C-Suite and Board Perspectives

C-Suite and Board Perspectives

Panelists:
Sara A. Greenstein, President, Chief Executive Officer & Board Member
Lydall, Inc.
William H. Schumann, III, Retired Chief Financial Officer, FMC Technologies, Inc.

Moderator: Robert Cherry, Vice President, Investor Relations, Methode Electronics


KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • As a former CFO and current board member, Bill Schumann expressed very decided opinions about the importance of an investor relations officer’s credibility – and how to build credibility with management teams and Wall Street alike. His advice included bringing the perspectives of investors (including activists) and other stakeholders to “sometimes insular” management teams, as well as boards, and offering insightful perspectives about your company to investors – “90% company line, 10% shaped by your independent judgment.” He emphasized the importance of investors to a company’s success – “We’re more beholden to our shareholders today than ever before” – but acknowledged that CEOs often would prefer to spend less time on IR.
  • Sarah Greenstein praised IR officers who are the “in-depth voice representing investors and analysts” to provide context on investor perspectives, “get to the so what?” to inform C-suite and board decisions and “help bring focus to dealing with complex, hairy challenges.” Greenstein sees analytics as table stakes for IROs and emotional intelligence as the most important value-added competency. She emphasized that an IRO’s experiences both within and outside of IR are key to build your judgment, courage, confidence and credibility. In other words, IR is not an entry-level job.
  • Both panelists encouraged IROs who are interested in seeking advancement beyond IR, including roles as CFOs and CEOs. “IR is a great training ground,” Schumann said, although he advised audience members to become an influencer within your organization and build leadership skills and experience before taking on these larger roles.