Multitasking to leadership.
Brian Miller, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of AES, believes that handling multiples roles while serving as a true leader to your team will spell success for any governance professional. After demonstrating an array of abilities in the realm of governance at one of the world’s largest power companies, the veteran lawyer was named Corporate Secretary’s 2011 governance professional of the year (small to mid-cap) – a prestigious award that highlights the most outstanding individual in a governance, compliance or legal function.
‘You can have gold-plated, blue-ribbon policies and procedures, as well as strong management, but your governance will be lacking if you do not employ the right people who are committed to good governance and solid business practices,’ says Miller. ‘That culture provided me with the opportunity to lead and/or participate in numerous commercial, business development and strategic growth areas at many of our AES businesses around the globe.’
Since joining the billion-dollar company, Miller has managed to motivate his team while remaining optimistic even in times of crisis. Miller and his team have managed the company through a three-year period in which its financial statements were restated approximately five times. In addition, the SEC conducted an informal inquiry into the restatements. The office of the general counsel was tasked with reviewing the company’s prior accounting of share-based compensation – AES adopted a practice of full cooperation with the SEC, and the federal watchdog brought no formal charges.
Handling these types of governance and compliance challenges requires a special commitment from everyone on the team. ‘Although an individual will officially be a member of the compliance, corporate secretary, environmental, policy, records or legal department, a person’s work in that department is never considered to be limited to a small subset of the department’s work,’ says Miller, who has been general counsel of AES since May 2005. ‘Each member of the team is expected to contribute more than just governance, compliance or purely legal advice.’
In 2010, Miller, pictured left, was asked to accept new business-oriented responsibilities as co-head of the AES Development Steering Committee, which develops the growth initiatives of the company. He also plays an active role in the company’s ‘green’ or ‘renewables’ businesses while serving as a board member for AES Solar. In early 2011, Miller’s team was granted management of the approval/review process for the company’s executive committee.
‘The key to success is to be open, honest, direct, willing to listen and accountable at all times, and to work as a team towards solutions but always be able to lead others,’ Miller says.
To view pictures of the Corporate Governance Awards 2011, click here.
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