What Kind of Women Join Microsoft’s Board?

women board of directorsIs having CEO experience essential for a board position?

The answer is no. According to a 2012 report from Spencer Stuart,  a major search firm for board seats,  only 24% of new female directors at S&P 500 firms had CEO/President/COO or Chairman/Vice Chair experience.  Over the past few years,  the CPA route has brought quite a few more women to the board table because firms want financial experts for their audit committees.  Having experience with board dynamics and governance are key elements in the selection process.  Nonprofit governance experience can be helpful, but that depends on the board make-up and the complexity of the organization.  We are seeing boards search for the talent they need with other backgrounds as well. The level of  experience recruited by Fortune 500 firms varies significantly from the candidates recruited by micro or small cap companies.  In searching for a board seat, you must be realistic about how your experience will translate into value for a board.

Do you know what it takes to be a public company director? A webinar offered on both Nov. 5 and 11, will help you sort that out.

Women on the Microsoft Board

Take a look at Microsoft as an example of the profiles of women who hold board seats on a large public company board.  What are their skills and background?  One is a college president, one is retired CFO of a major financial institution and the latest addition is a SVP & Treasurer of a consumer product company.

Maria Klawe is president of Harvey Mudd College.  She is a renowned mathematician, computer scientist and scholar.  Prior to joining Harvey Mudd College, she served as dean of engineering and professor of computer science at Princeton University.  She is a national thought leader on women in STEM education.

Dina Dublon has been a Microsoft board member since 2005 and  is also a director of PepsiCo and Accenture. She was CFO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and was responsible for the company’s financial management and operations, strategy and acquisitions, corporate treasury and investor relations until her retirement from the company at the end of 2004.

Teri List-Stoll, CPA,  the CFO and EVP at Kraft Foods Group just joined the board.  She was SVP and treasurer at Proctor & Gamble, where she worked for nearly 20 years. She held roles in departments across the company, from supply chain and business unit management to sales and financial planning. She will serve on their audit committee. She also serves on the board of directors for Danaher Corp., a U.S.-based science and technology conglomerate, where she is director of the audit committee.

What’s the right board for you?

The competition for seats on Fortune 500 boards is huge, and these firms have raised the bar higher than in the past for talent needed.  If you have the credentials that can bring you to this table, aim high!  But for many board candidates, especially the huge number of women who have not served on a corporate board before, the goal of a board seat for a micro or small cap company is a much more realistic endeavor.  If a board seat is on your career radar screen, presenting your talents in a manner that show your value to a board is key.   Finding the right board for you will take time and energy.  You’ll need to tap into organizations and networks that can make you visible to the right people.  And, you’ll need patience and perseverance.

Investigate the Women2Boards Registry

Our goal in starting Women2Boards is to help professional women expand their board access network, increase their understanding of board service, and help them gain access to smaller company nominating committees through our matchmaking/referral program.   I invite you to investigate joining the Women2Boards Registry.

About the Author

Nancy E. Sheppard - Founder & CEO, Women2Boards. Nancy has a passion for helping connect people for mutual benefit. She founded Women2Boards in 2014 as a way to assist both corporate boards and women connect and improve gender diversity. Read More

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