A year of firsts: AXA Equitable Holdings’ governance head discusses the company’s change in ownership

Dec 27, 2019
Highlights from the Corporate Governance Awards 2019

When Jessica Olich joined AXA Equitable Holdings as its vice president, senior assistant secretary and associate general counsel in September 2018, it was a different company to the one that she now works at.

In the fall of 2018, the company was controlled by its French parent company, AXA. But by the end of March 2019, following three rounds of secondary offerings, AXA’s share of the company had fallen to 48 percent – meaning that AXA Equitable Holdings was no longer a controlled company. Olich, who was nominated for the governance professional of the year (large cap) award, played a starring role in each round of the secondary offerings and the subsequent governance changes that ensued.

‘It’s been a really exciting year for AXA Equitable Holdings,’ Olich said, speaking to Corporate Secretary on the red carpet at the Corporate Governance Awards. ‘We’re a newly public company being sold down by its French parent company. With each sell down there’s been major governance changes – mostly changes in directorship, leadership of the board, and [progress] towards an ethnically-diverse, gender-diverse and experience-diverse board, which is just great.’

It was a year of governance firsts for the company, and Olich paved the way when it came to initiating shareholder engagement efforts, producing the proxy statement (including last-minute changes to the board’s composition following the third offering to the market), and preparing for the company’s first annual meeting.

When asked how she prepared for the annual meeting, Olich said: ‘I started with a lot of education. While the enterprise is a very sophisticated one, it hasn’t gone through a public company annual meeting in any recent history. So that’s where we started – every department pitching in and talking about how we wanted to make the annual meeting a success.’

Click here to watch the full video interview.

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