The Boards' Silent Partners Go Public

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The unforgiving scrutiny by Federal regulators of such behemoths as AOL Time Warner, Arthur Anderson, Enron, and Global Crossing, the use of board consultants is a highly-touted best practice.

Though board consulting services historically have received little media attention, they have been routine practice in both the corporate and non-profit sector for decades. But now, with the unforgiving scrutiny by Federal regulators of such behemoths as AOL Time Warner, Arthur Anderson, Enron, and Global Crossing, the use of board consultants is a highly touted best practice, not only for those companies who are trying to recover from self-destruction, but also for those who are determined to hold on to and increase the strength of their twin lifelines -- shareholder support and consumer reputation.

Typically, board consultants are hired to provide legal and financial services --Compliance, Audit and Executive Compensation. But for those companies whose boards serve as a linchpin and who favor a broad and long-term perspective while dealing with current issues, board consultants can provide other valuable services to complement those they provide in the legal and financial arena. These may include Board Recruitment, Orientation, Assessment, Governance, Succession Planning, Strategy Development, and Risk Management.

According to Deborah Wallace, a seasoned board consultant who has two degrees from Harvard University and twenty years’ worth of experience in management and organizational consulting “Board consultants are sort of like cabinet members. We become close advisors and confidantes who have no vested interest other than that the organization succeed in the eyes of its shareholders, peers and the public. As advisors, we bring expertise and a unique perspective that may be lacking at the top. We make sure the board has access to the information it needs for sound decision making. We keep on top of events in the rest of the organization that might impact boardroom decisions. And because we’re no longer cloistered in the boardroom, we can build relationship freely elsewhere in the organization, which is invaluable in accomplishing the board’s objectives.

While most board consultants work diligently with their clients to arrive at the best possible solution for the problem at hand, the most skilled will simultaneously pay attention to making accountability more transparent, roles less ambiguous, and director professionalism more professional. Ms Wallace points out that “When we hear the term board of directors, most of us think first of fiduciary responsibility, as we should and must. But directors have responsibilities far beyond their fiduciary ones. They’re responsible for the success and development of their CEO, for working effectively with each other unencumbered by tacit agendas and power plays, and they are responsible for their own individual learning and development. For us, consideration of this larger context always illuminates the way for the issue at hand.”

For more information, please contact:

Deborah E. Wallace

Principal

Wallace Consulting Board Advisory Services

T: 617.875.7096

F: 781.259.0550

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Erika Brown
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