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Transparency in Leadership, A Leader’s Insights. Part 1 of 2.

By Grant Spoon

Ann Rhoades, President of People Ink, (Board of JetBlue Airways, and P.F. Changs) talks to Grant Spoon (Chief Geek of People Ink) after recent speaking appearances at the Outstanding Directors Exchange Conference in New York and the JetBlue Airways Leadership Conference in Orlando recently. Outstanding Directors Exchange

Grant S: What kind of topics were discussed at the Outstanding Directors Conferences in New York.

Ann Rhoades. It was great, first of all it was the first time I’ve been on the stock exchange floor when no one was there so it was relatively quiet.  What I learned from that conference was there is a need and some new regulations in terms of what we report as board members and if anything the responsibilities are getting even greater and certainly the responsibility for total transparency.  And those of us who want to stay ahead of the game need to be aware of what is coming down instead of what we have traditionally done.  And, just having a conversation this morning with JetBlue we decided that we will adopt a number of new rules and give more information (in our annual reporting), so that we support what will be the new regulations and even more than that, to do the right thing.

We are becoming even more transparent (at JetBlue).  We’ve always had a policy of doing what was required and a little more but now we are becoming more transparent, for instance we are adding a big part on risk and an evaluation of risk which is one of the new requirements but it’s also something that we really believe in so there’s lots coming out. And more regulation to come I’m sure (laugh).

Grant S. At ODX you spoke on the topic of Risk and Reward: Aligning Exec pay with a companies long term goals.  Are there any breakthroughs or new trends in the industry or in HR management in general that you’ve been telling people about? Specifically about the new regulations or about reporting?

Ann Rhoades. I tell people to be very careful about and very specific about being transparent on the compensation area.  Make sure you have very strong consultants who won’t tell you just what you want to hear but will tell you what the expectation is and what their opinion is as far as what information we should be releasing.  And more importantly how we should release that information so that people understand it that are reading our annual reports, both internal customers, internal shareholders (our employees) and then additional external interests.

Grant S. Are there any specifics that you enjoyed during the JetBlue Operations meeting in Orlando?  For example I know of a comment you made that it was a really fun company (Jetblue) what kind of specifics made it fun, why was it a great meeting?

Ann Rhoades. During our meeting we had a variety of people who are represented and that’s what I love about it, I mean we had person who told me, I own ten shares, so they wanted to come to the annual meeting which is pretty rare, but I thought great.  And afterwards she stopped me and said “I’m so glad I came. I learned more about the company (JetBlue), I might have to buy some more shares”, she’s probably up to 12 by now.

Grant S . I like that enthusiasm.

Ann Rhoades. I love it. The Operations area has a lot of great people.

Part Two on this topic will be posted soon…

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