How Kurt Landgraf prepares for board meetings.

Author:Milford, Maureen
Position:Survival Guide
 
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As president of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, Kurt Landgraf has a packed calendar. Yet, Landgraf happily makes time to serve on the boards of two major U.S. corporations.

"I think it's fascinating, especially if they're corporations you really like," he says about Corning Inc., a Fortune 500 specialty glass, ceramics and advanced optics based in Corning, NY, and Louisiana-Pacific Corp., a building materials company headquartered in Nashville, TN. He chairs the audit committees on both boards and also is a member of their compensation committees.

Board meetings are something he actually looks forward to, says Landgraf, who was CEO of Educational Testing Service Inc. before joining Washington College. "It's something different than I do every day," he says. "I'm 72.1 wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it."

Recently, Landgraf was preparing for a Corning board meeting. The materials arrived electronically via board management software about a week in advance to make sure they're the most up-to-date. Landgraf has decades-long experience on boards, having once served as CFO of the DuPont Co. and CEO of DuPont Merck Co.

Landgraf estimated it took him about 4 hours to read the package on his iPad. Technology now allows him to make notes on the screen and highlight important information. "You want to make sure you read everything carefully," he says. "It takes a lot of time."

Because of his duties at the college, Landgraf gets picked up by the corporate jet in Maryland for flights to the meetings. "I almost have to insist upon that because of my day job," he says.

For Corning meetings in New York City, however, he takes the train.

Unlike 40 years ago, when some board meetings in corporate America could last two to four hours, the meetings Landgraf's attends can last 14 hours.

"When I come back from board meetings I'm exhausted. They start you 7 a.m. and you go all day. Then there's a dinner meeting," he says.

Although he's aware that there are greater expectations placed on directors than at any time, Landgraf says he's never been on a board where directors did not...

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