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Success Stories

Elisa D. Garcia

Elisa is a 2011 Alumna of the Board Institute. Her bio is available here

BOARD SERVICE EXPERIENCE

Dollarama, Inc.

2015-present. 

Board Member; Nominating and Governance Committee Member

How did you learn about your current board opportunities? Did active networking play a role?

I received a call from a recruiter form a firm I had previously connected with for possible Board roles.

How has DirectWomen helped you achieve your board service-related objectives?

The DirectWomen Institute and pre-work taught me what a Board resume needed to stress and helped me view my experience as a set of skills rather than chronological jobs. DirectWomen also helped me to tell my story.

What have been/were the most challenging aspects of establishing yourself as a director?  

I am the first woman on the Board of Dollarama, so I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just a check the box appointment. Making sure that I learned the business and contributed quickly was important.

Which of your skills/attributes do you believe have been most instrumental in your board role(s)?

Governance and international experience.

What specific events, people or tactics (if any) have helped your transition from career woman to board director?

The lead director and management have been very welcoming and have helped me learn about the business. Management has welcomed my requests to tour stores and distribution facilities and have given me access to executives to jumpstart my learnings. It takes a year (a full cycle) to really understand the seasonality of the business and how it affects earnings.

What ongoing activities continue to develop/enhance your effectiveness as a director?

Deeper understanding of the company's risk profile and tolerance, as well as strategic presentations.

What are your further short/medium/long-term board service objectives?

Joining another committee (short term). I am still employed full time as a CLO, so I do not foresee adding another board in the medium term, but long-term, I would like a second board.

What advice would you give to aspiring women directors?

Look at your skill set and understand how you can bring value to a company.

Sheri Edison

Sheri is a 2014 Alumna of the Board Institute. Her bio is available here

BOARD SERVICE EXPERIENCE

AK Steel (NYSE: AKS)

2014-present. 

Board Member; Nominating and Governance Committee Member; Audit and Compensation Committee Member

How did you learn about your current board opportunities? Did active networking play a role?

I let my interest in serving on a public company board be known, actively networked, and attended events where I could meet other Directors.

How has DirectWomen helped you achieve your board service-related objectives?

DirectWomen helped me to reframe my personal and professional experiences and skills in a way that highlighted the value that I could bring to a Board position.

What have been/were the most challenging aspects of establishing yourself as a director?  

Adjusting to the cadence of Board service (e.g. Board meetings, special meetings, Committee calls, etc) and establishing my calendar around it.

Which of your skills/attributes do you believe have been most instrumental in your board role(s)?

My ability to see through complexity, problem solving, broad experience leading critical business functions, and governance expertise. 

What specific events, people or tactics (if any) have helped your transition from career woman to board director?

Wonderful mentors, all of whom have served or currently serve on public company boards; attendance at governance programs; new friendships with others who share my passion for Board service.

What ongoing activities continue to develop/enhance your effectiveness as a director?

Ongoing learning about the industry in which the company on whose board I serve operates, annual attendance to at least one governance program to stay on top of current issues and hone my governance skills, mentoring other women and people of color who desire to serve on a Board.

What are your further short/medium/long-term board service objectives?

Short term: Continue to work toward being the best Board member that I can be on my current Board; Long term: Assume a Board leadership role.

What advice would you give to aspiring women directors?

Go for it.

Mallun Yen

 Mallun Yen, who was a member of the  2016 Board Institute Class, was elected to the Board of RPX Corporation in April of 2017. RPX Corporation (NASDAQ: RPXC), is a public company that is a leading provider of patent risk and discovery management solutions. Ms. Yen, currently the Company’s Executive Vice President, will continue to serve in that role through September 1, 2017.

“Mallun’s contributions to the Company date back to when she worked with the founding team to launch RPX,” said Marty Roberts, Chief Executive Officer and President of RPX. “From these early days, she has championed the RPX mission to bring transparency, efficiency, and rationality to patent transactions through industry innovation. I am pleased that she will remain engaged with our business through service on our Board.”

“We’re delighted that Mallun has joined the Board of Directors,” said RPX Chairman of the Board, Shelby Bonnie. “She has been integral to the Company’s success from inception. This experience, combined with her leadership in the patent industry and devotion to the organization’s mission are invaluable assets.”

Prior to RPX, Ms. Yen spent eight years at Cisco where, as Vice President of Worldwide Intellectual Property and Deputy General Counsel, she built and led the teams responsible for protection of the intellectual property embedded in Cisco’s technology, products, and innovation globally. She is also a board member of KQED, Northern California’s public media organization, and a board member, co-founder, and chief executive officer of ChIPs, a nonprofit with over 1,500 members dedicated to accelerating innovation in technology, law, and policy by increasing diversity of thought, participation, and engagement.

“I have been a believer in RPX since the very beginning, and I’m proud of how far we’ve come in these nearly 10 years,” Ms. Yen said. “Through the good work of everyone at RPX and the support of our clients, we’ve helped our more than 350 clients avoid more than 4,000 litigations and save nearly $3.5 billion. Now as a board member, I’m pleased to continue to advocate for greater transparency in the patent marketplace and to guide RPX as it leverages its great success through new opportunities.”

Connie Collingsworth

Connie Collingsworth is a 2009 Alumna of the Board Institute. Her bio is available here

BOARD SERVICE EXPERIENCE

Banner Corporation (NASDAQ: BANR)

2013-present. Publically traded bank holding company with approximately $10B in assets  

Board Member; Governance Committee Chair; Compensation Committee Member 

PREMERA BLUE CROSS

2013-present. Preeminent Pacific Northwest health care coverage with over 2M members

Board Member; Member of Audit & Compliance, Quality, and Investment Committees 

ATTENEX CORPORATION

2000-2008. Privately held technology company in eDiscovery marketplace

Board Member

How did you learn about your current board opportunities? Did active networking play a role?

Yes, active networking was key to obtaining both the Banner and Premera board positions.  The Banner board opportunity arose as a result of participating in an event held at the NYSE called “Moving the Needle.”  The objective of the event was to promote broader board diversity in US public companies.  A short bio of the individuals participating in the event was included in a book, which was distributed to the Board Chairs and Chairs of the Governance and Nominating Committees of all publically traded US companies.  The Chair of Banner’s Governance Committee had been a board member of a prior client when I was practicing law at Preston Gates & Ellis.  I had not had any contact with him for over 13 years, but when he saw my bio in the book he reached out to talk to me about joining the Banner board.

The opportunity to join the Premera board arose as a result of me networking with a former law firm partner who had become the General Counsel of Premera and letting him know that I was interested in serving on corporate boards.  He recommended me to the CEO of the company as a potential board candidate.

The board position at Attenex Corporation arose in connection with working with the company as a client while I was practicing law at Preston Gates & Ellis.

How has DirectWomen helped you achieve your board service-related objectives?

Participating in DirectWomen helped me appreciate the importance of being proactive in letting people know I am interested and qualified to serve on a corporate board.  In these conversations, I emphasize my strengths as an experienced strategic advisor, with knowledge and expertise in governance and risk management. Additionally, I talk about my expertise in complex business transactions and sophisticated financing arrangements and that I am viewed as a leader with strong business judgment and exceptional communication and interpersonal skills---all characteristics companies look for in potential board candidates. 

What have been/were the most challenging aspects of establishing yourself as a director?  

I think there is a barrier to improving gender diversity on boards as a result of the preference for   female CEOs as the first choice as a board candidate.  There generally is a lack of appreciation for the qualifications of other C-Suite Executives, and perhaps an even stronger bias against General Counsels.  This is based on the perception that a GC will play the role of “lawyer” versus that of seasoned strategic business advisor.

Which of your skills/attributes do you believe have been most instrumental in your board role(s)?

I believe the exposure to a broad range of businesses and complex transactions throughout my career has prepared me well to contribute to the boards’ discussions with management.  Asking insightful questions of management in a constructive fashion is also viewed as a critical skill in fulfilling a board member’s fiduciary obligation.  

What specific events, people or tactics (if any) have helped your transition from career woman to board director?

Being intentional and proactive about networking and making efforts to educate myself to be an excellent board member are both critical.  

What ongoing activities continue to develop/enhance your effectiveness as a director?

I served as a board member of the NACD Northwest Chapter and am a member of Women Corporate Directors.  I also participated in a Harvard Business School Leadership Forum in 2014 and attended the Stanford Directors’ College Executive Education Program in 2012.  I also continue to be actively involved in DirectWomen, attending its annual Sandra Day O’Connor luncheons and serving as Chair of the Honoree Committee and Co-Chair of the Class Committee.

What are your further short/medium/long-term board service objectives?

The two boards on which I currently sit are both highly regarded regional companies based in the Pacific Northwest. My objective is to have an opportunity to serve on the board of a company with a broader geographical footprint where I can add value based on the depth of international experience gained from working at the Bill & Gates Foundation and my understanding regarding markets of emerging economies.  It would also be great to have an opportunity to utilize the unique insights I have regarding corporate social responsibility.    

What advice would you give to aspiring women directors?

Two critical words—patience and persistence.  Start planting the seeds by telling everyone you talk to that you are interested in serving on a corporate board.  Make an investment in becoming educated regarding the responsibilities of a board member by becoming engaged, such as in the local NACD or a Women Corporate Directors chapter, which also provide good opportunities for networking.

Peggy Heeg

Peggy Heeg is a 2009 Alumna of the Board Institute. Her bio is available here

BOARD SERVICE EXPERIENCE

Columbia Pipeline Partners LP, NYSE (2016 - Present)

Eagle Rock Energy Partners, NASDAQ (2010-2015)

  • Chair of Nominating and Governance Committee
  • Member of Audit Committee and Conflicts Committee

Texas Lottery Commission (2015)

El Paso Tennessee Pipeline Company, NYSE (2001-2003)

  • Member of Board of Directors

DePelchin Children’s Center (2000-2010)

  • Member of Board of Directors, Finance Committee and Executive Committee

United Way of Greater Houston (2008-2011)

  • Member of Board of Directors and Audit Committee

How did you learn about your current board opportunities? Did active networking play a role?

Networking at a director’s conference let to the Eagle Rock opportunity

How has DirectWomen helped you achieve your board service-related objectives?

I believe that if I had not gone through the DirectWomen Institute I would not have obtained my board position.  The Institute helped me by 1) understanding the challenges that female attorneys face in obtaining a board position; 2) provided practical advice on how to obtain a board position, and 3) introducing me to an amazing network of successful women.  

What have been/were the most challenging aspects of establishing yourself as a director?  

It is difficult to establish yourself if you are the first woman on a board.  There is no doubt that having a female on the board changes the board dynamics and interactions.  

Which of your skills/attributes do you believe have been most instrumental in your board role(s)?

My understanding of business, ability to stay composed and knowledge of governance expectations have helped me become an effective board member.   

What specific events, people or tactics (if any) have helped your transition from career woman to board director?

The DirectWomen alumni group has helped me transition to board director.  I also have learned that it is important to have a regular dialogue with fellow board members between board meetings.  

What ongoing activities continue to develop/enhance your effectiveness as a director?

I stay on top of evolving risks and governance expectations.

What are your further short/medium/long-term board service objectives?

I would like to add one board position in the short-term.

What advice would you give to aspiring women directors?

It is easy to get frustrated when you are seeking a board position.  If you want to be on a board, stay focused on your objective and do not give up.  The practical reality is that there are very few board positions and many qualified individuals want to be on a board.  It is important to recognize that it may take time to get your first board position.  Stay focused, use your network and let people know that you are seeking a board position.

Robin Walker-Lee

Robin Walker-Lee is a 2012 Alumna of the Board Institute. Her bio is available here

Board Service Experience

  • Appointed to Rexnord Corporation (NYSE:RXN) in May 2015
  • Serves on the Nomination & Governance Committee

 

Success Stories

Elisa D. Garcia

Elisa joined the board of Dollarama, Inc. in 2015. Learn more

Sheri Edison

Sheri joined the board of AK Steel in 2014. Learn more

Mallun Yen

Mallun Yen joined the board of RPX Corporation in 2017. Learn more