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EWIB-San Francisco Bay Area - Women on Boards: Tips and Strategies for Being on a Board and Being Effective, May 23, 2019

Posted By Yasmin Chandrashekhar, Kristine Mechem, and Martina Doleshal, Thursday, June 20, 2019

On Thursday May 23, approximately 45 executive women came together to discuss the role of women on corporate boards. The event was hosted by Vir Biotechnology. With the recent passage of legislature in California requiring more female board participation for public companies headquartered in California, this topic was timely and well-received. The evening was focused around a panel discussion. The panel was moderated by Gail Maderis, President and CEO of Antiva Biosciences, Inc and Board Member at NovaBay Pharmaceuticals.   

  • The panel was comprised of women with extensive boardroom experience and included:Grace Colon (President, CEO and Director InCarda Therapeutics, Executive Chairman, ProterixBio, Board Member for Paradigm Diagnostics; Cocoon Biotech; and PerceptiMed, Inc.)
  • Mary Haak-Frendscho (CEO Spotlight Therapeutics, Board member Sirenas; Compugen USA and formerly Northern Biologics_
  • Shehnaaz Suliman (Board member Ultragneyx Pharmaceutical, Inc and Parvus Therapeutics, Inc)


The panelists addressed strategies on how to get on a board and how to be more effective on a board. Feedback that was given included:

  • Reminders that you often need to ask for a seat at the table, don’t assume that they know you are interested in board positions.
  • Suggestions that first time directors should not have expectations around the existing board accommodating you – if it has been all male board in the past, you may need to “go with the flow.”
  • Comments that working on a non-profit board doesn’t always prepare you for a corporate board. Many non-profit board positions are focused around fund raising not the core business of running the company.
  • Importance of networking and remembering other qualified women when an opportunity doesn’t fit your skill set or timeframe.
  • Discussion around boardroom preparation programs with comments that they run the whole gamut and some are more valuable than others. EWIB’s own Boardroom Ready program not only prepares qualified women for board service, it connects you to a cohort of women committed to supporting each other.

EWIB of the San Francisco Bay Area is planning more programs like this as well as networking events for senior leaders. If you are a senior leader and would like to be on the contact list for these invitation only events, please email sanfranciscoewib@womeninbio.org

Tags:  2019  EWIB 

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