When David Preng, president and CEO of Preng & Associates, was asked about the composition of energy boards and the challenges they will face in 2020 and beyond, he said he consulted with Allen Brooks, David Heikkinen, Maynard Holt, Ray Singletary, Art Smith, Jim Wicklund and a couple of my fellow National Association of Corporate Directors members. Preng calls them the Brain Trust (BT). Their comments revealed a central theme—make sure you have the right board composition for today and tomorrow. It must be a board that understands the evolving energy market and your shareholder base, has the vision and creativity to make the right decisions for the future and is willing to champion and embrace change.
Let’s revisit a few fundamentals and develop key concepts for a great corporation run by a great board. Every public business has three primary constituencies: (1) employees who provide the goods and services that generate revenues and profits; (2) customers who are identified, studied, dissected and buy the goods and services; and (3) shareholders/investors who provide the needed capital.
It is this latter group that, unless an activist is involved, gets the least attention and is the least understood. Granted, public companies know their top 10 to 50 largest shareholders. They visit them. They hold analyst days for them. But do they truly know who they are today and what is driving them?