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EYES ON Corporate Governance

A special publication of the Institute of Corporate Directors Ottawa Chapter | APRIL 23, 2018

Debra Alves is the chief executive of the CBC Pension Plan.

Lessons from the CBC Pension Plan and Shopify executives Senior executives Debra Alves and Russ Jones discover there’s always more to learn

M

aybe you’re nearing retirement or looking to further your experience and skills. You have corporate and/ or board experience. You want to continue making a positive contribution in your industry or in your community.

Today, the role is much more complex. Board members have a duty of loyalty, a duty of care and a duty to act in good faith in the best interests of all stakeholders along with a fiduciary duty to the corporation. Even the definition of stakeholder has undergone an overhaul, said Debra Alves. More than just employees, Where do you start? customers and shareholders, it can now extend to Boards of directors are always looking for good the community and even society at large. people. It may be in the public sector, the private, “People often come in with the wrong hat or with a non-profit organization. But a lot has on,” Alves said. “They have to appreciate changed in recent years. The days when boards their fiduciary responsibilities and who the were “old boys’ clubs” that met once a quarter stakeholders are that they answer to as a member have passed. of a board.”

She knows of what she speaks. Currently chief executive of the CBC Pension Plan, Alves also sits on several pension committees outside the CBC and has served on various boards, including the Victorian Order of Nurses. She’s come to appreciate the fine line a board member must walk in order to fulfill their responsibility to drive and support the organization.

Value of cognitive diversity Recognizing the benefits of diversity plays a big role. This extends beyond gender to include cognitive diversity – differences in how people process information and relate ideas, regardless

of factors like gender, age or ethnicity. “You need to be aware of the value of different perspectives and how those perspectives get a voice, all without being too hands-on with the management team,” Alves said. “Management knows the business better than you do.” A healthy degree of tension between a CEO and a board is to be expected, as the board strives to stay at arms’ length from the day-today operations of the organization, to act as a guiding force for management and as a voice for stakeholders. Continues on page 3

Ottawa Business Journal April 23, 2018  

Local Ottawa business news, start ups, technology, real estate, marketing, tourism, entrepreneurship, local commentary, reader comments, peo...

Ottawa Business Journal April 23, 2018  

Local Ottawa business news, start ups, technology, real estate, marketing, tourism, entrepreneurship, local commentary, reader comments, peo...