It might be that I’m a bit more conscious of it lately with our recent focus on company board diversity, but there seems to have been a bit more of a spotlight on the liability of boards of late. The Fletcher situation for a start which resulted sadly in Ralph Norris’ resignation and then Shane Jones’ suggestion that the chair of Air New Zealand take a walk after their pullback on regional services both had plenty of media coverage.
While Shane Jones might not quite have had the power to make good on his threats, and he might have been slightly out of step with Grant Robertson, who as shareholding minister has been quite happy with things from a commercial performance perspective, I think it is actually a really positive sign that a minister who has a mandate to look after the regions cares enough to ruffle some feathers when anything impacts them. The PM might have had to have pulled him into line for the sake of business confidence or for other reasons beyond my comprehension but I think the very fact that in a world of vested interest regulations and lobbyists, yes even here (see pg. 38), there is still some space for ministers to fight for what they believe in – even for a little while.
Anyway, I have gone off track from my original thought about the spotlight on boards. While much of the mainstream coverage of boards tends to be when something has gone wrong and as the pressure for diversity amongst those boards grows, we should not actually forget the people who are currently serving on them and doing an amazing job.
The people that are putting their insights, judgement and experience into the governance of the companies that are driving our economy. In this issue we also talk to legendary professional director, Rob Campbell (pg. 114) about the pressures of the job, his advice for our future company directors, and our next growth industries. One of which is food production and better use of farmland which will put more focus on regional growth – just a heads-up Air New Zealand.