In affiliation with Spencer Stuart -- a quarterly record of new director appointments
IN MULLING OVER an enticing board invitation, directors are likely to find no lack of information about the companies eagerly recruiting them. While companies typically furnish prospective directors with prospectuses, annual reports, and other similar materials, there is a vast mine of information on public companies that directors can access on their own.
However, three directors joining boards in this edition of the Directors Roster say the information that mattered to them most in deciding whether to accept a board invitation was not found in any printed literature. Rather, they placed greater value on information based on relationships. That is, personal interactions with the recruiting company.
Joining the board of Black & Decker Corp. is Ryder System Chairman M. Anthony Burns. He says that while reviewing Black & Decker's financial reports was clearly very important, what really influenced his decision was that he had known its chairman, Nolan Archibald, and also director Mark Willes, former CEO of Times Mirror Co., who had served on Ryder's board from 1992-1998. In fact, Burns was first approached by Willes with the board invitation.
"I was recruited to Black & Decker's board much in the same way I recruit directors for my own board," says Burns. He explains that the first critical step is to have some familiarity with a prospective director. Next, working together with his board, Burns then tries to reach consensus on a recommendation, and that person receives the initial call from someone on Ryder's board who knows that individual well.
In addition to having received what he calls "typical financial statements you would expect to get" from a company, Burns says he requested several Black & Decker marketing brochures. "It's interesting what you can pick up about a company's culture when you glean through its collateral information," he says. But, he adds, "Information isn't always in the form of text. I like to receive information at a more personal level -- talking things over, face-to face."
Joining the board of Qwest Communications is Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "Anybody who's got some sense about all this," he says, "will get a lot of information on their own." His advice: "Find out what businesses they're in, what markets they serve, who their customers are and their competitors." He adds, "You don't...