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Councils (US)

Participating in The Conference Board Councils, Conferences, and using their research has been very helpful in my role. The opportunity to share and learn in a supportive and open environment helped accelerate my learning in a new area, allowed for the testing of ideas and concepts, and accelerated our progress as a company. 

Jeffrey Pratt, GM Enterprise Risk Management, Microsoft Corporation

I find my participation in The Conference Board Councils to be the most professionally enriching activity that I undertake. I feel fortunate to be able to benchmark and share specifics with very knowledgeable representatives from such prestigious organizations. I would prioritize my membership on this council over any other professional development opportunities available. 

Deidre Otts VP Compensation, Eaton

My Council experience has been extremely helpful in my current role. The benefits for me is the interaction with member companies/peer companies as well as sharing experiences from your day-to-day positions. The nature of these interactions is unique because you’re in a shared environment, but the information is held confidentially. It's a more inclusive environment to share than other groups I have been part of or am part of.

Most of the companies I have worked for view the Council membership, view the interaction that you have as being key to being able to perform your position at the company. I think the value of the Councils is sold not only at my level, but higher level, where that support continues.

Becky Bailey, Senior Director Global Benefits & Wellness, eBay 

My Council experience has been extremely helpful in my current role, as there are many ambiguous challenges we deal with this in this space. Often, it’s hard to have confidence that you know what’s happening in the world around you and what things you should be thinking about for the future. When I come to the meetings and am able to share with others as well as listen to what others are dealing with, it really helps me think more clearly about the decisions I make on a day-to-day basis.

Mitch Armbruster, Director, Global Well-Being and Productivity, Eli Lilly 

I am always excited when I have the opportunity to come to the Council. I am always learning more about what others are doing, also recognizing some of our common challenges and issues, and being able to find solutions to our challenges with colleagues. I think there is always a new way of looking at our global commitment to Good Samaritan citizenship as a company; to be a good neighbor, in every place where we live and where we give.

Jacob Gayle, Vice President, Medtronic Foundation 

When you are able to drive the agenda, that ensures you get the value from it, because it’s not some talking head telling you it’s what you should be doing. It is the members talking about the issues that are important to them. And out of that, comes solutions to problems that we all confront.

I’ve looked at other opportunities to be with my peers, but I’m yet to find anything that makes as much sense both from a cost standpoint, a frequency standpoint, and also just how intimately you can get into the issues with a small group and solve problems ad make progress. Tell me what other opportunity you can do to be in a room of people that are your peers talking about the issues that you face that are common to the ones you face. If you are not doing that, if you are not finding that outlet through something like The Conference Board. My question would be, where are you doing that?

Ken Jackson, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Shaw Industries 

There are multiple benefits of being a Council member. One is networking opportunities with peers that lead corporate affairs or government relation functions outside of the pharmaceutical sector. Second is the discussion and presentations of timely topics and issues. The third is benchmarking, what peers are doing in other industries and other sectors to see if you are current in role and in your job function.

One real advantage of the council is that its size is smaller in scope so you really get to know the people that you are spending time with and really get to learn from them in a close knit environment.

Marc Scarduffa, Vice President, Government Relations & Public Affairs, Pfizer

I joined a council out of business necessity. I had been in several HR roles in my company, but I hadn’t been a Head of Learning. You need benchmark with other companies, you need to speak to people in similar roles, you need to understand how they have set strategy; and that was all the kinds of things that I learned from other Council members, which accelerated my ability to be proficient in my role so much more quickly than If I was just trying to read books or contact a few consultants or vendors.

The most valuable thing to me about being a member of this Council is it really gives you thinking space. It gives you an opportunity to step away from the day-to-day, to talk to peers who have similar interests, but different challenges. You have members from investment banking, from technology, from pharma, from consumer goods, but there is a great opportunity to step out of the day-to-day challenge and think about strategic issues, executional challenges that you are confronting, and bat around ideas- which frankly we don’t get a chance to do in our day-to-day work.

Leslie Teichgraeber, Vice President PepsiCo University,  PepsiCo 

The opportunity to engage with my peers is invaluable. You have the right people at the table representing various industries, and creating a safe space to share real challenges along with viable solutions.

Raina L. Washington, VP, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Lockheed Martin Corporation

This Council is a great way to network and gives me the ability to reach out at any time to colleagues that are facing similar challenges and running the same solutions.

Judie Koukol, Director HR, Payroll & Time Reporting IT, AbbVie 

My Council meetings have been transformative in helping me create an organizational strategy for an employee hardship effort. My council colleagues made time to chat with me and my team, bringing along their legal counterparts to answer questions from my legal team. At meetings, we heard presentations from experts in the field, and a council member even hosted my team for an on-site visit with their hardship team so they could see the work real-time and better understand the process and the staffing required.

The Council creates an environment that allows for a free flow of ideas so that we can all serve our employees and communities in the best possible way. My team and I never could have moved as fast as we did and been so prepared in the process if it wasn’t for the connections and willingness to collaborate of my Council peers.

Nicole Anderson, President, AT&T Foundation

Councils offer me a highly professional thought leadership exchange, and a wealth of access to resources, networks, and thought leadership. I appreciate the balance between engaging in strategic dialogue and experiencing relevant subject matter to advance my thinking. The topics we discuss are timely and include helpful real-life applications. 

Tom Scrivner, Senior Manager, Organization Effectiveness, Leadership, Learning and Organizational Capability, Boeing 

Excellent interaction with other council members and outside speakers who are highly relevant to issues that I face in my position...really the perfect combination of practical information, problem solving, professional development and inspiration. 

Scott Nelson, SVP - Strategy, Marketing and Growth, and CMO, ETS 

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. Council members over time become your friends, become your allies, and become a gateway to open opportunities for career progression. Once in a while Council members find themselves out of work, usually due to reorganization. The first thing they do is come back to the Council. There’s a tether there. 

Patrick Carpenter, VP, Communications, Materion

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 

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. 

I think that the ability to help craft the agenda is the reason it’s valuable, and the relationships you form. 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. Many of us Council members are in organizations that don’t have communication as a core competency. So I might have an issue at my company and think it’s isolated. Then I’ll bring it to a Council meeting and find that it’s happening across the board.  

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. When we’re not meeting, my group has robust conversations in benchmarking. I also find value in the reports that The Conference Board publishes, and not necessarily in my business area. For instance, I just downloaded the Fortune 500 philanthropy overview. It’s helpful to me to see what other companies are doing in this area. 

Michelle Goret, VP Communication, Cintas 

I've attended two 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. I am thankful for my organization's membership in The Conference Board and look forward to attending and benefiting from other events. 

Jay Henry, Director Innovation & Operations Support, Shaw Industries 

What I love about The Conference Board is I feel like there’s a balance—there are quite a few very senior people who’ve been doing their job for 20 years, there’re newer people who’ve been doing their jobs for a couple years, and there’s a lot of people who are in the middle. 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. What I’ve found [in other] events I’ve been to, is that a lot of the people who are talking are either more junior than me or don’t have nearly as much experience as I do. 

Shavonne Gordon, Head of Diversity Talent Acquisition, Learning & Employee Resource Groups, Capital One 

I belong to various professional groups and rarely attend their conferences or meetings. The topics we cover at each meeting are very timely and the level of expertise in the room helps us to deepen our understanding of the practice. 

Joseph Whittinghill, Managing Director, Venture Integration Group, Microsoft Corporation

It’s very rare that an organization is able to bring top expertise together to share issues, concerns, strategies, and challenges in an atmosphere of trust. Councils offer this very unique opportunity and allow participants to talk candidly about our challenges, knowing our conversations will not be shared elsewhere. Even though we’re working for different organizations, we feel like we’re a team. 

Karen Vari, Executive Director of Global D&I and Human Resources, Fluor 

The council has been a great benefit to me largely because of the caliber of the people and the quality of the companies that are represented. The companies are world-class in operations and world-class in HR practices. It is an opportunity to learn from what the best of the best are doing, take practices back to my organization, and an opportunity to reach out to other members to test concepts we may be interested in implementing. 

Steve Bartlett, Vice President Human Resources Program, Eaton Corporation 

A terrific opportunity to speak openly with peer-level executives about issues we all face. Despite the diversity of industries represented, there is tremendous commonality in the challenges before us. 

Maura Payne, Vice President, Communications, Reynolds American Inc. 

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. 


If this council had not delivered the value it did in the years since I joined, I would have invested my money elsewhere. Having a group of peers I can trust and with whom I can share best practices, benchmark, and get real-time information that I can leverage immediately is invaluable to me. The strategies and projects I’ve implemented using knowledge shared among the group continue to have a positive impact on our business. 


Better than a high priced consultant or executive coach. Outstanding value! 


From my experience, councils are hugely valuable. The level of best practice sharing and practical application is worth the price of joining. The meetings are often hosted by member companies and occur two or three times per year. In the spirit of continuous improvement and value for the spend, I have found councils to be top notch. 


I find the meetings to be quite informative and it is wonderful to be able to really get to know the other members. In fact, I have already been in contact with a fellow council member seeking advice about Japanese business.