Michael D. Penner
Chairman of Hydro-Québec’s Board of Directors
Status: Independent director
Initial appointment: October 8, 2014
End of term: May 14, 2018
Michael D. Penner is a lawyer, entrepreneur and corporative executive with a record of orchestrating paradigm change in both the private and public sectors. Prior to selling Peds Legwear (Peds) to Gildan Activewear Inc. in August 2016, he was the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Penner also sits on the board of Scotiabank where he also acts as a member of the organization’s audit committee. In October 2014, the Québec government appointed him Chairman of the Board of Hydro-Québec, Canada’s largest electric utility and power generation company and the world’s fourth largest hydropower producer.
As Chairman of the Board, Mr. Penner has spearheaded the renewal of Hydro-Québec, a flagship of the province’s economy. For years, relations between the $14-billion company and its various stakeholders had been fractious. Mr. Penner promptly embarked on an “evolutionary” transformation that included appointing new board members (with gender parity) as well as recruiting a new CEO, a new Secretary General, two new division presidents and a new CIO. Under his leadership, Hydro-Québec has modernized and revitalized its governance. New board committees have been established, including an IT committee, and a comprehensive five-year Strategic Plan has also been adopted.
Mr. Penner is also active internationally, accompanying the Premier of Québec to COP 21 in Paris in 2015.
He co-chairs Hydro-Québec’s Centraide campaign, one of the largest in Canada. In this capacity, he instituted a 25% increase in the company’s contribution, bringing it to over $5 million in 2015. Mr. Penner is also Chair of the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts’ annual fundraising activity. His other community commitments include sitting on the boards of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Selwyn House School, Hofstra University School of Law and McGill University Football.
After acquiring Peds in 2006, he led its transformation from a small regional player to an international industry leader. In 2011, the company expanded into the U.S., acquiring a failed hosiery company in North Carolina, investing heavily in its turnaround and eventually reshoring over 200 jobs. In recognition of Mr. Penner’s contribution to the U.S. economy, President Obama invited him to the White House in May of 2014. Mr. Obama highlighted the the Peds story and Penner’s leadership again in his 2015 address to the SelectUSA annual conference in Washington, D.C., and once more the following year in his address to the Canadian Parliament.
Since 2011, Peds has undergone exceptional growth in the U.S. market, eventually gaining the number one market share in its legwear category. Gildan acquired Peds with an eye to leveraging this success and broadening its distribution channels on a global scale.
Mr. Penner holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a law degree from Hofstra University (New York).