Waldemar Schmidt is chair of Superfos and Thrane & Thrane, deputy chair of Majid al Futtaim Holding, director of Group4 Securicor and Alfa Laval and a member of London Business School’s Europe Regional Advisory Board.
He was formerly group chief executive of ISS, one of the world’s leading facilities support services groups with offices in 35 countries around the world. So with over 25 years boardroom experience what are his perspectives on how an effective board should operate. Georgina Peters asks the questions.
What do you think are the characteristics of those boards that really work well?
Keeping focused on the board’s role is critically important, and one of the topics that I am very interested in is the company’s strategy, which must be deeply rooted in the whole organisation and not come and go with the CEO. That is the starting point. Companies that change their CEO and then give their successors just 100 days to build a new strategy don’t build long-term shareholder value.
To be effective, boards also need the right balance of people and clear structures of accountability. So this means ensuring that there is a blend of people with different competencies. This is something that people didn’t think about too much in the past and often you would find boards with people who had more or less the same profile. Today, companies are aware that they need boards that represent the whole spectrum of their product or service as well as the territory that they work in. As a result you see more and more boards having non-nationals, which is very important.