Bill Grabe - Former VP, IBM Services

Building Effective Boards


Bill Grabe is an Advisory Director at General Atlantic. Bill joined General Atlantic in 1992 and retired as a Managing Director in 2010. He has been an integral part of GA’s global expansion, initially in Europe and later in India and China. Prior to his affiliation with General Atlantic, Mr. Grabe retired from the IBM Corporation as an IBM Vice President and Corporate Officer. In his last position he was responsible for US Marketing and Services and was a founding member of the board of ISSC, the precursor to IBM Global Services. Bill currently serves on the boards of Quality Technology Services, Lenovo Group Limited, Gartner, Inc., and Covisint Corporation.

Summary Notes on Building Effective Boards

  • How should companies think about building out the board?

  • Don’t make the process too cumbersome, but do an assessment of what you need on the board in terms of how potential board members can help management

  • As you grow, it’s important to have someone on the board who can run the audit committee

  • Not a fan of stacking board with multiple investors so investors have more votes than the company

  • During Bill’s time at GA, management and GA should would typically both take seat and collectively agree on 2-3 additional members

  • How should companies think about the evolution of a board as they grow?

  • In the earlier stages a smaller board is better

  • Operating experience is key