business role, trying to make the case that those are complementary,” he says. “I think the better-run companies and their leadership have made it a point to keep [this] focus, because once you disconnect, you make yourself more vulnerable and don’t attract the same kind of talent.”
Thomas urges board members to travel outside headquarters to satellite locations. “You not only meet the management and workforce in those operations but you meet the leadership from those communities. It’s a way of getting beyond the written text and adding the human dimension to all these things.” -DTD
The Number Cruncher: Christopher Williams
Title: Chairman and CEO, Williams Capital Group L.P.;
Chairman and CEO, Williams Capital Management L.L.C.
Boards: Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Christopher Williams’ financial prowess would make him a valuable director on any board. It was through an investment banking relationship with Wal-Mart stores over the past five years that he gained direct knowledge of the inner workings of the company. “Since Sarbanes-Oxley, the environment has changed. Shareholders are now looking more closely at the culpability of the board,” says Williams, a member of Wal-Mart’s audit committee, the #ultimate watchdog of shareholder value.
Williams was named a Wal-Mart board member at a time when shareholders were calling upon the company to ensure that two-thirds of its board positions were independent directors. “Every board is looking for a diversity of skill sets,” says Williams, who as a minority brings “perspectives and sensitivities that may not have been considered, as well as a broad range of relationships within our community.” -CMB