Five Questions With: Bob Popeo

Incoming president of the New England chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors talks about shareholder pressure during a difficult economy. More

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Five Questions With: Bob Popeo

COURTESY NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CORPORATE DIRECTORS
"BOARD ARE constantly facing increased pressure for board accountability from stakeholders, the public and the government," said Bob Popeo, incoming president of the New England chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors' New England chapter.
Posted 11/29/11

Bob Popeo is the incoming president of the New England chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors, a membership organization devoted to advancing board leadership and effectiveness. The association knows firsthand that having solid leadership in this ever-changing environment is more important than ever, and may be the factor that ensures a company’s survival and ability to thrive. Popeo talks how directors can work together to lead change in the face of intense shareholder pressure and scrutiny during this critical time, with an economic downturn and government regulations impacting boards across the region and country.

PBN: Why did you decide to become involved in the New England Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors?

POPEO: The National Association of Corporate Directors New England is the premier source in New England for corporate governance information, education and training for directors and CEOs who are committed to raising standards and improving boardroom performance. As the current board chairman for a major national law firm, I knew it would be mutually advantageous to take a leadership role in an organization that focuses on creating more effective and efficient boards through director-led education and peer forums. I look forward to learning from the experiences of other executive members of the association, and to sharing my expertise with those involved in the organization.

PBN: What are the greatest challenge facing corporate boards today?

POPEO: Corporate boards face a host of challenges worth noting, many of which are interconnected. A board must balance the mission and vision it holds for the company with the financial objectives of activist stakeholders, public perceptions of the company and the threat of governmental intervention. These divergent goals can negatively impact the board and complicate decision-making in the boardroom.

The National Association of Corporate Directors New England’s position is that companies consistently practicing open, honest communication with both their shareholders and the investment community as a whole are more likely to be fairly valued in the marketplace and less likely to become targets for activists. The association offers programs and seminars to educate members about effective board governance and preparedness for today’s challenges.

PBN: How can corporate boards work together to lead change in the face of intense shareholder pressure and scrutiny?

POPEO: The National Association of Corporate Directors New England provides a forum in which directors and board leaders can utilize each other’s expertise to advance the best practices in board governance and self-improvement in the boardroom. Directors will find a network of peers who can share knowledge and insight with one another, effectively enhancing shareholder value. The association also offers programs on topics such as shareholder activism, government in the boardroom, and pay-for-performance. To that end, directors can make better-informed decisions with access to governance experts and proprietary, time-tested research that addresses the opportunities and challenges facing their respective boards.

PBN: How has the economic downturn and increased government regulations impacted corporate boards?

POPEO: Boards are constantly facing increased pressure for board accountability from stakeholders, the public and the government. New boardroom regulations are a reflection of the perceived lack of oversight by boards in the past decade. Boards that effectively manage company objectives and stakeholders’ financial needs will mitigate the impact of regulations and execute decisions appropriate to the company that increase value for its shareholders.

PBN: Can you give me a vague example of high profile case you handled?

POPEO: One of the most high-profile cases I handled was for the majority leader of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who was accused of accepting a bribe from an undercover FBI agent. The client was acquitted after two trials. Other high-profile cases have involved CEOs of public companies, college presidents, entertainment celebrities and federal and state elected officials.

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