ICD Chapter Insights

Mar 10, 2017
Takeaways from ICD chapter events across the country

VANCOUVER // 01.27.17
Relationship of the board chair and CEO

DAVID EMERSON, PC, OBC, chair of Maple Leaf Foods Inc., Global Container Terminals and the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada; board member of New Gold Inc.; member of the Privy Council of Canada; former minister of foreign affairs, minister of industry and minister of international trade.

ROBERT PHILLIPS, QC, chair of Canadian Western Bank, Precision Drilling Corp., MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates Ltd.; lead director of West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.; board member of Canadian National Railway Co.; president of R.L. Phillips Investments Inc.

DOUGLAS WHITEHEAD, member of the board of Interfor Corp., Kal Tire Ltd. and Belkin Enterprises Ltd.; former CEO, and later chair, of Finning International Inc.

MARTIN GLYNN, chair of UBC Investment Management Trust Inc.; member of the board of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments), Husky Energy Inc., Sun Life Financial Inc. and Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada. Former president and CEO of HSBC Bank USA N.A and HSBC Bank Canada.
  • The chair/CEO relationship is critical to the effective functioning of a board. Roles and responsibilities of the chair, CEO and board members should be agreed upon and documented.
  • Boards need to spend more time selecting their chair than they probably do and ensure that his/her skills are compatible and complementary with the CEO’s.
  • Boards should evaluate the effectiveness of the chair/CEO relationship as part of an annual peer assessment process.
  • Boards should recognize that the CEO has a lonely job and he/she needs a safe forum for candid discussion; open communication on a regular basis is key to the relationship.
  • Organizations have difficulty changing from within. Today’s volatile global environment requires that boards drive change at a more rapid pace.
SASKATOON AND REGINA // 01.18.17 to 01.19.17
Conflict in the boardroom

BRENT BANDA (Saskatoon), board member of SaskWorks Venture Fund Inc. and owner of Banda Marketing Group Inc.

GLENN HEPP, chair of Conexus Credit Union and Carlton Trail College. Member of the public policy committee of Credit Union Central of Saskatchewan.

KAREN SMITH (Regina), CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Saskatchewan Inc., member of the executive committee of ICD’s Saskatchewan chapter.

MODERATOR: IRENE BOYCHUK, member of the board of the Royal University Hospital Foundation, partner at Ernst & Young, co-chair of ICD’s Saskatchewan Chapter.
  • Disagreements are unavoidable. Boards should have a process for reviewing, analyzing and debating all reasonable information.
  • A board that never argues or disagrees is likely inattentive and not fulfilling its duty of care.
  • The chair must establish and maintain a culture of trust and fairness, and facilitate balanced participation.
  • Interpersonal relations are key. Develop positive relations among the board members outside the boardroom.
  • If conflicts are not dealt with properly, they can devolve into disputes that undermine the organization’s performance.
  • Conflict, whether open or submerged, is one of the leading reasons for board member resignations.

CALGARY // 01.18.17
Climate change

PATRICK CARLSON, ICD.D, founding CEO and a director of Seven Generations Energy Ltd.

MEGHAN HARRIS-NGAE, Ernst & Young’s Western market leader for climate change and sustainability services.

JEFF LEWIS, energy reporter for The Globe and Mail.

DENNIS McCONAGHY, author of Dysfunction: Canada After Keystone XL; former executive vice-president at TransCanada Corp.

MODERATOR: BETH REIMER-HECK, QC, ICD.D, lawyer at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP and a member of the executive committee of the ICD’s Calgary chapter.
  • Corporate social responsibility and social licence involve engagement with stakeholders on a personal level by executives. Without them, a company cannot achieve its business goals.
  • Management must understand where climate policy is going, ideally framed in terms of carbon pricing, to make informed strategic decisions.
  • Canada faces a significant challenge to be able to sustain its current policy intentions on climate while maintaining reasonable competitive alignment with the United States.
  • Boards have a fiduciary duty to address the effect of the move toward a low-carbon future, regardless of government policy.
  • Boards should balance the risks they can control (such as investments in technology) with those they cannot (such as government policy).

LONDON AND KITCHENER, ONT. // 29.11.16 to 30.11.16
Thinking strategically and creatively

MICHELLE BALDWIN, member of the board of the Ontario Nonprofit Network, executive director of Pillar Nonprofit Network.

BILL DAVIDSON, executive director, Langs Community Health Centre.

JOHN HEBDEN, managing partner, Bigger Picture Solutions Inc.

MODERATOR: HARRY JOOSTEN, ICD.D, secretary for ICD’s Southwestern Ontario Chapter.
  • Include those served by the organization (for instance, customers, patients, members and employees) at the strategy table.
  • A strategic plan is a partnership between the board and management. From the strategic plan, develop an action plan to show how the board will contribute.
  • Evaluate the capabilities of the organization to execute the plan, and identify any gaps to fill.
  • Ensure the plan includes a balance between risk taking and innovation.
  • Employ an experienced facilitator to keep strategic discussions focused.
  • At the end of each board meeting, ask the question, “How did we serve our members or customers today?”

Photos: Greg Fulmes in Calgary

Source: Director Journal (March/April 2017)