As one who has consulted with boards and recruited directors for some of the country's largest corporations, I read with interest John Byrne's "The CEO and the board" (Cover Story, Sept. 15) which focused on governance policies and practices at H.J. Heinz Co. In helping companies build top-quality boards and revise their governance practices to avoid criticism, we have often used Campbell Soup as an example of a company whose governance practices merit emulation.
The chart in the article entitled "Does good governance pay?" presents the stark contrast between the practices of Campbell and Heinz, suggesting that the answer to the question is a resounding yes. It must be noted, however, that there are a great many factors that ultimately determine the performance of a company, and it is risky to draw big conclusions from small samples. We won't know if this is the tip of an iceberg until we look beneath the surface.
Charles H. King
Senior Partner, Board Services
I had the privilege of serving on the Heinz board for seven years (1989-96) and working for Anthony J.F. O'Reilly for many more. The board was unique in its experience, wisdom, global perspective, and integrity. It operated in a totally open forum marked by debate and wise counsel. This is one of the primary reasons why Tony O'Reilly and Heinz have produced an extraordinary 22% annualized return to its shareholders for 20 years.
David W. Sculley