DAVID BAKER LEWIS, co-founder of Lewis & Munday. Director H&R Block, The Detroit Edison Securitization Funding LLC, STERIS Corporation, and GM-UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust.
What attracted you to H&R Block, and how did you end up on the company's board?
At that time, I was attracted to Block's brand and its desire to be a diversified tax preparation and financial services provider.
A former member of the Block board (with whom I had served on another board) recommended me. I was recruited by the then Block board chair (independent) and CEO. I did due diligence. I liked the company's business model so I decided to say yes.
Were you looking to become a board member when you first got on the board or did someone approach you with the idea?
I was not looking to become a public board member when I first got on a public board (Conrail). I got a call out of the blue one day in 1989 inviting me to join the Conrail board. Turned out that I was recommended for consideration by a member of the Conrail board--former Michigan governor William G. Milliken. In 1970, Gov. Milliken had appointed me to the charter board of trustees of my college alma mater, Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan)--a state-supported university. I served on the Oakland Board of Trustees for 12 years, serving the last two years as chairman of the board.
What do you think you did, or was in your background, that made you a sought-after candidate for public boards?
My service record on the Oakland University board of trustees presumably was a factor in the recommendation Gov. Milliken made to the Conrail board. I don't know what factors motivated my other boards to consider me, although the fact that I was serving/had served on public boards quieted the question of "can he fit/serve on a public board." In addition, I think my educational background (B.A., MBA, JD), being CEO at my firm, previous leadership roles in numerous civic and community organizations and, eventually, prior public board committee experience (audit, compensation, finance and governance) were important factors.
With your experience on a wide range of boards, including Kroger, Conrail, TRW and Comerica, what would you say is the most challenging aspect of board service, and what is most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect for me has been learning the full scope of each company's business model and future competitive/strategic challenges. Most rewarding has been the opportunity to participate in--from...