Monthly Archives: March 2014

John Gapper

General Motors CEO Mary Barra

General Motors’ widening of the recalls of US cars and trucks for safety and other defects is a challenge for Mary Barra, its new chief executive, as she prepares to testify to Congress this week. Read more

John Gapper

Satya Nadella’s unveiling of Office for the iPad is a significant moment for Microsoft, and his leadership of the company. I wonder if it will also be an incentive to improve the product itself?

I write this because Word in particular still strikes me as a product that is too big to fail. The network effect of so many companies using it makes individuals follow suit but it is bloated and irritatingly full of bugs. Read more

General Motors and Malaysia Airlines are both in trouble but one is giving a lesson in how to handle a fatal crisis while the other is offering a masterclass in how not to. There is a glaring contrast in the behaviour, and ability to cope with public criticism, of Mary Barra, GM’s chief executive, and Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, the chief executive of Malaysia Airlines – although Ms Barra has a simpler task.

Andrew Hill

My first reaction to the latest news of changes at the top of the Murdoch empire was: did the shrink get involved?

Succession planning at family businesses is often full of unlikely twists and shrieking. After the phone-hacking scandal broke over Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspapers in 2011, Vanity Fair claimed that the Murdoch siblings had discussed succession with a “family counsellor”, partly in an attempt to smooth the process. Read more

Andrew Hill

Leo Strine – comforter of the corporate executive? (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Has shareholder democracy in the US gone too far? The very idea seems risible to Europe-based corporate governance advocates, myself included, who have watched American investor rights advance in a good direction, but at a snail’s pace. But those making the case now for limiting investor powers have a strong, prominent, and eloquent ally in Leo Strine, Delaware’s chief justice. His latest Columbia Law Review article, ostensibly arguing for a pragmatic version of investor democracy, is a must-read. Read more

If you had asked board directors at the beginning of last week which of two situations – the stand-off between Russia and Ukraine in Crimea, and the forthcoming British Budget – was politically riskier, they would have chosen the first. But for a few insurers involved in the lucrative business of offering annuities to pensioners, Britain turned out to be the more perilous place after George Osborne, the UK chancellor, astounded them by announcing reforms that could cut the size of that market by 90 per cent.

Emma Jacobs

Marian Robinson with Barack and Malia Obama

Michelle Obama’s secret weapon for this week’s China trip has been unveiled: she is taking her mother Marian Robinson along, as well as her two daughters. Dubbed “grandma diplomacy“, it is seen as a way of charming the Chinese, who place greater emphasis on tight family bonds than their American counterparts. Read more

Andrew Hill

Two images stand out from the 30% Club’s latest report into why relatively few women make it to the highest echelons of UK companies.

Both illustrate that the main problem with gender imbalance lies in the executive committee and below – the so-called “talent pipeline”. A man starting his career at a FTSE 100 company is 4.5 times more likely to reach the executive committee than a women, the research says. This is how far short big UK companies fall:

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