Board development programme
As one of the largest players in Scandinavia, Arla Foods has to focus on growth markets in the rest of the world. However, it is one thing to make a strategic decision and another to agree on what the decision will mean for the Board’s work in practice. The Chairman of the Board and the CEO decided to complete a Board development programme to ensure mutual understanding and facilitate future collaboration.
“One of our objectives is to grow by 50%. This requires that our Board works with the right agenda,” Henrik Damholt Jørgensen says. He serves as Board Secretary and has previously worked as project manager.
Minor matters must be delegated to others
H&B were appointed as consultants to ensure progress, contribute to methodology and make sure that any difficult discussions were resolved along the way.
“The challenge was to convince the Board members to decide on the right agenda. They are typically very competent farmers who feel a need to deliver also when members contact them with very detailed questions. However, if Arla Foods is to develop a global presence, the Board must take time to carry out the main items on the strategic agenda while delegating minor matters to others,” Henrik explains.
Ready for the new role
After external presentations and productive discussions, the Board members fully understood their new roles and created some sustainable structures to support them. As an example, they established a new committee structure and an annual cycle of work that determines what factors to deal with and when.
Henrik is of the view that today, Arla is much more focused on the company’s long-term strategic position than before the work began. Now they must stay focused and implement the changes required by external parties.
“If we grow at the expected rate, it is anybody’s guess what the Board will look like in a couple of years. Who should be on the Board, how many members it should have, or how we encourage more foreigners involved. We don’t have all the answers, but we have taken some steps that have made others pay attention and get on board.”
Arla Foods is owned by 12,500 farmers in seven countries; the company has 19,000 employees and takes delivery of 13.9 billion kilos of milk every year, corresponding to a net turnover of DKK 71.42 billion.