Take the High Road to Success in Your Corporate Governance Role

by Tom Hanlon

“You will all be in corporate governance roles,” R. Trent Gazzaway told accounting students at a recent Department of Accountancy Lyceum in the Deloitte Auditorium. “Whether you are a CFO of a company or a tax auditor or on a board of directors for a for-profit organization or a not-for-profit organization, you will be in a governance role.”

And those governance roles have never been more challenging or rewarding, said Gazzaway, who is national managing partner of audit services for Grant Thornton. The stake are high, and the best-intentioned people find themselves in the direst of straits if they don’t respond correctly to the ethical dilemmas that inevitably crop up in governing corporations.

“What you don’t know can hurt you,” Gazzaway said. “You need to stop and think about what’s the right way to act. Think through the issue in rational fashion.” Those in governance roles, Gazzaway said, need to take Ronald Reagan’s stance regarding U.S. relations with the Soviet Union: Trust, but verify. Trust that things are going the way they should