Last week Kyle wrote about some of the important names behind Chevron as part of our latest research project on LittleSis, which we’ve posted as a pitch on Spot.Us. We’re going to be blogging about our findings as we go, so we’ll hopefully produce a post about each of the ten companies we’re scrutinizing as part of this project.
Today I want to introduce you to some of the bigwigs behind McKesson — the world’s largest health care company and the third largest company in the SF Bay Area, headquartered in downtown SF — without naming any of its leadership, as a way of illustrating the kinds of networks that today’s typical megacorporation is plugged into. You can follow along at McKesson’s interlocks page on LittleSis.
McKesson’s ten board members hold or have held many top positions in major US corporations, including Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Clorox, Qwest, OfficeMax, PG&E, and ARCO — as well as many “smaller” companies in the health industries like SDI Health, Aerogen, Theragenics, Agilent Technologies, Kaiser Health Plan, Dynavax, and Kriptiq.
Equally impressive are their ties to powerful think tanks and policy groups at the national level. You can be sure that McKesson’s $15.2 Billion are represented at all the serious discussions taking place at RAND, Brookings Institution, Business Roundtable, The Conference Board, and The Carter Center. A variety of other national nonprofits like the AAA, American Council for Capital Formation, Healthcare Leadership Council, and National Association of Former US Attorneys are also interlocked with McKesson.
Law firms? Oh, just a couple of the biggest ones: McKesson’s team includes a former partner at Jones Day and one from Goodwin Procter. Government ties? A former DoJ attorney and US Sentencing Commissioner from the Bush I and Clinton administrations, and a seat on the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Higher learning? A trustee at Wheaton College. Philanthropies? McKesson has a former Rockefeller Foundation trustee and trustees from the Catalina Island Conservancy and the Denver Center for Performing Arts. A former McKesson VP is now a program officer at S. D. Bechtel, Jr Foundation, a fund set up by the SF-based Bechtel construction family.
McKesson’s connections to prominent Bay Area organizations are less plentiful. Because corporate boards meet only several times a year, they’re typically dominated by out-of-towners. According to campaign finance data from OpenSecrets, McKesson’s board members hail from Portland, Denver, Atlanta, Boston, Pasadena, Atherton, Orinda, and Piedmont. But even including McKesson’s top seven executives, I could only identify one significant local position: a former board membership on the Bay Area Council, a business lobbying group with representatives from about half of our ten-company watch list.
(The company’s resident lobbyist (“VP of Public Affairs”) is a former board member of The City Club of San Francisco; she’s also on the board of the Public Affairs Council, a national association of lobbyists. McKesson’s former VP of Community Relations is on the board of United Way of the Bay Area.)
At the federal level, these folks have made some big political donations to both parties, with a slight preference for Democrats. Each of McKesson’s seven top executives contributed to McKesson’s employee PAC. One director gave a cool $30K to Obama, and a few others gave $1K or more to McCain.
Seventeen directors and executives bring a lot of connections to an industry giant — connections useful for business partnerships, economic intelligence, public relations, and, of course, political influence. McKesson as a corporate entity may not have immediate and full access to the array of institutions and networks that its leadership inhabits, but you can bet these bonds are crucial to its success.