Board members, a guide to get on board your CeO

Board members, a guide to get on board your CeO

a great post from pulse…..

MALTAway is for your governance and board  members

alberto balatti_murakami

When we work with boards of directors to help them prepare to interview CEO candidates, we develop an interview guide that will organize the conversation, which typically runs for 90 minutes.  While interviews are only one step in a CEO hiring process, along with in-depth referencing and executive assessments, it is not an over-statement to say that they are the lynch-pin in the process.

Boards and search committees will always put credence in analyzing track records and relevant experience, reviewing written reports, and talking to referees.  But it is in the interview where chemistry is established and essential intangibles like passion, energy, and fit are determined.  As a result, at the CEO level, as well as at every step in your career, being a strong interviewer is a major advantage.

In conducting CEO candidate interviews, many questions posed by a search committee are, of course, customized to the company’s particular situation.  But many of the questions are based on the essential areas in which a CEO needs to demonstrate capability: strategy and vision; growth, financial, andoperational management; leadership and team building; and Culture.

Here is the interview guide that we recently created for a board as part of a public company CEO search.

If you are an active or aspiring CEO candidate, it will serve you well to be prepared to answer these types of questions.  Even if you’re not yet at the CEO level, reflecting on these questions will give you an edge when you prepare for your next big job interview.


The typical CEO interview begins with the chair welcoming the candidate, thanking them for coming and inviting the members of the search committee to introduce themselves.  He or she will then tell begin with what I believe is the best opening question:

“You have had a chance to begin to get to know our company.  Why do you think this could be the right opportunity for you at this point in your career and why do you think you might be the right leader for us?”

The best candidates will answer this with a crisp 4 to 6 minute narrative about their career, their relevant experience, their professional interests and aspirations, and a top-line assessment of the opportunity.  Often times this is the most important question of an interview, because as we all know, first impressions are lasting impressions.  It is in this questions, along with the hellos, handshakes, and introductions, where those all-important first impressions are made.


From that point, each area of CEO capability are probed, with selections from the following questions (all of these questions would require several hours of discussion):

Growth, Financial, and Operational Management

  • Describe an instance where you have driven a company or business to accelerate growth, expand EBITDA and profitability, increase efficiency and enhance shareholder return. What was the vision and what needed to change?  How did you get the organization to respond?  What was the outcome?
  • Describe your experience managing significant budgets and P&Ls. How did you prioritize your investments?  What process did you use to gain support?  What have been your experiences with tough decisions regarding budget cuts, restructuring or reallocating resources?
  • With an example or two, tell us about how you have grown or changed a business or an organization through strategic partnership, joint venture or acquisition. What was the long-term effect on your business?
  • Have you ever created and/or launched a new product or business that resulted in a new revenue stream? 

Strategy and Vision

  • What do you think are the most-important strategic priorities for our company over the next three years? What would you do as CEO to achieve success against these priorities?
  • How have you developed strategy when your business faced new market entrants and competitive threats? What were the short- and long-term goals that you put in place?  How did you involve others in designing and implementing change? What was the result?
  • Describe your experience managing an organization as it creates new business models, products, content or initiatives that are essential to the company’s growth. How did you develop a vision and a strategy to support it?  How did you communicate and gain buy-in from key constituents as the organization evolved?  What were the results?

Leadership and Team Building

  • How would you describe your management style? How would your staff and peers describe you?  What would they say are your major strengths and/or weaknesses as a leader or manager?  Where do you think you might improve?
  • Explain some of the different environments that you have worked in. Where have you been at your very best?  Describe the environments in which your leadership style is most effective.  Where have you been frustrated and less successful?
  • With an example or two, tell us something about your communications style in the workplace with your direct reports, your superiors and your staff more broadly? Also with the external community – clients, and investors?
  • Tell us about a time when you took over a team that had been under the leadership of another person for a long period of time. What did you do to build support, rapport, trust and followership quickly?


  • Like many companies we are experiencing changes in our operating environment due to continued digital transformation, the shifting patterns of content consumption and aggressive competitors. What have you done to implement technology improvements, e.g., platform integrations, new enterprise management systems?
  • Can you share a time when you have had to expand a core product set through innovation, and particularly in a mobile environment?
  • How would you bring greater innovation to our company? What innovations have you led at other businesses that are most germane?
  • What business that has adopted new technology and evolved their business model do you admire most? Why?   


  • What is most important and valuable to you? What serves as a guiding principal in your life?
  • Think back and share a story about a personal life experience that defines who you are today. What was the value/lesson?
  • How have you changed cultures to facilitate innovation?

Other Questions (if not previously addressed)

  • What is your assessment of where our company stands today? From your vantage point, what is the company doing right and what needs to change?
  • What do you believe would be your biggest obstacles to succeed as the next CEO? What development needs and gaps in skill/experience will you need to pay attention to, and how will you address them?
  • Can you give us an example of where a gap in skill/experience led you to be less effective than desired? What have you done to ensure you do not fall into the same trap again?
  • Describe one or two specific accomplishments that you are especially proud of over your career and why.
  • How would you approach your first 100 days in the job? How would you learn the business, build trust, generate buy-in, and develop a plan?

And finally, the all-important concluding question:

“What questions do you have for us?”

 * * *

Be prepared to answer these types of questions and you will maximize your chances of acing the interview and getting a step closer to your next big job.

Why US and not Europe or Asia are leading the Corporate world, Google has a new CEO, Sundar Pichai

Why US and not Europe or Asia are leading the Corporate world, Google has a new CEO, Sundar Pichai

Could you just only imagine to have this guy as the new CeO of the biggest listed Italian corporation in Italy ( in any case remember it ‘ll be 1000 times far away from Google capitalization) ???

NOoooooo for sure, and that’s why Italy has already failed as a country, as a system as a model.
The main reason is that Italians always feel to be the number 1….we do not need others….
The problem is not to be proud of yourself, but to perceive and react to the diversity (the key concept under the biological evolution theory) and different thinking not as values, but simply as a dangerous risk and as a threat to the status quo…..

This homologous cultural model is the perfect fitting way to lead the country on the path of the extinction, because you cannot attract what you don’t want.
This kind of countries, are systematically reducing their attraction capacity and their talent base, being unable to capture the best people from the world and instead reducing the diversity inside their teams.

It is very tough to be aware about it, but my advice is to move and live in a country really engaged with the practice of Collaborative Intelligence (Thinking with People who think differently) and you will evolve as well with the people and the environment around you …..and that matters a lot.


collaborative intelligence

Former Chrome and Android head Sundar Pichai will be Google’s CEO.

Many are still unfamiliar with Google’s new chief executive, who first joined Google in 2004 and eventually worked his way up to be Page’s right-hand man.

Originally from Tamil Nadu, one of India’s 29 states, Pichai studied at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, where he received a Bachelor of Technology.

He then received a M.S. from Stanford and obtained an MBA from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. At Wharton, Pichai was honored as a Siebel Scholar and a Palmer Scholar.

Before his first job at Google, Pichai worked at Applied Materials as an engineer and then at McKinsey & Company in management consulting.

Sundar Pichai

Are they Overpaying the New CEO (MSFT)? As a shareholder do you approve the scheme?

Compared To Apple And Yahoo, Are they Overpaying the New CEO (MSFT)? 
With Nadella, Microsoft has crafted a brand new pay-for-performance model.

Investor watchdog organization Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) caused a stir last week by telling Microsoft investors that Satya Nadella’s pay package was too high.

Nadella was granted a starter kit of stock valued at about $65 million which won’t begin to vest until 2019. Plus, he got another one-time stock grant worth $13.5 million in August 2013 to keep him around during the CEO search process. It vests over seven years.

In 2014, his base salary is $918,917 for a role he assumed in February. (ISS calculates his full year base at $1.2 million) and a cash bonus of $3.6 million.

So Nadella will be eligible for an annual $13.2 million stock award, with a complicated vesting schedule, that he’ll unlock if he hits certain performance targets.

“Over 80% of the reward opportunity is performance-based measured by our total shareholder return (“TSR”) relative to the S&P 500. To earn the target value of this award, Microsoft’s TSR must exceed the 60th percentile of the S&P 500 over each of three overlapping five-year performance periods that extend to 2021

By the way, Microsoft also agreed to a $17.4 million golden parachute.


  • Oracle is paying its new co-CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd $37.7 million apiece for their first year. That was a pay cut from $44 million the year before. (Larry Ellison is making $67 million in 2014).
  • Tim Cook was granted a staggering $378 million one-time stock grant when he took over as CEO, which has vastly grown in value. Between a $4 million salary and about $70 million of his stock options that vested, he made $74 million in 2013.
  • Marissa Mayer was paid $36.6 million her first year as the CEO of Yahoo.