If advice is only good when you can use it, a board of directors is only an asset when it can help you steer your company past the inevitable bumps in the road.
To that end, we have again assembled a hypothetical group of local business leaders who have proven their worth and can counsel in many ways the fast-growing companies Music City seems to produce left and right these days. There are literally hundreds of other qualified locals — check out the Entrepreneur Center’s mentor director for starters — but we set out to find talent that checks the boxes on some of the most pressing business issues of the day.
The six members of our 2014 All-Star Board all are standouts in their areas. We can’t guarantee they’ll be available to fill your vacant board seat. But we — and the people who recommended them for our consideration — can vouch for the fact that they’ll be unqualified successes should you be able to tap their expertise.
For more than a decade, Albright has helped shape the place where technology, entertainment and consumer products meet. After starting his career at Bank of America and Coca-Cola, he helped Cox Communications and Liberty Media figure out how to work with and invest in emerging technologies, building a skill set that blends strategy, finance, marketing and the Web.
Starting in 2006, Albright managed a Ticketmaster team focused on acquisitions, which led him to Nashville three years later to overhaul digital marketing agency Echomusic. Echo’s operations were moved to Los Angeles later in 2009, but Albright stuck around to launch Rockhouse Partners, which links brands to consumers in the music and sports industries.
North Carolina-based Etix bought Rockhouse in 2011 and made Albright executive VP of the combined company. Early this year, he left the company to move into his position as lecturer of managerial studies in the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt. He also is a partner in music cataloging start-up Songspace and his network extends to Austin, where he is a board advisor to investment group Source Spring.
Complete Holdings Group
Even in Nashville, few people can bring to the table more experience and insight when it comes to launching, scaling and leading a health care venture. He has had a hand in building and leading health insurer Coventry Corp. and worker’s comp specialists Focus Healthcare Management before helping get Passport Health Communications off the ground in the mid-’90s. He led Passport until 2009 — leading it into revenue cycle management, physician order screening and claims processing — and was its chairman went Britain-based Experian last year paid $850 million to expand its U.S. foothold.
Now, as CEO of Complete Holdings and its EnableComp subsidiary, he is focused back on workers’ comp, this time by helping hospitals “identify and collect every penny they are entitled to for the services they provide injured workers.”
A lot of other founders and other leaders already have figured out the benefit of having Lackey in the fold. He serves on the boards of NextGxDx, PharmMd, Parental Health and espaces, among others.
Any entrepreneur whose company makes stuff and wants to ship it to faraway lands would be wise to seek the counsel of McWilliams, who worked his way up from site manager and operations VP to be named OHL’s president in 1996 and CEO five years later. He stepped aside in 2009 to be executive chairman and focus on acquisitions and international expansion. He is now also the company’s chief customer officer.
Started in 1950 as a storage, moving and rug cleaning business, OHL now runs more than 32 million square feet of warehouse space on four continents and employs more than 7,000 people. Since selling a majority stake to private-equity firm Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe in 2005, the company has grown by more than half and hired more than 4,000 people.
McWilliams worked for Kroger and Super X Food and Drug for nine years in logistics and supply chain management. A director of the Nashville branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, he is very involved with various logistics industry associations and also serves on the boards of Alive Hospice and the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville.
Labeled “one of Nashville’s premier entrepreneurial advisors,” Polk’s specialties are planning and process. A mathematics graduate of Vanderbilt University whose first job was as an analyst at Morgan Stanley, Polk spent seven years at investment firm Solidus helping portfolio companies develop their business model and build the systems to get them toward their goals. Last fall, she joined Brentwood-based back-office support firm W Squared — where her formal title is senior VP of early-stage ventures — to do the same things and more for client companies.
With experience on both sides of angel and venture capital deals, Polk knows what investors want to see in terms of “financial discipline” and the structures that will accommodate growth. At Change Healthcare, where she was CFO for two and a half years, she helped refine strategy and infrastructure to help the company land two round of venture financing.
Polk has been mentoring both at the Entrepreneur Center and Jumpstart Foundry since 2012 and is a member of the advisory boards of several local companies.
Community Health Systems
A “rock star” at what is now the country’s largest hospital owner by number of facilities, Simon is officially CHS’ president of clinical services and chief quality officer. Overseeing the nursing, quality and safety initiatives at the company as well as medical staff relations, clinical integration and informatics puts her front and center for many of the important questions the health care sector is trying to answer.
Simon also is playing point on CHS’ affiliation with The Cleveland Clinic, which is looking to infuse that highly regarded organization’s expertise on clinical integration, data reporting and predictive modeling into CHS’ hospitals. A former practice neurologist, she joined Franklin-based CHS in 2010 after working as vice president of medical affairs at Jewish Hospital in Louisville and chief medical officer of Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare after those two organizations merged. Big M&A/integration experience on top of patient care and operations expertise? Bonus.
Simon earned an MBA from Bellarmine University in Louisville and her medical degree from the University of Louisville. She completed a medical internship at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago and a neurology residency at Stanford University, where she was chief resident in her final year.
If company culture and employee engagement rank high on your priority list — and who’s going to stand up and say those things aren’t important? — Tucker can help you figure out the shortest path to success. He has more than three decades of experience leading human resources groups at companies large and small while also spending plenty of time in the president’s seat.
Working at Nortel in the 1980s and First Data and Northwest Airlines in the following decade, Tucker has built, streamlined and revamped HR structures for organizations with thousands of employees. Along the way, he also had P&L responsibilities for businesses in the restaurant and health care sectors. From 1999 to 2010, he worked at Alliance Data Systems, coming on board as senior VP of HR and administration and leaving as president of its $400 million transaction services group.
A Tennessee State University business management grad, he now chairs the school’s Foundation board. He also is chair of the board at LEAD Public Schools and a director of the Dallas County Community College District Foundation.
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS