I belong to a lot of organizations, and none come remotely close to the quality of the networking at The Conference Board, the seniority of the networking, and the quality of the peer relationships. This is my premier professional development. It’s the one I esteem the most and hold onto the hardest.
People are quick to compare this to CEB. There's no comparison. They do benchmarking and data analytics, but there's less interactivity. They don't bring people together.
Patrick Carpenter, VP, Communications, Materion
I find the fact that the membership of the group is so diverse a huge advantage. For me the impact is from the membership mix, and the mix of sessions (i.e. formal presentation, member-led discussion, informal discussion among peers about hot topics). I get a lot of my learning and tangible benefits from the informal discussion with my peers at or after the meetings.
If you are in groups that are industry-based, there is a risk of group-think, there is a risk of not thinking outside the box. I find it interesting to listen to what is energizing businesses that are so different to mine, because it can translate or at least cause you to ask a question, "have we even considered this?"
Sheila O'Connor, Group Risk and Compliance, Electricity Supply Board (ESB)
The Conference Board plays a really critical role in terms of what's going on in the world. We're here today with our functional hats on. But we can’t serve our companies without knowing what's going on in the wider world. The Conference Board does a great job of bringing in other issues, topics, and relevant information. The size of the group is good, and the confidential discussions amongst one's peers are priceless.
Maril MacDonald, Founder and CEO, Gagen MacDonald
The informal, very candid exchange is why you don't want to miss the meetings. We've formalized our "round robins" so that candid information sharing is an institutional tradition. Also, I'm tapping into The Conference Board research capabilities. Recently I needed to understand more about the changing relationship between business and society in the wake of new technology—The Conference Board had great information for me.
Barie Carmichael, Senior Counselor, APCO Worldwide
The beauty of this experience is the group size; that we are all senior professionals at similar or the same maturity. We understand each other.
My field tends to be made up of small teams. To get experience with what others are doing, you need to look outside. Councils is a unique solution, which offers a small group of professionals doing the same thing that I do; sophisticated peers with same maturity.
Didier O'Dorico, Director Risk Management, Tetra Pak International
The Conference Board Councils has, for years, been a safe and healthy environment to crystallize thinking and learn fast in order to redress the ignorance chasm.
John Dodds, Senior Member, The Sharp End LLC
Much of the value is created by meeting peers in other organizations and understanding that while you have many dissimilar challenges and opportunities, you also face many similar challenges and opportunities. It is in this diverse and asymmetric space that you get challenged and stimulated. It is in this space that you start to analyze and begin to think differently "How would you deal with such a situation?" or "Wow, I would have never thought of that." You are both stimulated and reminded how important it is to boldly make different choices and not be afraid to do so. After today, I will walk away thinking "I am going to take risks again, and push the envelope" - this is important.
Josefine van Zanten, Head of Leadership Development & Organisational Development, LafargeHolcim
I’m working on my third year with my Council. My company’s always been very supportive of training—seminars, plus we have a robust internal training mechanism. But there’s a point in your career where the returns on that diminish. I tend not to do any other training or education now beyond my Council membership.
Originally I was skeptical of the “no rules, but everything stays in the room” way the Council operates. But it really is a safe place for me to talk about my challenges.
I report to the General Counsel at our company. He’s a man who doesn’t like to sit in meetings. But he’s a member at The Conference Board. He said his experiences with The Conference Board are the only impactful and actionable professional experiences he’s ever found.
Michelle Goret, VP Communication, Cintas
In this group, the exchange is with colleagues from a wider scope, which allows me to discuss various topics, learn from their experience, and provide insights from my own experience.
We can also get inside other functionalities and look beyond. Only if we understand the perspective of other departments can we provide best solutions for companies. The value added of this experience is that network, the interaction, the learning.
Peter Hennke, Senior Vice President, Global Legal Function, Corporate, Regulatory & Litigation
If anyone is thinking of joining a Council, for me, the top two reasons are to get actionable best practices, and The Conference Board’s support with research and facilitating peer networking; making the quality much better than other networks. I came here years ago completely blank, and the experience has been extremely useful. I am still learning every time I come.
Ron Veldheizen, Global Director, ERM & Process Excellence, Royal Friesland Campina
Sometimes you get a fresh look from the outside into your own industry, and it is part of my work to put myself in the shoes of the various stakeholders and understand their interests. The biggest component for me is testing against my own thinking with people from other industries. It allows me to see that while their challenges are different, ultimately, there are large similarities.
Rochus Gassmann, General Counsel Insurance Solutions, Zurich Insurance Group
I've attended two Innovation Leadership Council events where some of the brightest, most passionate people I've ever been around were engaged, sharing, and interested in helping each other. The Conference Board events are professionally led, content-focused, and applicable to the issues I face in my business every day. The events have motivated and challenged me in how I lead my team and drive our innovation culture forward, as well as giving me tools and ideas I would not have known about otherwise.
Jay Henry, Director Innovation & Operations Support, Shaw Industries
It is really nice to be able to talk about this topic with other people who live it, breathe it, understand it: close the door and be really open because of the Chatham House Rule. That collaboration and kindred spirit is something special. It is really enriching from a personal standpoint.
The gift is having this ability to pause and step back and use this time to network, bouncing ideas off peers, and calibrating.
Jacque Vaccaro, HR Functional Shared Services, Siemens AG
For me, what I like about The Conference Board events is I'm surrounded by other practitioners. It's nice to talk to people who are sharing similar experiences, who can share best practices. A lot of them have been in their roles for a lot longer, so it's a good opportunity for me to ask questions and learn from their triumphs.
Shavonne Gordon, Head of Diversity Talent Acquisition, Learning & Employee Resource Groups, Capital One
Meeting with people with similar challenges and solutions- you can be inspired by them. You can truly benefit from their experience. It's also nice to share what you have done that might be innovative or different and get feedback and ideas.
It has impacted my business by reinforcing choices we have made, helping us sell it. It can be very difficult to sell any transformation internally, but with the support of this network we can rely on the fact that others have done it.
Yves Zerbib, Head of HR Operations, Tetra Pak International
At the heart of the value of this experience for me is first: strong senior speakers. These are not professional speakers, but rather high-quality senior practitioners with an intimate knowledge of our environment.
Second, the networking with colleagues; something much more important than quantitative management tools, it is the opportunity to meet decision-makers and senior practitioners in the field and learn about new developments.
Third, compared to CEB, who relies on process-driven data which I can't find an application for, the peer exchange at The Conference Board is the value.
Christopher King, Vice President and General Counsel, Hunter Douglas Management AG
The Conference Board Councils are very international and global, and there is much more analytical and scientific intellectual horsepower behind it compared to other peer networks I am a part of. This comes from both the subject matter experts, and the research and insights. Because of their non-profit, independent status, I can trust the information I receive from them as impartial.
The trust in meetings gives us the ability to present a very realistic picture about what is going on in our own company. This is not glossed over by marketing, but rather a very grounded and honest picture.
Michael Brecht, Vice President Human Resources EMEA, Avery Dennison
Being a member of this forum has enabled real conversations and facilitated pragmatic solutions. I boil the value down to three key things: First, the practicality of the information - you are talking at real solution level, including the pitfalls, not just a having a theoretical debate. Second, you are with equivalent size companies who face similar challenges. Third, the network that you build. Having access to this calibre of people, in a dedicated environment for 24 hours is well worth it.
Alison Dyer, Director, Office of the CISO, Information Protection, GSK
The value of the council programme to me is clear: First, it is the right people, at the right level, in the same room. Second, it is a relatively small and dedicated group of people giving you enough time to network. Third, it is led by members- so we decide on critical topics that are a shared challenge for all of us. This is not a vendor conversation, it is a peer conversation.
Having a direct line to the researcher- access to the expert, or a subject matter expert to present The Conference Board research to you helps you dig in. I use this to make changes/reconfirm my strategies when I go to work or bring insights to my team.
Henrik Ranzau Hansen, Global Head HR Services & Solutions, Philips