The right stuff
As she demonstrated in an interview shortly after accepting Leadership California’s 2012 Corporate Leader Award on behalf of Chevron, Lydia Beebe understands and embodies the right stuff in governance. As corporate secretary and chief governance officer since 1995, she sees her role as helping Chevron to ‘make good decisions the right way, at the right levels of authority, with the right people involved, and the right information in front of them.’ Under her direction, Chevron adopted its corporate governance guidelines, created a nominating/governance committee on its board, substantially revised all the board’s committee charters, and established a review process for director independence and an orientation program for new directors.
As chair of the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals in 2007 and 2008, Beebe spearheaded several significant initiatives, including succession planning and development for the board, as well as a range of technological improvements. Corporate Secretary honored her as corporate secretary of the year in 2009.
Beebe is a role model for women not only in the governance profession but also in executive circles. The first woman to become a corporate officer at Chevron, she has brought her insight to the advisory boards of two well-respected academic centers for the study of corporate governance: Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance, and the Weinberg Center at the University of Delaware.
‘She is so sage in her advice, thoughtful and encouraging, particularly of women executives, both those who are lawyers and those making the leap to general executive roles,’ says Daniel Siciliano, faculty director at the Rock Center.
Despite her efforts and those of other women executives to mentor women over the years, Beebe says: ‘We don’t have nearly enough women in the C-suite. I try to mentor anyone who seeks my advice. They don’t all have to be women, but it tends to be that the women seek you out. I try to give them encouragement to follow their dreams, to do what they want to do, but to try to chart a path for themselves.’
Beebe says she would welcome the opportunity to sit on a corporate board based on all she’s seen and the many business strategy discussions she has participated in during her career. But she sees a need for a paradigm shift away from the belief that only people who have run a business operation belong on boards and toward a broader vision of board qualifications.
As she prepares to retire from Chevron in March, Beebe has taken on a senior role on the Stanford Institutional Investors’ Forum. She also serves on the governing boards of the National Association of Corporate Directors of Northern California and the San Francisco Symphony.
For photos of the awards, click here.