Securing Your Seat at the Boardroom Table

A Good News Bad News Story

Washington Post reporter Jena McGregor wrote, “After being stuck at 16 percent for several years, the percentage of women-held board seats in the S&P 500 now reaches nearly 27 percent, according to data from ISS Analytics, the data arm of the proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services.” Data from Catalyst, Korn Ferry and other organizations consistently show that companies with three or more women on their board of directors outperform their peer groups. That’s the good news. President, CEO and director of Campbell Soup Company and director of MetLife, Inc. Denise Morrison has said, “While women build strategic plans for their brands or for their companies, they don’t do strategic plans for themselves.” That’s the bad news.  

Event sponsors Pepper Hamilton, LLP and Benchworks, in conjunction with HBA West Chester, hosted an Executive Breakfast where four senior leaders who serve on corporate boards, shared their personal experiences to help attendees: 

  • Determine if corporate boards are right for you
  • Understand the steps, requirements and support needed to secure a first board seat

Here are the Pearls of Wisdom from our four experienced panelists:


Charlotte Sibley
Sibley Associates, LLC

Julie Kampf
CEO and chief possibilities officer
JBK Associates International



Catherine Sohn
chairman, BioEclipse Therapeutics
Public and Private company board director





Rachael Bushey
chair of life sciences 
Pepper Hamilton LLP



It is never too early to start your research. Rachel Bushey advised to begin networking before you are ready for a board appointment; this way people can see you in action. Start by making a list of the companies you admire most and where you think you could make a significant contribution. Identify your unique selling proposition.  Begin speaking to people who sit on boards. Catherine Sohn said, “Use your personal and professional network to let people know what you are looking for in a board position.” Read a company’s Proxy Statement and the Annual Report to understand the company, its business and structure. Listen to the most recent Earnings Calls and view investor presentations. Know who the board serves if asked. The answer: shareholders – although, increasingly, stakeholders are being considered. Tap into the wealth of available resources, like Broadrooms or National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) or even consider taking a Boardroom boot camp course available at many universities. Julie Kampf amped up her board readiness by attending a program at Wharton. Prepare a board bio – this is not the same as your CV. When interviewed, dress professionally, have your questions prepared and be yourself. Chemistry is key. Other board members want to ensure you can work collaboratively. Lastly, once you join the board, know your role. Charlotte Sibley referred to as NIFO – Nose In Fingers Out (from NACD). 

For more information on HBA West Chester programs, check out our website. Our next program is 19 September at Capgemini Invent in Wayne, PA. 

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Groups audience: 
- Private group -