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Councils (EU)



I've been with the group for 7 years now and I would say the networking, meeting other people, and coming away with good ideas is incredibly powerful.

For every meeting that I go to there is normally 1 or 2 nuggets of information you take away., where you get a good idea from someone else that you can take back. What works also as well as the networking is that people are at different levels, some are just starting, some are in big companies with very advanced cultures, so no matter who you are talking to there's always someone who gives you another idea for the next step or the next way of doing things which inspires you for what you could do next in your own company.

One of the big advantages of the Council is the ability to ask questions of the group. If I have a question or a list of questions I can ask the group and I know I will get an answer back. That's hugely beneficial in terms of saving time and saving effort and getting some external benchmarking done very quickly. Incredibly helpful when you're running new projects and initiatives in your own company.

Dr. Andrew Jones, Corporate Director, Operational Health and Safety, Tetra Pak - Chair, Health and Safety Council

In the group we can share about our own experience, plans, ideas maybe successes or failures that we have had in running our own health and safety strategies.

For me what's useful is the exchange and getting feedback on ideas, both positive and then constructive in the sense of have you considered this or that point. What is in the room stays in the room, so we can really trust each other and share information openly and this is a great platform.

Michael Ribbe, Head of Group Health, Safety & Environment, Oerlikon - Health and Safety Council

Something different about this group is the energy that comes out of it.

The Research and reports that are put together by the professionals at The Conference Board are very useful to us. They give us a starting point, we get a reliable set of data that tells us on a particular topic what's the state of the art, what's the state of mind of a particular topic. From then on we can compare where we are at as organizations and we can decide what's the path to getting aligned to what the research says, to what the research says will happen, to what the research says in terms of econometrics, in terms of analytics.

Tanguy de Belair, Global Inclusion & Diversity Officer, VINCI - Diversity & Inclusion in Business Council

Every time I come to a meeting I feel I take away one or two things to bring back on what other companies are doing to further inclusion specifically in their organizations. If we don’t learn from each other we’re not going to be able to change the environment outside and we’re not going to be able to promote inclusion within our own organizations. At meetings you can share experiences, and it really accelerates your learning curve. Where are you going to get a chance, in one room, in one day, to have that kind of networking experience and learn from others. The research on D&I from The Conference Board has been very useful for us. Just recently we had the review of the latest research on employee resource groups worldwide. I have taken away key learnings from this that I’m going to take back to make our employee resource groups even more effective.

Kristen Anderson, Chief Diversity Officer, Barila - Diversity & Inclusion in Business Council

I’ve been a member of many groups and committees, as a consultant and as an industry representative, but the Conference Board is different. I particularly like the balance the Council strikes, between presenting the bigger picture and trends, providing detailed insight on topics, and allowing time for members to share openly successes, challenges and experiences to help others.

Peter Mitchell, Environment Director, JTI International SA - Environment & Regulatory Affairs Council

The size of the Council is small, which leaves time for discussions ad allows for building relationships. Meetings are run under Chatham House rules and are consultant free, I always leave these events with several takeaways which help me drive my organization to the next level.

Andreas Scherer, SVP - Head of GBS Finance, ABB - Global Business Services Council

Membership with The Conference Board gives me plenty of insights and benefits. Due to the small and intimate size of councils all members can speak freely and share confidential information from which very enlightening discussions evolve. I joined The Conference Board after recommendations from two council members and I feel honored to be part of the group ever since. The seniority of the members provides me with a great exchange and new views on topics that I have not yet considered or which I have only vaguely identified as challenges. I get to know new approaches in auditing or new areas that need to be audited which can be applied to my company. Takeaways are sometimes based on a very precise statement by a peer or can be derived from a speaker that is selected by the Council Director. For example, I was able to discuss my approach to the Internal Audit Risk Assessment and get reflections from other council members. I have also grown more confident in my position because the exchanges and discussions showed me different ways of coping with certain challenges.

Thorsten Schittges, Head of Internal Audit, Georg Fisher - Chief Audit Executives Council

If I can help someone in the group I am working with, who is struggling with a certain issue and I've already achieved it, I'm more than happy to share that, as to - this is what we did, this is how we did it, these are some of the pain points we went through, this is what I wouldn't do again, or that I would do better the next time, and you share that experience with them and then they take it away. And I think that’s what a Council does, you have that cross-sharing of ideas that you can then use, whichever way you want to.

Susan de Becker, Global Compliance Enablement, Cisco Systems - Executive Commitee Member Compliance and Ethics Council

We're a member of quite a number of initiatives, but this one really stands out. It's one of the rare ones where you get the opportunity to meet with senior colleagues at the same level, who are very open and very prepared to help share and collaborate on a whole host of issues in a very safe environment. One thing that we have found consistently in the council is that a lot of issues we have to deal with from an ethics and compliance perspective are probably 95% of the time challenges that other council members either have had to face or dealt with successfully. Almost a year ago we were able to get very good advice from two Global Fortune 500 companies who are council members about an experience they had had with a particular vendor. We put them through an RFP and a tender and they were rated the top and to be honest we've been very impressed with the implementation and the speed. I'm also actually pleased to know following that feedback a number of other council members have also decided to use a similar tool and technology.

Shahzad Khan, Head of Group Ethics & Compliance, Mubadala - Chair Compliance and Ethics Council

The Total Reward Council is like no other networking group that I am involved in. What makes this group unique is the willingness of all Council members to share their experiences. The overwhelming support you receive with any initiative or challenge, is unprecedented. The diverse and inclusive approach of the Council also means that organisational size doesn’t matter to be a member. This is refreshing for an organisation like mine, in the engineering sector, sitting outside of the FTSE 100 operating in over 50 countries but with a relatively modest headcount.

What is refreshing is that no matter how big or small your organisation may be our world is complex and being a member of the Total Reward Council means that you have access to an extended global team of reward experts. The Council itself prides itself on being member led. This means that we remain authentic, relevant and timely to the real issues that our organisations are facing. We set the agenda and the majority of the time we are sharing our experiences, learning and shaping directions. Overall my experience of the Total Reward Council has been very positive and from every meeting I have brought back to my organisation invaluable insight.

Liz Rose, Head of Group Reward, IMI plc - Total Rewards Council

Looking beyond our own industry when benchmarking for success is key to stay ahead of the competition and to bring the latest talent innovation into our large company. The Council has been a great platform to source new ideas and practices from highly capable subject matter experts from different industries. The exchange with thought leaders from leading companies has provided me with invaluable insights and access to expertise to keep innovating new talent practices in an increasingly competitive talent marketplace and ultimately contribute to accelerated profitable business growth.

Markus Graf, Head of Talent Management, Europe, & Sub-Saharan Africa, Pepsico - Leadership, Talent & Organizational Transformation Council

I have been a member of several councils in the Conference Board throughout my career, and I have always enjoyed them as a safe platform to have open discussion with peers, to learn about industry trends, get fresh inspiration as well as be challenged constructively. I appreciate the fact that the members represent mixture of companies of various sizes, from various industries – and this always gives good external perspective.

Sergei Polianski, Global Talent Management Director, JT International - Leadership, Talent & Organizational Transformation Council

This council provides subject matter experts with access to a peer network of Senior Leaders with similar challenges, opportunities and transformations. The range of companies that you collaborate with are broad and varied both in terms of industries and employee demographics. The peer sharing occurs both during and in between the meetings, so the connections are not superficial. The candour with which we all share, ask and learn from one another is hugely valuable to me personally, professionally and for my organisation. The added benefit of access to The Conference Board’s wealth of research is also something not to be underutilised as part of the membership.

Emma Huxham, Global Talent Management Director, Mars - Leadership, Talent & Organizational Transformation Council

It’s very interesting to be part of a Conference Board Council on the one hand because of the interaction that you have with people who are at really high levels within their organizations. It’s inspirational to see what they are going through, to share learnings, to make those connections. On the other hand the topics we discuss are very much in-depth business topics, even though they come from different industries you can see a lot of applicability in your own day-to-day life — whether it’s on subjects such as: digitalization, AI, or discussions on diversity, finding out how other businesses are dealing with these issues, understanding the similarities, and gaining insights is very useful.

Lieve Beyen, Transformation & Integration Director for Oils and Seeds, Cargill - Global Business Women Leaders Council

The Tax Council not only offers a forum to discuss a wide range of relevant issues with peers, but it also makes you consider priorities. As the working format is based on active discussion and feedback, it both requires and offers me valuable Insights. My key takeaways have been ideas on how we could do some things differently in my company, or in some cases what we shouldn’t do.

Reijo K. Salo, Vice President Corporate Tax, Fortum

My participation in the Strategic Workforce Council gives me a unique possibility to see and understand the approaches used by other member companies to plan their workforce of the future. This insight makes me answerable and self-assured in my own organization re: the options in the field of SWP and their pros and cons. This is made possible by the atmosphere of trust and openness reigning in the council meetings among the members.

Joachim Poesch, Group Pratice Leader Positioning and Strategic Workforce, Solvay

The biggest value I derive from the Council is the fact that I am among colleagues from different countries, different places, representing different sectors and a vast range in diversity of experiences. The key difference I think is the diversity that comes from these backgrounds and these experiences which if I look at it purely from a UK perspective I don't see so much of. What's good for me I think is to know what's happening outside of the UK, in other territories, and other places, and of course to be working with colleagues who don’t always work in similar businesses, but in different sectors and in different jurisdictions, against different legislative and jurisdictional requirements. I find this quite powerful in terms of the time I'm investing with the Council often getting challenges to my understanding, my practices, many of which allow me to take new learnings back to base and apply them to my workplace.

When I think of corporate governance practices that we have in place at my organization I will often be informed by experiences that I've taken away from the Council. And sometimes those are novel, sometimes they are different, sometimes they are challenging, but I think challenge and having a different approach is good it forces you to defend your position, and the more I can do that, the more value I think I can bring back to the firm.

The point I would say that is different for me is the variety of cultures that are brought together. I really like the very sort of European Nexis of the Council, and the fact that it takes me away from the comfort of my home territory. It forces me to change my thinking, open-up to different approaches, different styles people take, and that's really appealing to me. I think being challenged is a good thing and can often yield very positive results not only for me personally, developmentally but also for me to be able to bring back to the firm. 

Ben Mathews, Company Secretary BP, Co-Chair Corporate Governance Council

We have a very spontaneous, and authentic exchange within the group. It’s an open experience with lots of value and there is absolutely no hidden agenda. We have a strong group spirit and that’s partly because we really try to understand each other’s working environments, the value of what we do. For me it’s a matter of sharing the purpose of our companies, whether the product is chemical or financial, it’s about purpose, and the way we go about encouraging our people to perform well.

Christiane Malcorps, Head of Facilities Management & Country Manager, Solvay, Global Business Women Leaders Council

I think what makes The Conference Board Councils different from other peer networks is that on the one hand, the agenda is really driven by the Council members; it's dynamic it's responsive to those topics that are most important to members. The other aspect is the very confidential nature - chatham house rule. I know issues I discuss about things that we're dealing with in our company can be shared with the others and it stays within the walls of The Conference Board.

What I might tell a potential new member thinking about the CG Council. is that It is an enriching professional experience and I believe it enables a company secretary or someone in a similar role to really improve the job they are doing within their company, and also enrich their own professional experience through the exchange with other professionals like themselves.  

Joan Belzer, Corporate Secretary, Credit Suisse, Corporate Governance Council

The uniqueness I think derives from the tapestry of experiences. There is a clear understanding that these conversations are held under Chatham House Rule, strictly confidential. There is an ability to share views amongst people who are from different backgrounds, different experiences, different sectors, which provides a very useful networking opportunity, but also an opportunity to hear how issues are considered in different organizations.

I think for a potential new member considering whether or not to join, there are very few forums out there where you have the opportunity to have these discussions in a very confidential, non-threatening environment. As an investor we often have conversations with companies, but it's very much on a company specific issue, this is opening it up and looking at a whole range of issues which could affect a whole range of companies and investors in our case. I would say that it's a unique characteristic that one wouldn't experience in other forums out there.  

Daniel Summerfield, Co-Head Responsible Investment, USS, Corporate Governance Council

I remember a couple of years ago when I was about to launch a new project in job architecture, and I shared my plans for this with my colleagues from the Council. I immediately had a-number-of companies who had already done this or were planning to do this in the future. This resulted in a few conversations after the council meeting where I was able to connect my team with their teams to exchange experiences, the dos and the don’ts. In this way we were able to take advantage of all that expertise from those other companies that we didn’t have internally.

New members are going to find the openness and transparency of this group unexpected. We do have colleagues that are direct competitors, but in this group, we’ve known each other for a long time and the new-comers join the seasoned members. In this way there is a real legacy of transparency and openness when talking to each other. I think this is one of the most positive surprises of joining the group.  

The Total Rewards Council is not a group for passive listeners, it’s a group for active members. If you are part of the group you will be challenged, you will be asked questions, and you will be expected to share.  

Enrique Zamarbide, SVP Compensation and Benefits, Deutsche Post, Total Rewards Council

I think what’s helpful for the meetings is that you really get food for thought, you don’t just get solutions, that’s more what you might find in small, local networks. In this Council you get the overall picture that each company is-more-or less working on similar topics, but they are at different stages of the journey. I find that I can always use these Council meetings as a benchmark, to see where we are standing in a process and this helps me, either to move forward, or to work out which member I can contact to share one-on-one with after the meeting and align our experiences. This is the big value for me.  

Florian Austerer, Head of Global Reward & Mobility, Hilti, Total Rewards Council

For me, this is the only forum which provides genuine insight into M&A processes and best practices. To discuss deals openly with fellow M&A professionals, each with decades of experience, is quite unique.  

Tim McCleary, SVP - Head of M&A, Norsk Hydro, Mergers & Acquisitions Council

The Procurement Leadership Council, is a perfect platform to exchange ideas, share best practices and participate in peer assists. The group consists of professionals from different industry backgrounds giving a good 360° view of potential insights to common challenges. The Council is smaller than big conferences, allowing members to have more-in depth interactions on common challenges and best practices.

All Council meetings have a “hot” topic on the agenda, which is chosen for a deep dive to gain multiple insights from the members. Supplier Relationship Management was one of the topics 3 years ago, which was a high priority at Danfoss. The experiences shared contributed to finetuning our vision. A great source of value was that one of the council members was invited as an external speaker to our Management Team Meeting to share a best practice on this topic. This has boosted implementation.  

Hans Keeris, Vice President Procurement, Danfoss, Procurement Leadership Council

Being a council member is a perfect way to exchange with peers in a trusted environment. The group drives the agenda, and every council member is respected, and welcome to contribute. Coming back from a council meeting is refreshing and you always have takeaways. I think The Conference Board Councils’ secret is to have a homogenous group with the same interests, which at the same time maintains diversity.  

Franz-Lothar Wolf, Head of Procurement Strategy, SAP SE, Procurement Leadership Council

Council meetings allow for members to exchange some of the major challenges we all face, in a very open, relaxed environment; and learn how colleagues are tackling them. It’s also helpful to realize that other companies are struggling with the same challenges or opportunities. It makes you feel more secure that you are heading in the right direction or making the right decisions. I had my Head of Global Business Services join the Shared Services Council because of this potential for constructive peer-to-peer exchange.

The Conference Board provides a lot of back office support. There are many additional services, resources, and opportunities that you can take advantage of, such as benchmarking and peer-to-peer networking.  

Mathias Margreiter, Member of the Executive Board, Head of Finance, Swarovski, Chief Financial Officers Council

I really enjoy being able to exchange with other CFOs, to ask questions, to share problems in a trusted environment, to gain first-hand experience, and just the general atmosphere of council meetings. That’s why I’m still a member.

Eight years ago, we made an RFP to change our group auditor. I talked to a few colleagues from the Council who had already been through the same exercise, two had done it just the year before. They told me, this is the kind of expense reduction you should aim at. It proved to be quite accurate. It was a very valuable tip, and great for the organization overall.  

What makes this Council different is the fact that it’s not organized by a consultancy or a vendor, where you can be sure there is always a hidden message. That’s not the case with The Conference Board, which is very neutral from this point of view. It’s doing its best to bring value to members, and that makes a difference.  

Jean-Yves Bieri, Chief Financial Officer, Maus Freres, Chief Financial Officers Council

I find the open discussions in the Shared Services Council extremely useful. It’s a great platform for meeting peers, discussing trends, and sharing honest insights into both good, and bad practices. This is increasingly important in an agile world of rapidly developing digital technologies and possibilities – especially for Shared Services.  

Kai-Eberhard Lueg, Corporate VP Business Process Shared Services, Siemens, Shared Services Council

I would say the top benefit for joining a council is the intensive and valuable exchange on Human Capital Analytics with peers from other companies. In contrast to “normal conferences”, at council meetings we have honest discussions based on trust that was built over time. People are really open to share, no one is trying to market or sell you something.  

Dr. Ruth Kuchem, VP HR Analytics & Reporting, Deutsche Post, Human Capital Analytics Council

The Conference Board promotes an environment of trust and collaboration where topics of common interest are openly discussed. I have not only expanded my network, but also made good friends.  

Marcus Mourao, Security Technology Services Manager, Nestle, Cybersecurity and Risk Management Council

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? The Conference Board Councils focuses on the building of relationships and the leveraging of those relationships after the meeting. The meetings give me a chance to not only build these peer relationships, but discuss the material I have access to with my company’s membership.

Sheila O’Connor, Group Risk and Compliance, Electricity Supply Board (ESB) 

The beauty of this experience is the group size; that we are all senior professionals at similar or with 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. I take advantage of the great networking and very often, after a meeting, I will visit my fellow members. Also, the meetings are not overrun by vendors, consultants, brokers — it is a peer to peer conversation.

Dider O'Dorico, Director Risk Management, Tetra Pak International

I have been part of a local peer network in the Netherlands, but the network at the Conference Board is more focused on my main topic of concern, strategic risk. The real value for my company is that the discussions here are more in-depth, and the quality of those discussions is superior and actionable. The format of the Council attracts more senior people and as a consequence, that experience makes the discussion richer. As a company, we have several senior executives as active members of many of The Conference Board Councils.

The opportunity to have the support of The Conference Board, who stimulates networking amongst peers, is great. In fact, my company stopped our involvement in all other peer networks, and only uses The Conference Board. Good value for money. 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 

The opportunity to come together with companies in the niche area of HR Operations, and talk about the business operating model and technology is rare. In fact, our council’s members have been able to crystalize new language specific to our field. It’s not only the level of discussion we have amongst peers, it is the access to the research The Conference Board offers members, particularly those that focus on global emerging trends that is key. 

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 

The value for 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. I think our space always has a strong willingness to share and learn, which helps the discussion.

And the fact that members drive the agenda topics is critical and we spark it with research from The Conference Board, adding value to the topics. 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 

I have been part of other peer networks but this one is both more international and more focused- on HR Operations- not just HR. Others networks may be focused on a regional or country level, but the fact that this is global makes it more valuable for me. 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 

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. To have the opportunity to hear or learn and see how they deal with that is great.The value for me lies in: presentations from experts which are helpful to trigger rich discussion, the mix of sessions, and that The Conference Board can facilitate this peer discussion- that there is someone to drive it. 

Rochus Gassmann, General Counsel Insurance Solutions, Zurich Insurance Group 

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, Fresenius Medical Care 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. 

From my point of view, the peer conversations- sharing my experiences and those of my colleagues and comparing notes- is hugely valuable. I can also use this network in daily life, outside of meetings, to call a colleague who may have mentioned a project I need input on. This trust comes partly from the very open climate in the meetings. On one hand it is open, but on the other it is confidential, which allows that openness. It 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 

It’s been great to see the trust build within our council over the past year. It has enabled us to network and share best practices with companies with similar complexities and challenges that we would not usually have easy access to. I have recently arranged for a visit to a fellow member’s site - a pharmaceutical company talking to a competitor about security is really beneficial. 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