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The How and Why of Landing a Seat in the Boardroom

The How and Why of Landing a Seat in the Boardroom

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This informative panel featured Lisa Shalett, Breen Sullivan, Maria Pinelli, and Shelly Lombard as they addressed gender diversity within corporate boardrooms and why it matters. Each accomplished woman holds or has held a seat in the boardroom, and shared their unique experiences while offering advice to women interested in pursuing these roles. 

Shalett is the co-founder of Extraordinary Women on Boards—a community for experienced board directors. 

Sullivan is the founder of The Fourth Floor, a market network whose mission is to close the gender power, wealth, and funding gap by transforming boardrooms and equity ownership capitalization for different companies. The Fourth Floor matches startup businesses to board-ready women to eliminate barriers that keep women out of candidacy. 

Pinelli, the global executive and CEO of Strategic Growth Advisors LLC, was appointed to the Board of International Game Technologies PLC in January of 2022 and is Chair of the Audit Committee. She also serves as a member of the Board of Directors and the Audit Committee for Globant S.A. and Archer Aviation Inc

Lombard has worked on Wall Street for over thirty years. She currently serves on the board of Bed Bath & Beyond and Craft 1861, where she is a member of the audit and nominating/governance committees.

When asked about creatively leveraging board and advisor seats to grow and advance a board, Lombard's answer focused on private board positions. She explained that securing a board seat hinges on the unique value an applicant can offer a company. Lombard said, “What you need to think about is what your value proposition is.” As someone who pursues finance, Lombard is an asset to audit committees on boards—committees that oversee financial reports, select independent auditors, and more.

So, how can one leverage their skills if they haven't sat on a board before? Shallett provided an insightful response, based on her own experience. “84 or 85% of the time your board relationship is going to come about from someone that you already know.” Essentially, those seeking board seats should tap into their network, finding advocates to support their board opportunities.

To conclude this engaging conversation, Pinelli was asked for the most practical action that board seat seekers can take. She advised, “Google it. You can even go to Disney, go to any company’s board skill matrix.” Comparing personal skills with the skills sought by the company to which one is applying provides insight into which firms are worth pursuing and which might be challenging to secure and maintain a board seat with.

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