This "Year in Governance" special edition gives me the opportunity to look back on my own experiences over the past year as a director of three corporate and four charitable/civic boards. For 16 years I served on the board of Alberto-Culver Co., which in May 2011 completed its sale to Unilever. Under the strong and focused leadership of the Lavin/Bernick family, Culver grew into a world-class personal care products company. Since its founding in the mid-1950s, Culver has not only developed powerful brands but also a powerful culture, which reflected "the lengthened shadow" of its two very creative, competent and caring chairs, Leonard Lavin and his daughter Carol.
For 15 years 1 have served on the board of Quaker Chemical Co. We effectively transitioned the leadership to Michael Barry, who took on the top job just as the 2008/09 recession slammed the world economy. Overnight Quaker's business tumbled by 40%, and its stock plummeted to $6 a share. Mike and his team have reinvigorated the business, capturing market share and expanding product offerings, which has resulted in today's record profits and $40 share price.
At Penn Mutual we had a seamless transition in top management with the retirement of Robert Chappell and the elevation of Eileen McDonnell, the first female CEO of a major life insurance company. As chair of Penn MutuaPs governance committee, I saw the great foresight Bob had in making this succession so successful. I have participated in many succession processes, none better handled than this one.
I am a member of several charitable/civic boards in Philadelphia, my hometown. With the precipitous decline in funding sources, they have had to scramble. However, in stark contrast to most...