7 Questions with Stephen Markscheid
Name: Stephen Markscheid
Current title: Chairman
Current organisation: Still Waters Green Technology
Stephen Markscheid is Chairman of Still Waters Green Technology, a UK based renewable energy developer. He serves as independent non-executive director of four publicly listed companies: Fanhua, Inc., Jinko Solar Inc., ZZ Capital International Ltd., and Hexindai, Inc. Steve is also a trustee emeritus of Princeton-in-Asia. From 1998-2006, Steve worked for GE Capital. During his time with GE, Steve led GE Capital's business development activities in China and Asia Pacific, primarily acquisitions and direct investments. Prior to GE, Steve worked with the Boston Consulting Group throughout Asia. Steve was a banker for ten years in London, Chicago, New York, Hong Kong and Beijing with Chase Manhattan Bank and First National Bank of Chicago. Steve began his career with the US-China Business Council, in Washington D.C. and Beijing. Steve earned a BA in East Asian Studies from Princeton University in 1976, an MA in international affairs from Johns Hopkins University in 1980, and an MBA from Columbia University in 1991, where he was class valedictorian. He lives in suburban Chicago with his wife and three children.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Anticipating unknown risks learning whom to trust and rely upon within the organization Regulatory uncertainty across borders Capriciousness of capital markets Related party transactions and inherent conflicts when Chairman/CEO is major shareholder
2. How did you become a board member of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My first public board role was with Fanhua, China's largest independent insurance broker I first met the company in 2002, when I sought to take a private equity interest on behalf of GE Capital That deal didn't work out In 2006 when Fanhua was preparing for a US IPO, Morgan Stanley informed management that they would need independent directors to satisfy SEC rules The Chairman remembered me from GE, and invited me to join his board Since then, I have been an independent director of > 10 public companies, most of them Chinese, listed in NY or HK
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I often have calls in the evening with China, but try to sleep early I rise early (4 or 5am), review emails go to gym @ 6am then emails, phone calls, meetings throughout the day as well as setting aside time for family
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
things don't happen by themselves things don't happen when you tell someone to do something things happen when you inspire a team to execute a plan through expressing a vision and setting an example and things really happen when you can engage a team to create its own plan based on a shared vision
5. What are some of the keys to doing governance well in a large enterprise?
listening to all stakeholders building trust doing what you promise to do diligently representing the interests of the company and public shareholders, even (especially) when in conflict with management's interest be inclined to support management in most instances, but willing to push back when needed
6. How do you differentiate between the role of board member and the roles of CEO or executive team member of a large enterprise?
i scrupulously avoid interfering with management my role is (i) strategic guidance, (ii) oversight of management, (iii) supervision of internal and external audit the board's role is to set corporate strategy - i have a role here management's role is execution of the strategy - i have no role here, except to the extent that management believes i can be helpful
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a board member of a large enterprise so far?
fighting with management about revenue recognition and quarterly SEC filing both CFO & external auditors agreed with me (as chairman of audit committee) that specific revenues could not be recognized for GAAP financial reporting Chairman thought otherwise we argued for hours; at one point i said 'Chairman, you can do what you want, but i can resign' Chairman slammed the table and said: 'i didn't bring you on this board to make threats; your job is to solve problems' i held my ground; Chairman was unhappy, but he got over it