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Former HSN executive takes key role at growing cannabis firm

Margie Manning

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Photo by Rick Proctor on Unsplash

Judy Schmeling, former chief operating officer of HSN Inc., was named chairman of the board of directors of Canopy Growth Corp., a Canadian cannabis, hemp and cannabis device company.

Judy Schmeling

As chairman, Schmeling brings proven leadership acumen, valuable operations experience and extensive accounting and financial expertise, Canopy (TSX: WEED, NYSE: CGC) said in a news release announcing her appointment.

The new role propels Schmeling into relatively rare territory. Women hold only 20 percent of all the board seats at the largest publicly traded firms, and a much smaller number of women chair those boards.

Schmeling has been on the Canopy Growth board of directors since November 2018, and has served as chair of the audit committee. She also serves on the board of directors of Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE: STZ), and of Casey’s General Store (Nasdaq: CASY).

She worked at HSN, a St. Petersburg-based multi-channel retailer, for 23 years before HSN was acquired by Liberty Interactive in 2017. Schmeling started as director of investor relations at HSN and held several progressively more responsible roles, including chief financial officer, chief operating officer and president of Cornerstone Brands.

Schmeling was one of five women from Tampa and St. Petersburg who recently talked about their service on corporate boards of directors, at a program hosted by Tampa Bay Business & Wealth. Constellation Brands and Casey’s are both Fortune 500 companies, while Canopy is a smaller firm, and there’s a difference for what that means for directors, she said.

“Constellation Brands is a huge company, with board meetings four to five times a year … It’s a very standard process for a public company board, and one of the key criteria to be on that board is to understand the difference between management’s responsibility and what is your responsibility as a board member. Sometimes people don’t understand that,” she said.

The Casey’s board has calls more often and spends more time on processes and procedures than does the Constellation board, she said.

“Then we have Canopy. We are not only small … but we are creating an entire industry. We have calls all the time, ad hoc, at a moment’s notice. In fact I was sitting out in my car having a call with someone on our compensation committee a few minutes ago. So it’s very different,” Schmeling said. “Not all public companies are created equal.”

Canopy Growth, headquartered in Smith Falls, Ontario and with net revenue of $226 million (in Canadian dollars) in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019, produces, distributes and sells cannabis products in Canada.

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