November 21, 2008

Company directors caught in time crunch

The economic downturn has put a time crunch on corporate directors who are leaving U.S. corporations to attend to executive demands elsewhere, data show.

This year, 46 directors who have executive duties of their own -- chief financial officers and chief executive officers -- have quit the boards of corporations in industries that could benefit from experienced help: Financial services, retail and residential construction, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Directors reporting a time squeeze have left the boards of high profile companies such as Ford Motor Co. and American International Group Inc., the Journal reported.

Ellen Kullman, president and designated CEO of DuPont Co. is under pressure from DuPont board members to resign her board seat at General Motors Corp., a source said.

Kullman lacks time to breathe, the source told the Journal.

Board service is a good idea, said Humana Inc. CEO Michael McCallister.

But, when the going gets tough, CEOs stay closer to home.

George Davis at Egon Zehnder International told the Journal six CEOs he had been recruiting for board seats pulled their names from consideration after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. declared bankruptcy in September.

Their own boards told them, keep your hand on the tiller, Davis said.