Walmart’s new lead independent director – more of the same?

Jim Cash

Jim Cash

Jim Cash is the Walmart board’s new lead independent director, replacing Jim Breyer. Cash hasn’t been a particularly high-profile board member—so let’s take a look together at who he is and what home office employees, shareholders and associates can expect from him.

Dr. Cash was a professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School for nearly 30 years, focusing on information technology. He and his wife have since moved from Massachusetts to Sarasota, Florida, where they live a short drive from Lee Scott and where Dr. Cash runs an executive consulting firm called The Cash Catalyst.

Cash joined the Walmart Board in 2006, and since 2007, he has been on the audit committee—the same audit committee that apparently failed in its role of ensuring proper internal controls but is nonetheless at the helm of the company’s current internal investigation into the allegations. Walmart is now paying Cash and his fellow audit committee members extra money for bribery investigation-related work.  It should be noted that this is work the  committee failed to do the first time around.

Dr. Cash is a rather busy man, not unlike his predecessor, Breyer, who was criticized for being severely overextended. Cash seems to be cut from the same cloth: On top of his consulting work, he is a director or advisor of two public companies (The Chubb Corporation and General Electric), three private companies, two investment firms, and two non-profits. Oh, and he’s a limited partner in the Boston Celtics ownership group.

As we’ve said before, we get it: We know Walmart directors are in-demand leaders. It’s unrealistic to suggest that directors shouldn’t have any other outside commitments. But right now, Walmart is facing a sea of difficulties and the strength and independence of its board is in question. Walmart associates and shareholders must be assured that changing Walmart is a top priority for directors.

Naming someone who is implicated in the failures of the audit committee and whose time is stretched thin across myriad organizations does not inspire confidence.

What do you think?  Leave your comments below.   

What do you think?