Live Event: The Public Company Board Chair - Perspectives from Current Chairs at Tech Companies

Host­ed by the Asso­ci­a­tion for Cor­po­rate Growth and Mod­er­at­ed by Mark Lonergan

This invi­ta­tion-only event brought togeth­er a statured pan­el of cur­rent pub­lic com­pa­ny Board Chairs to dis­cuss the very spe­cial nature of the Chairperson’s role. These pan­elists includ­ed: Pen­ny Her­sch­er (Chair — Lumen­tum), Chuck Kiss­ner (Chair — Ram­bus), and Ned Barn­holt (Chair — KLA). 

Our ACG panelists and moderator
Our pan­elists and mod­er­a­tor; pho­to cour­tesy Susan Lonergan

At this invi­ta­tion-only event, the top­ics dis­cussed included:

  • The spe­cial nature and con­tent of the Chair’s role on a pub­lic com­pa­ny board of directors
  • The rela­tion­ships that the Chair is expect­ed to cul­ti­vate: with the board, with senior man­age­ment and even with investors
  • The Chair’s role in build­ing board eval­u­a­tion pro­grams – and then pro­vid­ing feed­back to indi­vid­ual board members
  • The role of Chair and board as younger gen­er­a­tions are tak­ing over roles on the senior lead­er­ship team. 
  • Com­mu­ni­ca­tions with senior man­age­ment from the Chair, and espe­cial­ly the Chair’s rela­tion­ship with the CEO
  • The Chair’s role in build­ing board agen­das, stay­ing focused on strate­gic issues 
  • Dif­fer­ences between for­mal and infor­mal com­mu­ni­ca­tions from the Chair
  • The Chair’s role in build­ing a board culture

Our Panelists

Pen­ny Her­sch­er, Board Chair

Pen­ny Her­sch­er is an expe­ri­enced tech­nol­o­gy CEO, based in Sil­i­con Val­ley, who took her first com­pa­ny, Sim­plex Solu­tions, pub­lic and then sold it to Cadence Design Sys­tems in 2002. She was Pres­i­dent & CEO of two tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies, Sim­plex and FirstRain, over the last 20 years. She is a math­e­mati­cian and mar­ke­teer, CEO and coach, who has deep exper­tise in lead­er­ship, enter­prise GTM, gov­er­nance and exec­u­tive com­pen­sa­tion, in M&A and pub­lic com­pa­ny struc­tur­al change (spins), in lead­ing large teams and build­ing star­tups from the ground up. Ms. Her­sch­er serves on four pub­lic com­pa­ny boards: Lumen­tum, Fau­re­cia SA, PROS and Verint Sys­tems and two pri­vate com­pa­ny boards: Del­phix and Mod­ern Health.

Pen­ny holds a BA Hons, MA in Math­e­mat­ics from Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty in England.

Chuck Kiss­ner, Board Chair

Chuck Kiss­ner also serves as chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of Dig­i­tal Pil­lars, a pri­vate infor­ma­tion sys­tems com­pa­ny. He has also served as Chair­man of the Board of Shore­Tel Inc. Pri­or, he served on the Shore­Tel Nom­i­nat­ing and Gov­er­nance Com­mit­tee, Audit Com­mit­tee and Com­pen­sa­tion Com­mit­tee. He also served as Chair­man of Avi­at Net­works and from June 2010 to July 2011, he was both Chair­man and CEO. He was also a mem­ber of the board of Meru Net­works, where he served on the Audit Com­mit­tee and Com­pen­sa­tion Com­mit­tee. From 1995 to 2006, he served as Chair­man and CEO of Stra­tex Net­works, a glob­al provider of wire­less trans­mis­sion solu­tions. Chuck pre­vi­ous­ly was Vice Pres­i­dent and Gen­er­al Man­ag­er of M/A‑COM, Inc., Pres­i­dent and CEO of Aris­ta­com Inter­na­tion­al, Exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of Fujit­su Net­work Switch­ing, Inc., and held a num­ber of exec­u­tive posi­tions at AT&T. His not-for-prof­it board ser­vice includes the NPR Foun­da­tion, Angel Flight, Inc. and KQED Pub­lic Media. 

Chuck holds a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence degree from Cal­i­for­nia State Poly­tech­nic Uni­ver­si­ty and a Mas­ter of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion degree from San­ta Clara University.

Ned Barn­holt, Board Chair

Ned Barn­holt has served as Chair­man of the Board of KLA since Octo­ber 2006. He pre­vi­ous­ly served as Pres­i­dent and Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer at Agi­lent Tech­nolo­gies, Inc., and as Chair­man of the Board of Direc­tors at Agi­lent. Pre­vi­ous to Agi­lent, Ned held crit­i­cal roles at Hewlett-Packard, where he ulti­mate­ly became Exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent and Gen­er­al Man­ag­er of the Mea­sure­ment Orga­ni­za­tion. He cur­rent­ly serves on the Board of Trustees of the Packard Foundation.

Ned pos­sess­es sig­nif­i­cant lead­er­ship expe­ri­ence, which includes mat­ters par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant to com­pa­nies with com­plex tech­nol­o­gy and inter­na­tion­al busi­ness. Ned’s his­to­ry as a board mem­ber of KLA pro­vides him with an exten­sive knowl­edge of our busi­ness and indus­try, while bring­ing strong cor­po­rate gov­er­nance exper­tise to the board.

Ned holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing from Stan­ford University.


The event was held at Flem­ing’s in Palo Alto, on a beau­ti­ful heat­ed and cov­ered out­door patio, for improved Covid safety.