Bolster
For CXOs

Luminary: Finding your Seat in the Board Room

A few months ago, Bolster CEO Matt Blumberg and Bolster board member Cristina Miller joined a fireside chat about boards of directors with Luminary CEO Cate Luzio. It was an engaging conversation, as you can imagine if you know any of these three amazing individuals!

If you don’t have time to watch the entire recording below, here are some key takeaways for you:

Cate and Matt talked about why CEOs should hire independent board directors, and the value of having a more diverse and independent board. First, Cate wanted to level on the # of board seats available vs # of qualified candidates

Challenges:

  • There are a limited number of public and private companies, and a limited number of directors for those companies.
  • Because there isn’t a culture of independence, most board seats are held by CEOs and VCs. Board independence is not top of mind for everyone in the venture-backed world.

Bolster is evangelizing companies having independent directors (or 2 – 3) because:

  • We know that boards function better with independent directors.
  • Boards are a CEO’s secret weapon – they help you do more, and think differently about things.

A lot of women are interested in this path, but don’t know if they are qualified or how to get on boards. How do they know?

  • Bolster helps democratize this process by searching for skills and experiences rather than solely education, or resume-background.
  • We also showcase board-readiness rather than board-experience.

Things that Bolster highlights:

  • What are the industries where you are an expert?
  • What is your functional expertise?
  • What types of customers are you used to servicing or selling?
  • Stage of company you’ve been part of.
  • Other boards, including nonprofits, that you have been on.

What should board members expect from a board?

  • Public boards – you should expect stock and cash. This is a well documented area.
  • Private boards – historically these have been a black box. Management team and investors don’t get paid. At Bolster, we’ve been running a board benchmarking assessment, and just realized our initial findings. In general, you should expect that you are compensated, but not in cash. You’ll want to understand the amount of equity, the vesting schedule, and provisions for acceleration if the company is acquired.

Cristina gave some concrete ideas of how to get to the boardroom, especially as a first time director.

She was Intentional about her development and did some of the following to prepare to become a board member:

  • Exposure to boards by helping to prepare for and attend board meetings as an executive
  • 2020 Women in Boards initiatives
  • Networked and told people that she was interested in joining a board

She prepared for the interview by speaking to a mentor about how to prepare for the meeting. Advice she got:

  • Be yourself!
  • Prepare
  • Be sure it’s the right company for you – so you can make the right commitment

She studied:

  • Bolster
  • Read Matt’s blog, and did some more research on the company
  • The people who were involved – other founders and board members

Cristina also pointed out that the CEO looking for a board member must:

  • Want an independent director
  • Be open to a “non-traditional’ background (i.e. will consider someone who is ‘board-ready’ vs ‘board-experienced’)
  • Have a good interview process – can include attending a board meeting and a supportive process – this made me more comfortable when she joined the board

The recording is here if you’d like to watch and listen.

More about Luminary, a membership partner of Bolster:

Luminary is a global membership-based career and personal growth platform and collaboration hub created to address the systemic challenges impacting women across all industries and sectors. Former finance executive Cate Luzio founded and self-funded Luminary in 2018 with the mission to uplift, upskill, and propel women forward through all phases of their professional journey. Whether entering or re-entering the workforce, a seasoned executive stuck in the middle, embarking on a career transition or entrepreneurship, Luminary is their ultimate career advocate providing “real world” advice, tools, and resources to advance, build, connect, and develop. There is no application process to join, furthering the company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Luminary’s members are a multigenerational and intersectional community of individuals, intrapreneurs, entrepreneurs, corporations, and organizations with access to a vast ecosystem of expert-led thought leadership programs and services, as well as perks and amenities including a digital library with over 300 hours of downloadable content, a virtual platform to connect and convene with other Members.

-Cathy Hawley, June 10, 2021