Comment: The chairman shapes the direction

As the current debacle at Siemens continues to unfold, amid allegations of widespread bribery, the company's new chairman Gerhard Cromme faces a daunting task.

by Morice Mendoza, editor
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

He has already appointed a new CEO - Peter Loscher, from US pharmaceutical group Merck, who will take over from Klaus Kleinfeld in July. But over the longer term, he faces the much bigger challenge of re-establishing the firm's reputation.

The importance of the role of the chairman is not as visible to the public eye as that of the CEO; nonetheless, it is critical in shaping the long-term direction of a company. This is sometimes forgotten in the business press, where the CEO is generally considered to be the key player and, for better or worse, gets most of the attention. Chairs need to have a specific set of skills to do the job well; they also need deep reserves of courage and confidence, and a clear sense of the company's direction. What then does a world-class chairman look like? To answer this question, we have selected 12 of them for our cover story on page 16.

Our special report on the Middle East and North Africa reports on Dubai's extraordinary growth over the past few decades, part of a deliberate strategy to become a business hub to rival Singapore. So successful has the Dubai model of free zones been that it has inspired copycat models elsewhere. One such is at Tangiers in Morocco, where a new port will open next month - Tanger-Med's hope is that it will soon join Dubai on the list of the world's top 15 ports.

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