Good Governance Award, new in 2021 for excellence in governance, was Sadia Khan, Commissioner, Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan, MBA 1995, and IDP-C.

Sadia has pursued a versatile career path traversing investment banking, financial regulation, family businesses and entrepreneurship across three continents. In addition, she has been a passionate advocate of corporate governance for the past two decades. In 2018, she published The Corporate Governance Landscape of Pakistan, a historical anthology of work already accomplished under the realm of corporate governance as well as a reference book for future regulators, educators, and practitioners.

While at the ADB, Sadia helped implement corporate governance reforms in a number of member countries in South East Asia. As a senior member of the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan, she was responsible for implementing the first Code of Corporate Governance in Pakistan. Since then, she has served as a member of various Task Force/Committees responsible for Revising the Code of Corporate Governance and introducing Guidelines for State Owned Enterprises.

As a corporate governance practitioner, she has served on various boards as an Independent Director. Sadia is also the immediate past global President of the INSEAD Alumni Association and has served as a member of many committees. In addition, she regularly contributes at international conferences and events as a speaker and panellist on issues ranging from multiculturalism to women entrepreneurs.

We recently asked Sadia for her views on several areas.

1. You have had an illustrious career, working in investment banking, financial regulation, family businesses and entrepreneurship across three continents. You have also written extensively about corporate governance, and you are a corporate governance practitioner. What led to your interest in corporate governance?

My corporate governance journey began over 25 years ago when I was working with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila.  The Asian Financial Crises of 1997 brought into focus the important role of corporate governance in averting widespread crises in confidence in financial institutions and the corporate sector. As a result, all the program lending designed by the ADB for its member countries in the aftermath of this crises had a very important component of corporate governance.

Some years later, when I returned to Pakistan to take up a senior position with the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), the apex regulator of the Corporate sector, one of the first tasks given to me was to finalize and implement the first Code of Corporate Governance for Pakistan.  This was done in 2002 and ever since then, I have been closely involved with the subsequent iterations of the code and its implementation as an educator, regulator and practitioner. I decided to document this in a book entitled “Corporate Governance Landscape of Pakistan” published by Oxford University press in 2017.

2. What lead to your interest in taking on independent director positions?

When I initially left public service in 2005, I was approached by many corporate entities in Pakistan to serve as an independent director on their board. They needed somebody familiar with corporate governance policies and practices to steer their companies towards better implementation. The reputation of independence and integrity that I carried from my previous positions enabled me to play a meaningful role and I was progressively approached by more and more corporates over time. For me, it was a great opportunity to get insights into diverse sectors of our economy as well as help implement corporate governance policies that I had helped design in the first place.

I was probably amongst the first Pakistani females to serve as an independent director of large listed companies, even before the provision of diversity was formally introduced in the country in 2017. Incidentally the last chapter of my book on corporate governance dealt with gender diversity on boards, and is seen by many as a precursor to the regulatory provisions introduced later the same year.

3. In your view, what are some of the key factors which leads to a company or organization exhibiting “good governance”?

In my opinion the “tone from the top” matters a lot and if the board itself and senior management attempts to implement sound corporate governance practices in letter and spirit, that itself helps to inculcate the necessary corporate culture towards compliance with best practices. Unfortunately, most adherence to regulatory provisions vis a vis corporate governance becomes a mere box ticking exercise for the compliance departments of the corporates.

Corporate governance centers around the board, and the board is as good as the people serving on it. Director selection is therefore of the utmost importance to ensure that they have the right level of knowledge, experience, integrity, and independence to make decisions in the interest of all stakeholders.

4. What are some of the areas which companies and their directors should focus on in the coming few years?

Apart from being knowledgeable about governance practices, Directors need to continuously educate themselves about emerging trends effecting the corporate sector and indeed the world around them. As such Sustainability or ESG issues need to feature prominently in all board discussions, whether in terms of the corporates own environmental footprint or in terms of its larger role as a member of the community in which it operates. Formalized policies and action plans for Diversity and Inclusion are needed if the companies are to attract and retain the best talent and achieve operational efficiency. Finally, Technology, the threats and opportunities emanating out of its pervasive and expanding use has to remain in focus in all board deliberations.

5. What is your advice to aspiring directors? What should they do to get themselves board-ready?

Most progressive jurisdictions have already recognized the need for diversity in board decision making to achieve optimum outcomes. Board directorships are therefore potentially available for a much broader spectrum of diverse skill sets than in the past. At the same time, much greater responsibilities have been placed on the board directors to play their role in the implementation of sound corporate governance practices as well as comply with the legal and regulatory frameworks within which the institutions operate. As such, those desirous of playing a role in the highest forum of decision making within these institutions need to prepare themselves by demonstrating the appropriate level of knowledge and skills as well as relevant experience to facilitate their induction. They have to take the initiative of obtaining the appropriate director training, build up their portfolios and make it part of their career aspirations, while utilizing the appropriate networking forums at their disposal. Once in a position to become change agents on any board, they have to make sure that decision making is in the hands of a diverse group of innovative minds that not only improves shareholder value, but makes this world a better place.

As told to Karen Loon, IDN Board Member

The top must-read IDN blogs of 2021

Over the holiday season, many of us are relaxing, resting and reflecting on 2021 and what 2022 may bring for us, including in our board roles.

Here are six of our top must-read IDN blogs of 2021 that may be useful for you and your colleagues.


1. Governance of Corporate Renewal and Sustainability

Sustainability is increasingly moving to the top of many company agendas. What are the better practices that are emerging? Learn more from Ludo Van der Heyden, Emeritus Professor of Technology and Operations Management, and the INSEAD Chaired Professor of Corporate Governance at INSEAD, and Mats Magnusson, Professor in Product Innovation Engineering of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Positive board dynamics

2. Positive Board Dynamics and Coaching: Key to Superior Performance

Given that the impact of a board’s functioning as a team is a more significant predictor of corporate performance than individual directors’ backgrounds, skills and experience, it’s time for boards to spend more time focusing on their group dynamics and for boards and directors to dedicate time for coaching and mentoring.

Vincent H. Dominé, Adjunct Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD and IDN Board Member and NED Helen Wiseman IDP-C share their perspectives.

3. Best practices of independent directors in family owned-firms

Leading independent directors understand family board dynamics, build relationships with all board directors, and build a coalition of independent directors. Learn more from Martin Roll, Distinguished Fellow (Family Business) and Entrepreneur in Residence, INSEAD and Xavier Bedoret IDP-C,  IDN Belgium Ambassador, NED and Advisor.

Best practices for boards in a hybrid world

4. Chair Best Practice Exchange

In an inspiring webinar session, Professor Stanislav Shekshnia, Affiliate Professor INSEAD presented the findings of his latest research around Chair best practices, with comments by IDN President, Helen Pitcher OBE

5. Board best practices in an era of hybrid corporate governance

What are the current board best practices across different governance situations, different ownership forms and jurisdictions, and different industries and maturity of companies? Over 100 IDN members had the opportunity to share their international experiences of best practices of hybrid corporate governance in a webinar facilitated by Liselotte Engstam IDP-C.

Improving your board effectiveness – Get a mentor

6. Why every aspiring director should consider a mentor

IDN’s INsights Director Mentoring Programme pairs aspiring INSEAD alumni directors who are early in their board careers with some of INSEAD’s most senior alumni and influential business leaders. Here they share the lessons that go both ways. IDN members, Sreekumar Puthen Thermedam and Naji Majdalani share what they have learned from each other.

Happy Holidays and we look forward to seeing you in 2022!

Introducing Lale Saral Develioglu – IDN Award winner

Winner IDN Award 2021 (Outstanding Mandate, For-Profit category)

In October 2021, INSEAD Directors Network (“IDN”) announced the three winners of the IDN Awards 2021.

Two of the three awards were given to IDN members with Outstanding Mandates during the year. Each has an outstanding track record and has demonstrated the highest levels of integrity.

Lale Saral Develioglu, IDP-C and Board Member, Anadolu Efes (Brewery, Turkey) was the winner of the for-profit category. Lale recently shared with us about her illustrious board career and her advice for aspiring directors.

Tell us about yourself?

Born and raised in Istanbul, I am an engineer by education and way of thinking. Yet my expertise is on the business side: marketing, strategy and business development. I had a rewarding executive career for 26 years in leading multinational companies like Unilever, Turkcell and Pladis, across various geographic regions and finally a global leadership role based in UK.

I am a board director since 2011 on a diverse range of boards in terms of ownership structures, company maturity and industry sectors, including telecommunications, consumer goods, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, gaming and customer service in Turkey, Middle East, CIS countries and Europe.

I am passionate about driving customer centricity, corporate governance and diversity-particularly women presence- in business. I am also a technology enthusiast and angel investor in start-ups in Turkey and USA. I devote a lot of my time to mentoring in various organizations, including Women on Board Turkey, Endeavor and INSEAD Directors’ Network.

Finally, I have also written a book titled “Karar Verdim” (“I Decided”), a memoir and personal development book on effective decision making.

What do you most enjoy about being a director?

It’s an opportunity for continuous learning and adding value to companies at a strategic level, while also creating synergies across them when you are on multiple boards.

I also value the role modeling aspect of my position for all women in business. I would like all women to think “If she did, so can I”.

You are a passionate mentor and regularly share your career advice to younger women. One piece of advice you have said to young women is “Embracing change and challenge is the key.” How did you prepare yourself to take on the challenge of transitioning from an executive career to become a full-time business consultant and board director?

The first quartile of my life was spent with education, like most of us. My second quartile was spent in corporate life. As I neared 50, I wanted to spend the third quartile with a new balance between “giving direction”, “giving a hand” and “giving care”. I had already been preparing for this next phase of my life and the balanced quartile idea really motivated me for the change. I am now giving direction, working as a board director and strategic advisor. I am giving a hand by devoting time to non-profit organizations, start-ups, university students and my mentees. Finally, I also have more time for family, friends and my personal development.

What advice do you have for aspiring female directors?

  1. DEFINE YOURSELF: Define your strengths as a director (not as a manager) and what value you can add to the board room. If the list is not strong enough, define the gaps and prepare a self development plan. Find the intersection of what you are good at and what organizations you would like to be part of.
  2. BUILD: Don’t wait till your executive career is over to plan for a director career. I demanded executive director roles in the group companies. I attended the INSEAD Directors Programme and got the certificate, besides a local director certificate program. I convinced my company to allow me for a NED role while I was still active as an executive. Also continue to read, listen, watch and keep yourself updated. You don’t want to be an outdated director when the role comes.
  3. CONNECT: “Lean In” as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg had written in her book with the same title. Build you network and trusting contacts as a potential value adding director.

Introducing Doris Albisser – IDN Award Winner

Winner IDN Award 2021 (Outstanding Mandate, Not-For-Profit category)

In October 2021, INSEAD Directors Network (“IDN”) announced the three winners of the IDN Awards 2021.

Two of the three awards were given to IDN members with Outstanding Mandates during the year. Each has an outstanding track record and has demonstrated the highest levels of integrity.

Doris Albisser IDP-C, Member of the International Senate, SOS Children’s Villages, and President, SOS Children’s Villages Switzerland, was the winner of the not-for-profit category. Doris recently shared with us about her illustrious board career and her advice for aspiring directors.

You have had an illustrious career, from a translator to a CEO and entrepreneur. You have worked with many international organisations and are now an experienced board chair and director across several sectors. Tell us about your journey to becoming a director?

My entire CEO and board life was an enriching learning journey across industry sectors and countries. From building up a start-up through a business process outsourcing, internationalization through organic and inorganic growth up to its trade sale. During this journey you kind of live through a full circle, including dealing with crisis situations. As an entrepreneur you strive for the best – always go the extra mile and never give up.

I moved into the joint role of CEO and managing director, when we founded CLS Communication in 1997 – a technology driven language & translation solutions provider.  In the beginning the board role was more demanding than the CEO role, since I first had to become familiar with corporate governance. As for executive functions I attended various corporate governance programs – also in order to know what I am doing approximately right and what exactly wrong. I found those programs very enriching from the content side but also from learning from peers across the world.

One common thread throughout my life was and still is lifelong learning on the job and through continuous education. (Doris Albisser)

Currently, I am focusing on board mandates as chair or member, as this is a fascinating role given my professional journey so far. Hence, I continue my learning journey.

What do you most enjoy about being a director?

In a director or chair role you act as a sparring partner to the CEO and the executive team. The roles are clearly defined. Personally, I find it fascinating when you can enable and empower a CEO and the executive team to shine. Each company and organization has its own opportunities and challenges. As a chair you have to make sure you lead and gear group dynamics in the board, ensure fair process leadership is in place.

Each board mandate offers a learning journey for both the organization and the director. It is a win-win situation.

As a director you have to be up-to-date with business innovations, new business models (incl. ecosystems), digitization and agile organizations to name a few.

To me it is of prime importance that the chair and the CEO ensure a solid corporate and organizational culture is being lived across all levels. Culture has to be based on shared values. It is the DNA of a company or an organization.

Apart from ensuring best practice in governance – boards’ primary task – they are required to be familiar with trends arising on the horizon, in an ideal situation they anticipate them.

Last but not least, boards have to oversee that sustainability goals (ESG) are reached. The far-reaching decisions boards have to take requires them to be familiar with and savvy on the above listed topics. They cannot be delegated to digital natives and the younger generation.

As a result, as a chair or director continuous board education and ongoing training on the various topics is important to stay tuned and relevant.

How does your role as a board chair and director complement your work as a CEO and entrepreneur, and vice versa?

The roles are different, yet complementary.

As CEO my role was predominantly operational, whereas as chair or director you have a more strategic and an oversight role. The link both roles should adopt is the strategic part. A board cannot define a strategy without active involvement of the CEO and the executive team. Therefore, especially the CEO must be able to have a strong strategic view.

The role of boards has changed substantially over the last years. A board should act as an enabler, a sparring partner versus the traditional role of an “administrator” as was predominantly the case in the past.

Personally, I benefited from both roles – as a CEO and as a chair/director – bearing in mind that you have to know which hat you are wearing.

The CEO background helped me understand the challenges a CEO is facing and proactively assuming my chair role accordingly. As a chair you have to listen and reflect first before moving into action.

As a CEO you are moving more in the acting mode.

As a chair/director you have a clear information deficit compared to a CEO, who lives and works in the company full time. Hence, even with extensive board experience, we have to make sure we do not become overconfident and in the worst case clueless.

From your experience as a board chair, what type of attributes do not-for-profits look for when evaluating potential board directors?

Not-for-profit organizations are very purpose driven. It is therefore important for a new member to fully identify with the NPO’s purpose and truly love working in such an environment.

An NPO can benefit substantially by running an organization with an entrepreneurial spirit. I usually compare it to family businesses existing for generations. NPOs need to generate “profits” to invest into new programs and enhance existing ones. They need to follow the trends their donors do. Generally, this means attracting also a younger generation of donors – hence more digital programs.

When attracting new board members, it is a plus for the candidate to have experience in the for-profit sector. NPOs like for-profits have to ensure diversity in terms of competences, gender, experience, backgrounds in various industries. In NPOs, too, boards have to mirror the executive teams regarding their skill sets.

Last but not least, as with for-profit companies, candidates must have a solid value system such as trust – integrity – reliability and bring along a “pinch” of curiosity.

What advice do you have for directors who wish to gain more mandates in the not-for-profit space?

Directors should look for organizations where they can fully identify with the NPO’s purpose, where they can bring an added value. Their background may come from different sectors.

Working on the board of an NPO very often is a question of having one’s heart and soul in it. Since NPO mandates often are pro bono, the financial aspect should therefore not play a role at all.

Taking the example of SOS Children’s Villages: What stronger purpose can you pursue than to actively contribute to children and young people to become their strongest selves, to ensure they have a healthy nutrition, are well-educated and grow up in a safe environment with loving care. This enables them to live an independent, self-sufficient life and contribute to their communities’ ongoing development and well-being. To me, this is a highly noble and rewarding mandate.


As told to Karen Loon, IDN Board Member.

INSEAD IDN Q3 2021 Board Position Announcements

51 board appointments for INSEAD Directors Network members

25 October 2021

Members Board & Corporate Governance Positions Announcement – June to August 2021 (Q3)

INSEAD’s International Directors Network, IDN is proudly sharing the recent appointments for the quarter ended 31 August 2021 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 51 new board positions in 22 countries, summing up to 497 position announcements since 2017.

Warmest congratulations to Lale Saral Develioglu and Doris Albisser for receiving this year’s INSEAD IDN Outstanding Mandate Awards!  Lale received the For-Profit outstanding mandate for her appointment to the board of Anadolu Efes in December, 2020.  Doris received the Non-Profit outstanding mandate for her appointment as a member of the International Senate of SOS Children’s Villages in June 2020.

Who will be on the list for next year??  Please keep us appraised of your board appointments for our quarterly announcements to be in the running!  And also to share the successes of our IDN network.

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 achievements 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 1,556 IDP and IDPB participants, with 1,221 certified IDP-C/ IDBP-C directors, and our International Board Network IDN of INSEAD Alumni of over 1,500 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

Celine Abecassis-Moedas – May 2021 – Non-executive Director at Lectra (HQ France, Listed) and July 2021 – Non-executive Director at Greenvolt (Listed, HQ Portugal)
Noelle Ahlberg Kleiterp – June 2021- Board Member and Chair of Remuneration and Ethics Committees at Healthnet TPO (NGO, HQ The Netherlands)
Livia Aliberti Amidani – May 2021 – Non-executive Director at Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (Private, HQ Italy) and Non-executive Director at Messaggerie Italiane (Private, HQ Italy)
Manuel Baldauff – June 2021 – Non-executive Director at Banque Raiffeisen (Private, HQ Luxembourg)
Trent Bartlett –  July 2021 – Chairman at Rocky Bay (Not for Profit, HQ Australia)
William Blomme – August 2021 – Non-executive board member at Welvaartfonds (Private, HQ Belgium) and July 2021 – Board member at Cornelis-Adriaenssens (Private, HQ Belgium)
Roberta Casali – July 2021 – Non Executive Director, Chair of Remuneration Committee, Member of Related-parties Committee at MOBY SpA (Private, HQ Italy)
Katia Ciesielska – August 2021– Independent Director  at Société d’Investissement Hôteliers Français SA (Private, HQ France) and Independent Director at Société de Management et Financement Hôtelier Français SAS (Private, HQ France)
Timothy Cosulich – July 2021 – Chairman at YPO Singapore (NGO, HQ Singapore)
Marie-Pierre Dhers – July 2021- Non-Executive Board Director at TwingTec AG (private, HQ Zurich, Switzerland)
Diego Diaz – June 2021 – President of the Supervisory Board, at Institut de Formation Ferroviaire (IFF), (Private, HQ Rabat, Morocco) and board member at SIANA (High speed train maintenance) (Private, HQ Tangiers Morocco)
Giulia Fitzpatrick – July 2021- Board Chair of Quintet Private Bank (Private, HQ Switzerland) AG
Ioannis Georgoulas – July 2021 – Non-executive Director at TFI Markets Ltd (Private, HQ Cyprus) and Chairman at ACEMPI (Association of Cyprus Electronic Money & Payments Institutions) (NGO, HQ Cyprus)
Jean-Marie Greindl – August 2021 – Non-executive Director at Opaline SA (Private, HQ Switzerland)
Fernand Grulms – April 2021 – Independent Director at Mizuho Trust and Banking (Private, HQ Luxembourg) S.A.
Jean-Christophe Kugler – October 2020 – Advisory Board Member at Ascendance Flight Technologies (Private, HQ Toulouse, France)
Colin Low – July 2021 – Independent Non- Executive Director & Chairman Remuneration Committee, Jason Marine Electronics Group (Listed, HQ Singapore)
Ana Maria Mihaescu – August 2021 – Non-executive Director at NEPI Rockcastle Plc (Listed, HQ Isle of Man)
Viviane Monges – July 2021 – Chair of the Supervisory Board of EUROAPI (Private, HQ Paris France)
Yves Poullet – June 2021 –  Independent Non-Executive Director at Helora Hospitals Network (Private, HQ Belgium)
Hagen Graf v. Schweinitz – July 2021 – Member of the Board of Directors at the Armenian Institute of Directors (NGO, HQ Armenia)
Thomas Seale – July 2021 – Chairman at Oddo-BHF Belgique (Private, Belgium) and Member of Board at Lumyna Marshall Wace SICAV (Private, Luxembourg)

IDN Members – Board Directors

Richard Alabaster – August 2021 – Non-Executive Board Director at eQuip-T, Inc. (Private, HQ USA)
Andrey Bogdanov – August 2021 – Co-chair at World Economic Forum New Champions South Africa Chapter Board (HQ South Africa)
Ian Brown –  June 2021 – Independent Non-executive Director at Biolidics Limited (Listed, Singapore)
Cedric Brusselmans – July 2021 – Non-Executive Director at Natagora (HQ Belgium)
Pavel Erochkine – July 2021 – Board Member and Chair for Strategic Alliances at Entrepreneurs Organisation, Portugal Chapter (Private, HQ Portugal) and Vice-Chairman at St. Julian’s School Parents’ Association (Private, HQ Portugal)
Raphael Felenbok – August 2021 – Board member at Space4Good B.V. (Private, HQ The Netherlands)
Carlos Fonseca – June 2020 – Lasell University Board of Directors member and Board of Trustees 2021 (Private, HQ USA)
Marta Gomez-Llorente – June 2021 – Board Director, Strategic Advisory Board Private at MYCP (Martin del Yerro Cirujanos Plásticos), (Private, HQ Spain)
Rob Goudswaard – August 2021 – Chair, Advisory Board at  Revolut Payments Australia (Private, HQ Australia)
Nils Granath – June 2021 – Board Director at Sulzer & Schmid Laboratories AG (Private, HQ Switzerland) and Board Director at Perspective Robotics (“Fotokite”) AG (Private,  HQ Switzerland)
Lisa Marie Kar Yee Djeng –  July 2021- Council Member at HKSAR Government Lord Wilson United World Colleges Scholarship Fund Council (Government, HQ Hong Kong), August 2020 – Appeal Board Member of the Appeal Board of Hong Kong Travel Industry Council – (NGO, Hong Kong)
Maria Charash Koundina – June-2021, Non-Executive Director and Chair of Audit Committee at Arrow Exploration (Listed, HQ Canada)
Martin McCourt – July 2021 – Board member and member of the Compensation Committee  at ComAp a.s (Private, HQ Prague, Czech Republic) and Chairman of the Compensation Committee at IDnow gmbH (Private, HQ Germany)
Valentin Mihov – June 2021 – Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Bulgarian Development Bank (Private, HQ Bulgaria)
Lucien Ong – June 2021 – President of INSEAD NAA Philippines (Private, HQ Philippines)
Carsten Pingel – June 2021 – Board member at Certainly (Private, HQ Denmark)
Tamara Singh – July 2021 – Board member and Treasurer at People Centered Internet (Charity, HQ USA)
Drew Watson – April 2021 – Board member at Holt-Smithson Foundation (HQ USA)

Previous announcements and more information

Previous board position announcements by shared by IDN;
July 2021 April 2021 December 2020 September 2020 March 2020 October 2019 July 2019  February 2019  November 2018 July 2018 April 2018 January 2018  October 2017

For organisations interested in partnering with IDN, please contact IDN President, Helen Pitcher OBE, at [email protected]

On Behalf of the INSEAD International Directors’ Network Board,

Helen Wiseman, 
IDP-C, IDN & NAA Australia Board Member,
NED at multiple companies
[email protected]

For more information about:

How to become a partner of IDN, contact our President, Helen Pitcher here
INSEAD Directors’ Network, click here.
INSEAD Corporate Governance Centre here.

Follow INSEAD IDN on social media;
INSEAD IDN on LinkedIn
INSEAD IDN on Twitter

Announcing the Winners of the 2021 IDN Awards

22 October 2021

Winners of the 2021 IDN Awards

The INSEAD Directors Network (IDN) is an official Global Alumni Club, whose mission is to foster excellent corporate governance through networking, communication and self-improvement.

Our more than 1,500 Alumni work on boards around the world, sharing knowledge and managing businesses across all industrial sectors. They also provide invaluable support for Not-for-Profit organisations.

We want to celebrate this success by recognising some of our impressive members.

Outstanding Mandates

Winners were selected from over 100 mandates, shared via the quarterly IDN Board Position Announcements. This is the second year IDN spotlights outstanding mandates of our IDP-C members.

Selections were based on the size and importance of the organisations they represented, their global relationships and the position at the board, in combination with pursuit of INSEAD’s mission ‘Force for Good.’ Two winners were selected, each of which has an outstanding track record and has demonstrated the highest levels of integrity.

The winners are:

Non-Profit Category

Doris Albisser

IDP-C 10 2015

Member of International Senate

SOS Children’s Villages


SOS Children’s Villages Switzerland


For Profit Category

Lale Saral Develioglu

IDP-C 7 2014

Board Member

Anadolu Efes (Brewery, Turkey)


IDN Good Governance Award

New in 2021, this award recognizes excellence in governance. Our winner was chosen from a competitive field of nominees based on two criteria: contribution to good governance and evidence of impact.

Sadia Khan

Commissioner, Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan

MBA 1995

IDP-C 17 2018


*         *         *         *         *

The IDN Award Committee comprising five members of the IDN Board worked to define the selection criteria and examined the candidates. Candidates for awards are members of IDN and exclude current and recent board members. Verifications were made by INSEAD’s Corporate Governance Centre and the winners were unanimously supported by the IDN Board.

The awards were presented at INSEAD Directors Network 2021 Annual General Management Meeting.

Thomas Seale, Chairman of the IDN Award Committee stated: “We congratulate the winners. They reflect well on IDP, INSEAD and IDN and we can be proud of their achievements.”


On behalf of the IDN Board,


The IDN Award Committee

Karen Loon, Hagen Schweinitz, Jeff Scott, Thomas Seale and Helen Wiseman.

Governance of Corporate Renewal and Sustainability

Sustainability is increasingly moving to the top of many company agendas. As a result, investors increasingly require reporting on their ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) agenda with concrete actions to follow. What is the board’s role in guiding companies on this new path? What are the better practices that are emerging?

By Karen Loon IDP-C and IDN Board Member

In an increasingly fractured world, many of the significant global risks which the world faces relate to sustainability risks. These risks include climate action failure, human environmental damage, biodiversity loss and extreme weather. These risks, in addition to other challenges arising from the increasing adoption of technology, the pandemic and geopolitical risks are having a significant impact on companies and their boards.

What is the role of company boards to guide their companies on this new path? Further, what are some of the better practices which are emerging?

In a session facilitated by Liselotte Engstam IDP-C and IDN Board Member, INSEAD Directors Network (IDN) members, together with members of the INSEAD alumni Community Impact Challenge recently learnt more about these areas from Mats Magnusson, Professor in Product Innovation Engineering of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and Ludo Van der Heyden, Emeritus Professor of Technology and Operations Management, and the INSEAD Chaired Professor of Corporate Governance at INSEAD.

Increasing pressures require boards to better guide companies to renewal

Companies need to renew themselves more and faster than ever before.

“This renewal [is not] actually about becoming slightly better at things – it’s about changing things quite radically,” noted Mats Magnusson.

These changes are not only due to digital – organisations also need to address new values, with sustainability being one of them.

Mats added that various studies by academics and consultants have shown that companies have reacted differently to these challenges, with some trying to innovate, and others struggling because of the present pandemic. However, what is common to most of them is that companies realise that if they just continue the way they have been doing things the last few years, they will not be successful in the future. As a result, there is a huge need for innovation.

“Actually, a large part of that innovation has to address sustainability”, he added, something which is not new to boards.

Sustainability and climate change require all companies to revisit their purpose, strategy and business model.

Based on research, most board members and directors agree that they spend a lot of time discussing governance about risk, regulation, and reporting, which is necessary.

However, there are several aspects that boards are not discussing enough. These includes sustainability, as well as culture and new technologies. Finally, boards need to spend more time on their strategy, value creation disruption, innovation.

These are not new findings; however, boards do need to improve their level of discussion on these areas to ensure that they are addressing them.


The importance of sensing, pivoting and aligning by boards

Three dynamic capabilities that boards can adopt are sensing, pivoting and aligning. Both sensing and pivoting have a positive correlation with innovation performance. Further, aligning positively impacts firm performance. However, pivoting can also harm firm performance.

Areas which boards can work on:

  • Sensing – Look at the external world and understand what is changing and impacting us, whether technology, business, customers or the environment. Become better at scanning the horizon for changes with an open mind. Observe changes in the broader environment, not only in your own industry but adjacent and completely different industries. For example, technology-wise, this may mean that companies need to consider completely new technologies that they have not considered before. However, Mats notes that “what we should not address is to focus on our purpose. If we focus on our purpose, then we’ll have some kind of limitation once we are actually looking.”
  • Pivoting – is about taking the right opportunities, taking action and daring to make strategic changes that include some form of innovation. Develop your company’s risk and opportunity profile by looking into the things disrupting your companies – perhaps new technologies, the new business models, or new companies. This information should be used to inform the company’s strategy.
  •  Aligning – This is about combining the new and the existing capabilities and business models. Find a good balance between the short-term value pressure – companies do need cash as well as longer-term value creation. It is essential to ensure that the innovation strategy is a key part of the business strategy.


Boards need to discuss their approach and capability to guide their company’s ESG agenda

Mats shared that more can be done by companies to integrate sustainability into their strategies. Of companies recently surveyed by SISU Boards:

  • Lack of integration of sustainability into strategy – Almost 45% actually do not yet integrate sustainability into their strategy. Companies need to become more granular – set goals for the sustainability action and find ways of evaluating if the things they are doing are the right ones.
  • Lack of board accountability for sustainability – As many as 60% of boards have not yet discussed how to engage and consider sustainability. For instance, should they have a committee focusing on this or several committees, and in what areas?

Boards can improve their sensing, pivoting and aligning capabilities

Boards can do more work to improve their capabilities when it comes to sustainability.

  • Sensing – 46% don’t have good processes to foresee changes and impacts on sustainability and business. Additionally, 48% don’t actively monitor new solutions that expedite their business sustainability towards their purpose.
  • Pivoting – 49% aren’t good at taking balanced risks towards ensuring corporate renewal. Further, 56% do not ensure that their strategy harnesses and reshapes the ecosystem for better sustainability and differentiation.
  • Aligning – 51% are not yet good at balancing short- and long-term value creation. In addition, 61% have not yet implemented a clear and effective innovation system, monitoring innovation activities and culture.

Board best practices to experiment with

Ludo Van der Heyden suggested some case studies and best practices for board renewal on sustainability around sensing, pivoting and aligning.

He also noted that it is important to select a modern, ambitious and humble chair, and board members. Boards should also rethink their role and focus, using Fair Process Leadership as support.

It is critical to structure the board and the organisation for sensing, developing the capability of timely pivoting, and continuously aligning and re-aligning.

Finally, it is vital to have collective leadership at the board level, and that it is proactive and engaged.


INSEAD Directors Network (“IDN”) – An INSEAD Global Club of International Board Directors

Our Mission is to foster excellent Corporate Governance through networking, communication and self-improvement. IDN has 1,500 members from 80 countries, all Alumni from different INSEAD graduations as MBA, EMBA, GEMBA, and IDP-C. We meet in live IDN webinars and meet-ups arranged by our IDN Ambassadors based in 25 countries. Our IDN website holds valuable corporate governance knowledge in our IDN blog, and we share insights with our LinkedIn and Twitter followers. We highlight our member through quarterly sharing of their new board appointments, and once a year, we give out IDN Awards to prominent board accomplishments. We provide a peer-to-peer mentoring and board vacancy service, and we come together two times per year at the INSEAD Directors Forum arranged by ICGC. We also engage with ICGC on joint research.

INSEAD Corporate Governance Centre (“ICGC”)

Established in 2010, the INSEAD Corporate Governance Centre (ICGC) has been actively engaged in making a distinctive contribution to the knowledge and practice of corporate governance. The ICGC harnesses faculty expertise across multiple disciplines to teach and research on the challenges of boards of directors in an international context and to foster a global dialogue on governance issues with the ultimate goal to develop boards for high-performance governance. Visit ICGC website: https://www.insead.edu/centres/corporate-governance