From Executive to Board Director – Board-Ready Bootcamp Alum Vera Tice

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MassTLC’s award-winning Board-Ready Bootcamp improves the quality and composition of board governance at tech companies by preparing underrepresented tech leaders, including African American, Latinx, LGBTQ, and women, to serve on tech boards. 

Bootcamp participants participate in an intensive, high-impact curriculum that includes both theory and practice of how high performing boards are structured, as well as executive networking with some of the region’s top networked leaders in the tech community.

After initially delaying the program due to Covid-19, the 2020 Board-Ready Bootcamp will now take place virtually in October 2020 and applications are now open.

You can learn more about the program from the Boston Globe or from our brochure, but we think the best way to truly understand what makes this program special is to hear from the alumni themselves. 

Over the next several weeks, we will be profiling some previous Board-Ready Bootcamp participants to learn more about their personal experiences and what advice they would give those thinking of applying.

This week: meet Vera Tice, Global Industry, Strategic and Technical Advisor and Commercialization Expert, Former Head of Strategic Partnerships & Services at Quest Diagnostics, and 2019 Bootcamp participant.
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Can you tell us more about you and your Board-Ready Bootcamp journey?

I spent 20+ years working at large corporations [Quest Diagnostics, Hewlett-Packard Medical (now Philips), and Nokia] with continually increasing responsibilities in various business and research and development (R&D) engineering executive positions. This culminated as head of Strategic Partnerships & Services for a new incubator business in Quest Diagnostic’s Ventures, Mergers & Acquisitions, and Corporate Strategy group.

After my tenure at Hewlett-Packard and Nokia, I co-founded a healthcare innovation startup and enabled the growth of another as COO & VP Product Development at Enmar Health and a member of the CEO’s senior leadership team at HealthWyse LLC (now Casamba Home and Hospice) heading up strategic initiatives and technical operations. From there I went on to startup and run a multi-disciplinary (business, engineering, science) organization within a major university, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). As Founding Managing Director, I created and led the first university-wide, multidisciplinary healthcare research and innovation institute, innovation lab, and strategic advisory board.

After WPI I returned to industry at Quest Diagnostics. There I partnered with senior leadership to start up and operationalize a new consumer healthcare and population health management incubator business (Extended Care/Virtual Care space) and contribute to Quest’s future population health strategy. As a global advisor, I advise private and public sector organizations investing in advancing healthcare and improving human health.

I have been serving on boards since 2008. I am an independent director of the Board of Directors of VNA Care, a non-profit that is Massachusetts largest and New England’s 3rd largest home health, hospice, and wellness provider. I became a member of the Finance Committee prior to attending the Bootcamp. Recently, I also became chair of the newly formed Strategy Committee. Prior to joining the VNA Care Board of Directors, I served on healthcare technology and technology management advisory boards at Partners Healthcare (now Mass General Brigham) and Stevens Institute of Technology. I also founded, recruited, and co-led the Strategic Advisory Board for the Healthcare Delivery Institute at WPI.

I was approached to join the VNA Care board because of my industry, business, and healthcare technology innovation expertise along with my strategic and operational experience. Previously, I was approached to join the advisory boards at Partners Healthcare (now Mass General Brigham) and Stevens Institute of Technology because of my industry, business, management, and technology innovation experience.

I became aware of the Board Ready Bootcamp through an email from MassTLC last year and was sponsored by the former CEO of VNA Care, Holly Chaffee.  Since attending the Bootcamp, I have developed my board bio and have been networking to explore board opportunities with private and public companies. My goal is to be an independent director on one or more company boards. With my corporate, startup, strategy, advisory, and technology experience, I have great interest in healthcare technology and diagnostics, medical devices, informatics, artificial intelligence, and robotics.

What are your thoughts on the board diversity?

In general, although progress is being made, diversity on boards is lacking for both large and small technology companies, especially when it comes to including women and other diverse professionals in technology fields. I more often see woman on boards of technology companies with finance, legal, or human resources experience and infrequently with technology or engineering experience. Increasing diversity on tech boards (as well as in executive leadership positions) is important as companies are more successful when their executive leaders and board members reflect the composition of their customers which in this case are consumers of technology.

What would you share about how boards operate and recruit with new members? How did you determine what type of board and what role you wanted?

Board opportunities are found through networking and connections. My advice is to tell people you are interested in joining a board and what kind(s). I was fortunate I was able to land advisory board roles through direct contacts, as it takes significant time to find opportunities. At that time I was working full time at either large corporations or startups while raising a family. I am finding it takes significant time to find board of directors’ opportunities at private and public companies, especially for technology companies. My advice is to get involved with advisory and non-profit boards to build board experience, develop a board bio to use instead of a resume to communicate your expertise and experience, and network relentlessly.

It takes a concerted effort to find independent board of director opportunities. It requires a lot of networking, identifying types of organizations and boards that are a good fit for you, finding boards that are at a point where they are looking to bring in new directors, etc. I am beginning to see more board opportunities being posted directly, mostly by non-profit organizations for non-profit or advisory boards. I am also starting to see recruiting firms post opportunities for private and public company boards, but not as many. In general, I see this as a positive sign that more organizations are recognizing the value a diverse board brings.

What was the most valuable part of the Bootcamp for you? What advice would you give others to maximize their experience?

I learned many things at the Bootcamp, including the different types of board committees, the roles and responsibilities of board members, how to find board positions, and how to develop a board bio to use in place of a resume or CV to communicate the expertise and experience you can bring to a board. I highly recommend the Board-Ready Bootcamp to anyone who is exploring being on a board or is on their board journey. It is a tremendous opportunity to network with and learn from others who are at different points in their journey. The program leaders and faculty are outstanding.