NACD Board Leadership Conference NACD Chapter System

A Conversation about Board Renewal with Ralph Izzo

May 12, 2015
Newark, NJ



NACD NJ SHOWCASE PROGRAM, featuring Ralph Izzo, CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group and former Chairman of the Board of Governors of Rutgers University


Hear the views of one of New Jersey's most prominent leaders on what it takes to maintain a Board of Directors that performs up to the highest professional standards, whether the organization operates in the business, academic or other nonprofit realm. Among issues he will address in interview fashion include:


What constitutes an "effective director?"
How do you keep a steady stream of effective directors on your Board?
How do you know when a Board needs to be refreshed?


Rutgers and PSEG Guests: Please contact Gina Barberio for complimentary

Parking is available in the IDT parking deck on Atlantic Street


Event Notes



On May 12, 2015, one of the state’s top business leaders, Ralph Izzo, spoke to the Chapter membership on the topic of Board renewal at Rutgers Business School.  Mr. Izzo, a trained scientist and engineer, is CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), the owner of the state’s largest electric utility, and also the Chair of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. He is also the past Chairman of the Board of governors of Rutgers University. The event was structured in an interview format, featuring Marin Coyne, Chairman and CEO of the New Jersey NACD  Chapter, as Mr. Izzo’s interlocutor.

Mr. Izzo expressed the keen need of CEOs to have the right directors to assist them in company planning and strategy. In the case of PSEG, that means moving away from an emphasis on regulatory knowledge and engineering skills for Board members and bringing in operational and financial expertise. He also emphasized that “softer” qualifications, such as reliability and collegiality, are additional important factors. Although it is common for a company to engage in CEO succession planning, it is also important for them to engage in “Board succession planning” that ties into changes in strategic planning, to be sure the right skills remain on the Board to deal with future changes. One of the most challenging problems is how to deal with long serving directors whose skill sets are no longer what the company requires. These situations must be handled with great tact, recognizing that whatever the company has achieved was at least the partial product of that director’s efforts. Frequently the institution of a mandatory retirement age for directors is one way to send a message that a director has reached an appropriate term limit without singling that person out.

Mr. Izzo stressed the value to the CEO of having a strong lead independent director who can act as the CEO’s filter with the rest of the Board. Sometimes it is awkward for a director to be perceived as challenging the CEO in a meeting. A message of disagreement can often be delivered in a very nonconfrontational way if it passes through the lead independent director first. Having such a lead director makes it less important to have a Board Chair who is separate from the CEO.

Mr. Izzo stated that he situation regarding Board renewal is more challenging with nonprofits where succession planning for Board members is not often done. The touchstone there frequently is not what help the CEO needs, but what other constituencies of the nonprofit need, in light of its role and mission.

Location and Time


Rutgers Business School
1 Washington Park, Bove Auditorium 2nd Floor
Newark, NJ

7:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Speaker Spotlight


Dr. Ralph Izzo, Ph.D

Ralph Izzo was elected chairman and chief executive officer of Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG) in April 2007. He was named as the company's president and chief operating officer and a member of the board of directors of PSEG in October 2006. Previously, Mr. Izzo was president and chief operating officer of Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G). Since joining PSE&G in 1992 Mr. Izzo was elected to several executive positions within PSEG's family of companies, including PSE&G senior vice president - utility operations, PSE&G vice president - appliance service, PSEG vice president - corporate planning, and PSE&G vice president - electric ventures. In these capacities he broadened his experience in the areas of general management, strategic planning and finance. Mr. Izzo is a well-known leader within the utility industry, as well as the public policy arena. He is frequently asked to testify before Congress and speak to organizations on matters pertaining to national energy policy. Mr. Izzo's career began as a research scientist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, performing numerical simulations of fusion energy experiments. He has published or presented over 35 papers on magnetohydrodynamic modeling. Mr. Izzo received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in mechanical engineering and his Doctor of Philosophy degree in applied physics from Columbia University. He also received a Master of Business Administration degree, with a concentration in finance from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management. He is listed in numerous editions of Who's Who and has been the recipient of national fellowships and awards. Mr. Izzo has received Honorary Degrees from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (Doctor of Science), Thomas A. Edison State College (Doctor of Humane Letters), Bloomfield College (Doctor of Humane Letters), Rutgers University (Doctor of Humane Letters), and Raritan Valley Community College (Associate of Science). Mr. Izzo serves as chair of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and on the board of directors for The Williams Companies, the New Jersey Utilities Association, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), and The Center for Energy Workforce Development. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Peddie School, Columbia University School of Engineering Board of Visitors and the Princeton University Adlinger Center for Energy and the Environment Advisory Council, as well as a member of the Visiting Committee for the Department of Nuclear Engineering at MIT. Mr. Izzo is a former Chair of the Rutgers University Board of Governors.



2 NACD collaborative credits

Question about this Event?

Contact New Jersey Chapter 32 Leonardine Avenue, South River, NJ, 08882 phone: 732-698-7771 fax: 732-698-7772 email: