Courage and leadership

Navigating through unprecedented times

2021 Board Leadership Conference

 

Virtual event highlights

The 2021 KPMG Board Leadership Conference, a combination of live sessions, on-demand short takes, and board committee peer exchanges, explored business and governance challenges shaping board and committee agendas during these unprecedented times.   

The program included preeminent leaders and thinkers who shared their views on critical lessons learned from a tumultuous 2020 and offer insights for navigating the uncertainties and opportunities ahead.

Video insights

More on the 2021 board agenda

KPMG Board Leadership Center Senior Advisors share highlights from our recently released On the agenda series, including considerations for the audit, nom/gov, and compensation committees and the full board.

The future of work: focusing on the “what” instead of the “where”

Flex+Strategy Group Founder and CEO Cali Yost talks with KPMG Board Leadership Center Senior Advisor Stephen Brown about how boards are overseeing the challenges of creating a long-term strategy for remote operations and flexible work arragements.

The comp committee’s aperture widens

Farient Advisors Founder and CEO Robin Ferracone talks with KPMG Board Leadership Center Senior Advisor Annalisa Barrett about how the compensation committee’s agenda is evolving to meet heightened focus on human capital management for a holistic view of pay,


Telling your company’s ESG story

Corporate director and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation CEO Tanuja Dehne talks with KPMG Board Leadership Center Senior Advisor Claudia Allen about how boards can help their companies navigate the proliferation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics and take the initiative in telling their ESG story.

Tackling climate change: a primer

Plan C Advisors Founder and CEO Amanda North talks with KPMG Board Leadership Center Senior Advisor Susan Angele about how boards can help guide their organizations regarding the risks and opportunities presented by climate change, as well as oversight of climate risk disclosure and shareholder engagement on climate.

Chief diversity officers take center stage

Chevron Chief Diversity Officer Lee Jourdan talks with KPMG Board Leadership Center Senior Advisor Annalisa Barrett about the critical challenges facing chief diversity officers and how the board can help champion their success.


CEO succession in a storm

Corporate director D’Anne Hurd talks with KPMG Board Leadership Center Senior Advisor Claudia Allen about how boards can create and maintain effective succession plans in the face of uncertainty.

A clean-sheet approach to board effectiveness

Dan Siciliano, chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and Codex Fellow at Stanford Law School, talks with KPMG Board Leadership Center Senior Advisor Susan Angele about challenging long-standing norms and practices of board operations and effectiveness.

From our conference conversations, for your boardroom conversations

It’s about the company’s leadership

Investors, employees, and customers are all looking to bold corporate leadership—from the CEO, board, and the business—to help address major societal problems. Is the company using its resources, influence, and capabilities to address racial inequities, climate risk, and economic opportunities? Is the CEO speaking out on societal issues—and is the company following-through with action? Are ESG and long-term value connected in the company’s strategy, culture, and purpose?

When corporate culture is clear, resilience follows

Companies that have empowered their employees with a clear vision of the company’s near- and long-term objectives—and the values and expectations to guide decisions—are better positioned to pivot, innovate, and manage through a crisis. When the company’s culture is ingrained, when its values and rules of the road are clear, readiness and resilience follow.

Cyber risk: fueled by 5G and remote everything

Expect a continued increase in cyber risk: 5G technology is fueling data-driven business—AI, robotics, the explosion of sensors across the Internet of Things—and the massive shift to “remote everything” triggered by COVID-19 (remote work and online customer engagement) both spell greater vulnerability. Particularly concerning are risks posed by third-party technology vendors and the potential failure of technology systems/networks as critical infrastructure. Asked which global governance issues are most relevant to their corporate strategy, BLC conference attendees cited “cyber security” and “data privacy rules and practices” as the top two (above pandemic response and climate risk). 

Climate risk is physical, financial, reputational—and here

The focus on climate risk—by investors, stakeholders, and the incoming Biden administration—will continue to push climate (and related disclosures) to the center of boardroom discussions. What are the implications for the company’s financial performance and reputation—particularly with employee and customer expectations for climate action rising steadily higher? Beyond physical risks, what are the second- and third-order effects—economic, social, political—and that could impact the company? Scenario-planning should be well underway (and ongoing).

Does oversight need more foresight?

Specific skills and prior board or C-suite experience still matter, but directors who can spot patterns and think differently in the highly complex and uncertain environment we’re in—helping the company adapt quickly to changing conditions—are at a premium. A clean-sheet rethink of the traditional skills matrix can be informed by a basic question: Are the board’s current members able to help the company see ahead—envisioning its future and pivoting along the way? First-hand experience guiding a company through a strategic transformation or existential crisis may prove invaluable in the year(s) ahead.

Your company has an ESG story, and you need to tell it

If you have employees, a supply chain, and investors, you have an ESG story. And if you’re not telling it, ESG raters and indexes are going to tell it for you. It may not be “neat or complete,” but investors, customers, employees, and other stakeholders want to know where the company is on its ESG journey—and that it’s not only talking the talk, but walking the walk. How does the company define “ESG” and which issues matter most to its strategy, risk profile, and reputation? As with earnings and financial performance, a company’s ESG story is increasingly determining stakeholder confidence and trust. 

ESG incentives: What gets measured—and compensated—gets done

It’s a pressing issue for comp committees today: Should compensation plans include incentives linked to ESG measures? U.S. companies still lag much of the world, but the global trend is clear: More companies are tying “stakeholder measures” to compensation plans—from diversity hires and candidates in the pipeline to climate impact—to drive behaviors and focus. Meaningful weighting of ESG metrics will get  employees’ attention, and it sends an important message to the organization and its stakeholders: ESG matters.

The strategic future of work: Shifting from the “where” to the “what”

Strike the question of where employees work. A better one is what should work look like? Strategic work flexibility—encompassing place, space, and time—is an emerging mindset and model for companies to stay productive and competitive as the relevance of the workplace fades. Is management—including IT, HR, facilities and operations—aligned on what the company’s strategy is today, in the near-term, and for its workforce of the future? Strategy, flexibility, pilots, and calibration are catchwords for boards to listen for in this new-world-of-work journey.

Tax, ESG, and disruption ahead.

The U.S. and international tax landscapes are poised for disruption: Likely changes to tax rates, incentives, and international coordination should be prompting fresh conversations in the boardroom about the company’s tax risk profile. But tax as a business cost and a compliance matter is only part of the story: tax transparency, responsibility, and corporate reputation should also be on the radar as tax converges with ESG, posing new questions and opportunities. 

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Courage and leadership | 2021 Board Leadership Conference highlights
Highlights and related insights from our 2021 KPMG Board Leadership Conference

Live session speakers

José Andrés

José Andrés

Chef and Philanthropist,

David Axelrod

David Axelrod

Political Analyst and Senior Political Commentator, CNN

Ian Bremmer

Ian Bremmer

Founder and President, Eurasia Group and GZERO Media

Dr. Richard Haass

Dr. Richard Haass

President, Council on Foreign Relations

Constance L  Hunter

Constance L Hunter

Principal and Chief Economist, KPMG US

+1 212-954-3396
Katty Kay

Katty Kay

Journalist, Author, and BBC World News Broadcaster

Erik Larson

Erik Larson

Award-winning Author, The Splendid and The Vile

Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi

Former Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo, Board Member, Amazon

 

Featured speakers and
Rethinking the boardroom dialogue: short take series speakers

Claudia H. Allen

Claudia H. Allen

Senior Advisor, Board Leadership Center, KPMG US

Susan M. Angele

Susan M. Angele

Senior Advisor, Board Leadership Center, KPMG US

Annalisa Barrett

Annalisa Barrett

Senior Advisor, Board Leadership Center, KPMG US

Stephen L. Brown

Stephen L. Brown

Senior Advisor, Board Leadership Center, KPMG US

Manal Corwin

Manal Corwin

Principal in Charge, Washington National Tax, KPMG US

+1 202-533-3127
Stephen T. Dabney

Stephen T. Dabney

Leader, KPMG Audit Committee Institute, KPMG US

Tanuja Dehne

Tanuja Dehne

President and CEO, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Director, Advanced Disposal Services, Granite Point Mortgage

D’Anne Hurd

D’Anne Hurd

Director, Peckham Industries, Eileen Fisher, Martin Engineering; Trustee, Pax World Funds

Robin Ferracone

Robin Ferracone

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Farient Advisors LLC

John P. Gimigliano

John P. Gimigliano

Principal, Washington National Tax, KPMG US

+1 202-533-4022
Tandra Jackson

Tandra Jackson

Vice Chair, Growth & Strategy, KPMG US

+1 713-319-2338
Lee Jourdan

Lee Jourdan

Chief Diversity Officer, Chevron

Paul Knopp

Paul Knopp

U.S. Chair and Chief Executive Officer, KPMG US

+1 847-612-3437
Amanda North

Amanda North

CEO and Founder, Plan C Advisors

John H. Rodi

John H. Rodi

Leader, KPMG Board Leadership Center, KPMG US

F. Daniel Siciliano

F. Daniel Siciliano

Chairman, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, Codex Fellow, Stanford Law School

Cali Williams Yost

Cali Williams Yost

CEO and Founder, Flex+Strategy Group

Explore more about the conference

View full agenda

Agenda

Please note that all event times are in Eastern Standard Time. 
 Date / Time Event discussion topic Speakers
Monday, January 11
All day

Virtual Conference opens 
Attendees can access the site, view the conference agenda and customize their schedule, watch breakout content, and chat with other attendees

Rethinking the boardroom dialogue
All on-demand short takes will be available throughout the week and can be accessed and watched on your own schedule.

 
Tuesday, January 12 - Live sessions

1:00pm–2:00pm ET


Opening general session

Welcome and 2021 economic outlook

While the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines will mark a decisive step forward, an uneven economic recovery lies ahead, with particularly deep and disruptive impacts on certain parts of the economy. KPMG Chief Economist Constance Hunter will assess the economic landscape and challenges and opportunities ahead, including the outlook for consumer demand and jobs growth, post-election economic stimulus scenarios, and the critical drivers of growth and innovation in 2021.

  • Paul Knopp
    Chairman and CEO,
    KPMG US
  • Constance Hunter
    Principal and Chief Economist,
    KPMG US
2:00pm–3:00pm ET BREAK  

3:00pm–4:00pm ET


Leadership in times of crisis

The resilience of Londoners during Germany’s bombing blitz in 1940—as chronicled in Erik Larson’s best-seller, The Splendid and the Vile—is legendary. How did they do it? What role did British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s leadership play in driving the national narrative and bolstering the nation’s resolve? What can be learned from Churchill about leadership and courage in times of crisis? In this fireside chat, David Axelrod and Erik Larson will consider lessons from Britain’s darkest year for today’s leaders. 

  • David Axelrod
    Political analyst and Senior Political Commentator,
    CNN
  • Erik Larson
    Award-winning Author,
    The Splendid and the Vile
4:00pm–5:00pm ET BREAK  

5:00pm–6:00pm ET


Making the world a better place – the power of food

“A hot meal in a time of crisis is so much more than a plate of food.” José Andrés and his World Central Kitchen have been at the forefront of delivering food relief in the wake of natural and humanitarian disasters. Join us for an intimate conversation with Andrés—restauranteur and culinary innovator, author, educator, and humanitarian—on the power of food, innovation, and public-private collaboration to tackle food insecurity, empower communities, and strengthen economies.
  • José Andrés
    Chef and Philanthropist
  • Tandra Jackson
    Vice Chair, Growth & Strategy,
    KPMG US
Wednesday, January 13 - Live sessions
 

 

1:00pm–2:00pm ET


Emerging geopolitical and risk landscape


From the global response to COVID-19 and the urgency of climate risk to the emerging “tech cold war” with China and a Biden Administration poised to reengage with multilateral institutions, companies face an array of geopolitical uncertainties and complexity not seen in 30 years. In this session, the Katty Kay, Ian Bremmer, and Richard Haass will delve into the geopolitical forces reshaping the global business landscape and driving corporate strategy and risk.
  • John Rodi
    Leader, KPMG Board Leadership Center, 
    KPMG US
  • Ian Bremmer 
    President and Founder,
    Eurasia Group and GZero Media
  • Richard Haass 
    President,
    Council on Foreign Relations
  • Katty Kay 
    Journalist, Author,
    and BBC World News Broadcaster
2:00pm–2:10pm ET BREAK
 
2:10pm–3:00pm ET Peer exchanges – Session 1  
3:00pm–3:10pm ET BREAK  
3:10pm–4:00pm ET Peer exchanges – Session 2  
4:00pm–4:30pm ET BREAK  

4:30pm–5:30pm ET

Making a difference, and a profit

Companies are not in the business of playing the role of government—yet this perspective, former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi has noted, is “incomplete and doesn’t reflect the ambiguities of our 21st century world. The line between business and society is increasingly blurred.” Consumers, employees, and investors increasingly expect business leaders to run companies in a way that’s responsive to the needs of the world around us. In this fireside chat, Nooyi will share her thoughts and first-hand experience navigating this fundamental challenge facing corporations today: making a profit in a way that makes a difference. 
  • Indra Nooyi
    Former Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo,
    Board Member, Amazon
  • Paul Knopp
    Chairman and CEO,
    KPMG US
Thursday, January 14 - Friday, January 15
All day

Virtual conference site remains open
all on-demand content available
-Rethinking the boardroom dialogue, on-demand short takes
-Playback of live sessions
-Networking area open

 

Draft - Subject to change

Rethinking the boardroom dialogue: On-demand short takes series

Short take / discussion topic Speakers
A clean-sheet approach to board effectiveness  The KPMG 2020 U.S. CEO Outlook survey found that many CEOs see the COVID-19 era as an opportunity—if not an imperative—to go beyond incremental change. If the board created itself anew, how would it be designed to best provide guidance and oversight for the new reality? In this conversation, we challenge long-standing norms and practices of board operations and effectiveness—from meeting cadence and agendas, sources and relevance of information, and allocation of committee responsibilities to the board’s accountability, evaluation, and turnover. 
  • Susan Angele
    Senior Advisor,
    KPMG Board Leadership Center
  • Dan Siciliano
    Chairman,
    Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco;
    Codex Fellow, Stanford Law School
CEO succession in a storm –  Boards often identify CEO succession planning as ripe for improvement. Compounding the challenge, the disruptions from COVID-19, social unrest, and recession have required strategic pivots and resets—raising questions about whether the company has the right talent in the pipeline to execute on the company’s evolving strategy. In this session, we discuss how boards can create and maintain effective succession plans in the face of uncertainty, including the specter of emergency succession.
  • Claudia Allen
    Senior Advisor,
    KPMG Board Leadership Center
  • D’Anne Hurd
    Director, 
    Peckham Industries, Eileen Fisher, Martin Engineering; Trustee, Pax World Funds
Chief diversity officers take center stage – The intensified focus on racial justice, diversity and inclusion, and corporate reputation have turned up the spotlight on the role of chief diversity officer (CDO) in building more diverse and inclusive workforces. This conversation focuses on the critical challenges facing CDOs and how the board can help champion their success by ensuring sufficient resources, stature, clear reporting lines, and accountability.
  • Annalisa Barrett
    Senior Advisor,
    KPMG Board Leadership Center
  • Lee Jourdan
    Chief Diversity Officer,
    Chevron
On the 2021 board and committee agendas – Highlights from KPMG’s recently released series, On the 2021 board and committee agendas.
  • Claudia Allen
    Senior Advisor,
    KPMG Board Leadership Center
  • Susan Angele
    Senior Advisor,
    KPMG Board Leadership Center
  • Annalisa Barrett
    Senior Advisor,
    KPMG Board Leadership Center
  • Stephen Brown
    Senior Advisor,
    KPMG Board Leadership Center
Tackling climate change: a primer – With extreme weather around the world impacting business operations, risk management, governance, and strategy, the global dialogue on climate risk is rapidly becoming part of the boardroom dialogue. In this discussion, we consider how boards can help guide their organizations, from considering the risks and opportunities of climate change issues and climate risk disclosure to board oversight and shareholder engagement on climate as a rising investor concern and proxy issue.
  • Susan Angele
    Senior Advisor,
    KPMG Board Leadership Center
  • Amanda North
    Founder and CEO,
    Plan C Advisors
Tax risk and transparency – Tax will continue to move higher on audit committee and board agendas, as the Biden Administration’s tax legislative agenda takes shape and coordinated global policy initiatives sharpen the focus on profit shifting, minimum levels of taxation, and transparency. In this discussion, we look at the emerging U.S. and international tax landscape and consider the implications for tax risk and responsibility—including the connection of tax to sustainability/ESG agendas and corporate reputation.
  • Manal Corwin
    Principal-in-Charge,
    Washington National Tax, 
    KPMG LLP
  • John Gimigliano
    Principal-in-Charge,
    Federal Tax Legislative and Regulatory Services,
    KPMG LLP
Telling your company’s ESG story – Institutional investors, public pension funds, employees, and other stakeholders are increasing their demands for companies to disclose meaningful data on how they are addressing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. But ESG ratings and reporting frameworks are numerous and can vary widely. In this dialogue, we consider how boards can help their companies can navigate the proliferation of metrics and take the initiative in telling their ESG story to their stakeholders with meaningful disclosures.
  • Claudia Allen
    Senior Advisor,
    KPMG Board Leadership Center
  • Tanuja Dehne
    CEO,
    Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation;
    Director, Advanced Disposal Services,
    Granite Point Mortgage
The comp committee’s aperture widens – The past 12 months have underscored that employee well-being and talent development are critical to corporate strategy and long-term success. As boards sharpen their focus on the oversight of human capital management, they are increasingly tasking the compensation committee to help provide holistic view of pay, people, and performance. This session will discuss how the compensation committee’s agenda is evolving to meet that need and stakeholders’ heightened expectations.
  • Annalisa Barrett
    Senior Advisor,
    KPMG Board Leadership Center
  • Robin Ferracone
    Founder and CEO,
    Farient Advisors
The future of work: focusing on the "what" instead of the "where" – With corporate America’s quick-response and accelerated shift to remote operations and flexible work arrangements largely in place, the focus on the “where” of work is giving way to the “what.” This discussion explores how boards are overseeing the challenges of creating a long-term strategy around this potentially profound transformation of the workplace—and work. 
  • Stephen Brown
    Senior Advisor,
    KPMG Board Leadership Center
  • Cali Yost
    Founder and CEO,
    Flex+Strategy Group