AAPI Corporate Directors Share Key Steps In The Journey To The Board Seat

Although Asian Americans are widely seen as successful, they experience more workplace exclusion than any other minority and are underrepresented in leadership positions.

In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Month, Irene Liu Chief Legal Officer (CLO) at Hopin sat down with two Asian American leaders on corporate boards to celebrate and hear about their board experiences, as well as their advice for the future AAPI corporate directors.

John Kuo, CLO at Visby Medical, and Ebay’s CLO Marie Oh Huber emphasized a few key steps that were critical to their success in gaining a board of director position:

Determine and articulate your “why” for board aspirations — to enable you to clearly state your specific value offer for potential opportunities. Consider your goals, your strengths, and the value you can bring to the firm.

Analyze your network — these connections will allow you to broaden your circles of influence and increase your exposure to those who may be able to connect you with board members.

Examine and highlight your relevant experience — most boards are not looking for a new director with lawyering skills, but rather one who has a certain skill set and can demonstrate business acumen, as well as executive experience and leadership qualities, all wrapped up in the keen enterprise-wide insights gained from working as a general counsel. 

After obtaining a board position, time must be devoted to learning about the company and its industry, getting to know other board members and the leadership team, and determining the type of director you want to be to offer the most value to the firm.

According to Kuo, you will need to strategically determine the type of director you want to be in fact, the kind of director you admire. 

Knowing the demands of a company’s board committees, where much of the work is done, is another key aspect of preparation. According to Huber, if you can identify relevant skillsets that would be beneficial on a particular committee, you may be able to fill a void.

Huber also noted that being a chair of the nominating committee is a tremendous opportunity to influence the composition and diversity of the board.

Hopefully, Kuo and Huber’s experience will inspire AAPI professionals and other minorities on their own journey to the company board seats and increase diversity in the boardroom.