Good board governance is more than just tick-the-box compliance: Halde

Mar 07, 2014
The ICD-Rotman Directors Education Program is the leading national program for experienced directors in Canada. ICD's Director Journal recently spoke to Jean-René Halde about his DEP experience.

Jean-René Halde, ICD.D
President and CEO, Business Development Bank of Canada

The way DEP graduate Jean-René Halde sees it, good board governance is more than just “ticking off the boxes” of compliance. It’s about using sound judgment and leadership to create value for the corporation - whether it’s a publicly traded company or a non-profit charitable organization.
“I think that was one of the things that was reinforced in me after being part of the directors’ course,” says Halde, who took the DEP in 2004. He later became coordinator of the first DEP program to be held in Montreal, leading a “who’s who” of the Quebec business and non-profit world that wanted to improve their skills as current or potential board members.
Halde, President and CEO of the Business Development Bank of Canada since 2005, has held CEO positions at corporations such as Metro-Richelieu Inc., Livingston Group Inc. and Culinar Inc. At present, he also serves as Chairman of the Conference Board of Canada and is a director on the board of the Montreal Hospital Foundation.
In the past, Halde served as a director in a number of for-profit companies including CCL Industries Inc., Gaz Metropolitain Inc., Groupe Vidéotron and Provigo Inc.

While paying attention to compliance should be important to any member of a board, Halde says, good board governance also involves choosing the right calibre and combination of directors. It also means forming the right committees and asking the right questions of management “without stepping over the line” into micro-managing operations.
As for who would benefit the most from taking the DEP, Halde says it comes down to balancing the types of people and experiences in the classroom. It’s a matter of ensuring that there is enough board or management experience, on one hand, he says, to encourage a “high level of discussion,” while at the same time offering those with less experiences the opportunity to learn from others in the program.

“It is important to provide a good theoretical base for those with less experience, and some ‘golden nuggets’ of insight and information for those who have sat on boards or held management positions.”

Source: ICD Director Journal

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