CFOs Wanted for Boards

Most desirable qualities for board members? Objectivity and openess. Elsewhere: Liberate Technologies promotes general counsel to CFO post.
Lisa YoonAugust 8, 2002

In the wake of an unprecedented spate of corporate malfeasance cases, prudent companies are revisiting their corporate governance practices. One of the most recent tactics: publicizing the appointment of well-regarded CFOs to boards and audit committees. That’s good news for the majority of CFOs with solid reputations and high ethical standards. But experts maintain that despite an increased demand for strong leadership at the board level, top-brass directors are still hard to come by. According to a BusinessWeek Online article written by John Gardner of Heidrick & Struggles’s board-services practice, the most sought-after characteristic in a board member can also be the most rare: the ability to remain objective and to raise the hard issues that senior managers may be tempted to ignore. Other important qualities are openness to new ideas and the ability to work well in a group. In other words… sociable without letting the friendly vibes get in the way of rigorous governance.

Liberate Technologies Inc., a digital-infrastructure software developer announced the appointment of general counsel Kent Walker to additional post of CFO. Walker succeeds Nancy Hilker, who is leaving to take on CFO job at wireless-technology startup Danger Inc. Walker’s appointment may be an attempt to bring additional credence to the CFO post which has been so tarnished in recent months. His experience includes stint as white-collar crime fighter as counsel to U.S. Department of Justice. He also advised U.S. Attorney General on technology and management issues, and served as associate general counsel at Netscape. Walker joined Liberate in 2000 as VP and general counsel.

Former Adac Laboratories CFO Neil Laird will be leading finance team at Docent Inc., maker of Web-based learning programs… During his tenure at medical products company Adac, now a division of Royal Philips Electronics, Laird led turnaround initiative that took the battered company back to profitability…Prior to that, Laird worked at Coherent Medical Group, a division of Coherent Inc., and at Measurex Corp.