What Private Boards Can Learn From Public Boards
For private company board members, shareholders and owners.
January 17, 2018
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What Private Boards Can Learn From Public Boards - Taking the Heat of the CEO  - How to Develop a Diverse Board & Pick the Right Chairman

What Private Boards Can Learn From Public Boards

An interview with Dennis Chookaszian, retired chairman and CEO of CNA Insurance Companies, conducted by Roger Nanney, vice chairman, Deloittle LLP, and national managing partner of Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services. 

Can you talk about your background?

I’ve had three careers. My first career was with Deloitte. I was with them for eight years in management consulting. About half of the work I did was technology systems work, half was accounting and finance work. Then I was with CNA for 27 years; CFO for 15 years; the president, CEO and chairman for nine years, then on the board until I retired.

My third career, which I’m doing now, is a combination of two things. I serve on the boards of many companies and I teach two courses at University of Chicago in the MBA program, and teach four of five times a year at two different universities in China and I also teach at a university in India. The courses I teach are corporate governance, related to both public and private companies and also not-for-profits.

I’ve served 13 public boards and 50 private company boards. When you serve on 60 different boards you kind of see everything.

We’ve all watched what’s happened in the public company environment with boards over the last decade. How has the private company board evolved over that period of time and to what extent has there been any mirroring with what’s going on in public boards?

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Taking the Heat Off the CEO

The board’s role in compensation, succession and talent oversight. 

By Barbara Spector

Milton Pinsky, who recently stepped down as CEO of Banner Real Estate Group LLC, faced some drama when it came to setting pay for family members, but having a board oversee the compensation structure took some of the heat off him.

“I owned a majority from the outset,” says Pinsky, who founded the Northbrook, Ill., company with his brother and father in 1990 and is now executive chairman. “My brother and father were my partners. Part of the mission, right from the outset, was to make it possible to be an ongoing family business.” Pinsky’s brother-in-law joined the company as a partner in 1996.

The presence of an independent board, he explains, helped him when a family disagreement came to a head. The board was seated in 2005.

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How to Develop a Diverse Board & Pick the Right Chairman

By Jennifer Muntz and Andrew Keyt

Our natural tendency is to surround ourselves with people whose backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints are similar to ours. But in order to achieve the true power of a board of directors, you must take a different approach when considering director candidates.

Boards hold management teams accountable for developing and executing a dynamic strategy. The strategy must be aligned with the values and needs of the family shareholders and must address the competitive challenges faced by the business.

Research has shown that boards make better decisions, leading to higher company performance, when they include independent members as well as directors who are diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, skill sets and opinions.

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