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An active panel discussion at the Directors-In-Dialogue Forum with Moderator Prof Didier Cossin (left), Dr Erich Hunziker, Ms Teo Swee Lian and Mr Tan Suee Chieh

Why Boards Could be at Risk

The Board's main responsibility is to lead its institution through risks and opportunities. Nevertheless, boards themselves are also at risk. Their exposure goes beyond the immediate success or failure of the organisation they supervise - they often need to balance long-term considerations with short-term survival. Sometimes, a Board's inability to steer complex institutions through business disruptions, economic shocks, leadership breakdowns and organisational failures, can put it at grave risk. To discuss this important topic, TMS Academy hosted a Directors-In-Dialogue (DID) Forum on March 2, 2016 at the Amara Sanctuary Resort, Sentosa. The Forum brought together over 70 chairmen and board directors from Europe, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, China, India and Kazakhstan.

The 'Boards at Risk' Forum was led by Professor Didier Cossin, UBS' Chair in Banking and Finance at IMD and the Founding Director of the IMD Global Board Center. During the session, Prof Cossin highlighted cases from all corners of the globe on reputation hits, economic tsunamis, strategic failures and technological blind spots, complex board structure, succession failure, misconduct and corruption.

Other distinguished panellists included Dr Erich Hunziker, Chairman, BB Biotech AG, Ms Teo Swee Lian, Non-Executive and Independent Director, Singapore Telecommunications Limited, and Mr Tan Suee Chieh, Group Chief Executive Officer, NTUC Enterprise Co-operative Limited. Since the launch of the DID series in August 2014, the forum has received tremendous support from the board community. To date, the DID series has built up an extensive alumni network of chairmen and board directors from across the Temasek network, the public sector, MNCs, ASEAN companies and social enterprises.

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"Boards at Risk" programme highlights

    Some of the topics discussed included the fact that boards are often ill prepared to oversee and manage the rising complexity and normalisation of deviance, and also that they need to better understand what strong risk prevention and rich opportunity optimisation entails. Some of the following points of discussion generated robust debates during the forum:
  • Board failures: the danger zone
  • Governance as key risk
  • Board dynamics and risks
  • Red flags of risk unpreparedness
  • Is "good" governance killing business entrepreneurship?
  • The stewardship of risks and opportunities

About the DID

The DID, which is a flagship programme of TMS Academy, the integrated leadership development arm of Temasek Management Services (TMS), is a series of highly interactive forums that facilitate robust, in-depth discussion and debate on topical subjects of high relevance to board directors of both private and public organisations in Asia. Designed to address the evolving needs of board directors in Asia, this series provides the most current thinking on board effectiveness from global thought leaders and subject matter experts, blended with valuable insights and practical "usable" knowledge from some of Asia's most renowned boardroom leaders and practitioners. The discussion themes for each forum vary and are continually refreshed to reflect subjects that are top-of-mind for board directors in Asia today.

Did you know...

The average lifespan of companies on the S&P 500 index used to be longer than people. In 1920, the average lifespan of people was 54 while that of S&P 500 companies was 6. In 2014, the average lifespan of people was 76 while that of S&P 500 companies was 15. (Source: Innosight / Richard N. Foster / S&P)