Lucian A. Bebchuk, William W. George, and Ben W. Heineman Jr., Harvard
A consummate proponent of shareholder activism, and a sometimes participant, Harvard’s Lucian A. Bebchuk is among the most influential academics on the corporate governance scene In addition to being professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and former CEO of device maker Medtronic, William W. George currently serves as a director of Exxon Mobil and Goldman Sachs, and is a frequent critic of those who shirk their executive duties. Earlier this year, he took Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda to task for not accepting responsibility for problems at the automaker. Ben W. Heineman Jr. is a distinguished senior fellow at Harvard Law School and senior fellow of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government. In 1987, Heineman became general counsel and secretary of GE. He is senior counsel at WilmerHale. Esteemed Harvard Professor Jay W. Lorsch was inducted into the Corporate Governance Hall of Fame, Class of 2009.
Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, Yale School of Management
As far as business professors go, few earn such a high profile as Yale School of Management’s Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld. Journalists, cable news producers and corporate directors seek his keen insight. In recent months, the Harvard trained Sonnenfeld has looked with a critical eye on Obama’s regulatory stance, which he says has jeopardized his relationships with big business and the public in 2010. While President Obama came to office with support from many business leaders who even donated to his campaign, Sonnenfeld argues: “The relationship has been deteriorating both in public…and backstage.” He has also been critical of finger-pointing and a lack of accountability where big companies have failed, and has debated on CNBC the future of fallen BP chief Tony Hayward. In addition to his professorial duties, Sonnenfeld is founder and president of the Chief Executive Leadership Institute, a nonprofit educational and research institute focused on CEO leadership and corporate governance. Sonnenfeld’s related research has been published in 100 scholarly articles which appeared in the leading academic journals in management such as Administrative Science Quarterly, the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management Review, the Journal of Organizational Behavior, Social Forces, Human Relations and Human Resource Management. He has also authored eight books, including The Hero’s Farewell, an award-winning study of CEO succession, and another best seller, Firing Back, a study on leadership resilience in the face of adversity. Sonnenfeld was the first academician to have rung the opening bells at both the NYSE and Nasdaq OMX.
John C. Coffee Jr., Columbia Law School
There is almost no subject under the heading of business or law on which Columbia Law School’s John C. Coffee Jr. is not an expert. As the Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law, Coffee writes and lectures on such topics as securities regulation, class actions, criminal law and white-collar crime. His expert commentary is sought by journalists and Senators alike.
Charles M. Elson and Roger G. Coffin, University of Delaware
When Charles M. Elson is not teaching his students the finer points of corporate law, he is teaching them to journalists, corporate governance professionals and directors. In addition to being the chair in corporate governance and the director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, Elson is also of counsel to the law firm of Holland & Knight. Roger G. Coffin, associate director of the Weinberg Center, has also played a key role in the success of the center.
Joseph A. Grundfest and F. Daniel Siciliano
A nationally prominent expert on capital markets, corporate governance and securities litigation, Joseph A. Grundfest has been recognized as one of the most influential attorneys in the United States. He founded the award-winning Stanford Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, which provides detailed, online information about the prosecution, defense and settlement of federal class action securities litigation. F. Daniel Siciliano is a legal scholar and entrepreneur with expertise in corporate governance, finance and immigration law.