Mon 26 Feb 2018
News - Getting to know better: Virginie Lagrange
Getting to know better: Virginie Lagrange

Virginie is an Independent Director certified by ILA and INSEAD. She started her professional career almost 25 ago in Luxembourg and always worked in the financial industry, mainly for banks and investment funds. Her areas of expertise are audit, risk and finance as she is a certified Réviseur d’Entreprises and was leading different departments in these areas. Before becoming Independent Director, Virginie was Chief Administrative Officer and member of the authorised management of Nomura Luxembourg; She was also member of the Board of the AIFM of Nomura Luxembourg. Her mandates as Independent Director are mostly banks’ and ManCos’ mandates (from small banks to significant institutions) as well as audit and risk committee’s mandates (as sub-committees of the Board) where she is often chairing the committees.

What are in your opinion, the key attributes for a Director?
I think a successful Independent Director must be truly “Independent”. It means for me having the freedom and courage to ask the questions nobody dares to ask in a Board in order to bring a “fresh” view and to challenge the status quo. This of course also means having enough experience and always keep up to date with new regulations and what’s happening on the market, being curious of new trends but also identifying potential threats. A good Director must also be a good listener and spend enough time not only to prepare the Boards but also to exchange with the management and the key function holders on a regular basis.

What do you think makes a great Board?
To have a great Board, you need three main things. Firstly you need to have a great Chairman! He’s the one who enables the discussions and ensures that the agenda of the Board really addresses the topics that are important for the company. Secondly, you need diversity in Boards: not only gender diversity but also people with different backgrounds, experiences and profiles, people that all together are complementary. The danger of having people thinking all the same, is to take the wrong decision without even noticing it. And finally, you need a Board which takes decisions; I saw too many boards discussing for hours and never concluding and deciding!

What would you change to improve the effectiveness of Luxembourg Boards?
To make a Board effective, you need to first have the right agenda to ensure that one focus on the important topics and that you have sufficient time to discuss them. Then Boards should convene at the right frequency depending on the size and complexity of the organization. The Chairman also needs to make sure that people come prepared to the Board and have read the Board pack; this also means that Board packs must be sent sufficiently in advance (at least one week before the Board) to allow the members to read the documents. Board pack must also be concise and focus on the major issues and should not be a book of 300 pages, which makes Boards really ineffective.

What does the outlook of Luxembourg look like, 10 years from now?
It’s quite difficult to predict the outlook of Luxembourg in ten years. Luxembourg is already engaged in the Third Industrial Revolution with green labels (Lux Flag) and several Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments and I think that the Positive Impact Products will become more and more important. Many jobs that currently exist won’t exist anymore in ten years but new jobs will be created especially in the IT area (information security, development of Artificial Intelligence or intensive use of the blockchain technology and its future developments). I hope the Luxembourg government will continue to actively promote new ideas which will attract investors.

How can ILA contribute to the economy, better boards and society?
ILA is already contributing to these areas with several conferences and events on important topics for Boards (during the Directors’ day in November last year, topics like cybersecurity and data governance were addressed). The training provided by ILA for Directors is also very rich and helps Directors to improve and to better serve their Boards. The different ILA Working Groups also give guidance to Board members from different industries on topical issues.