From Operator to Board Member: Board-Ready Bootcamp Alum Marty Blue

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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 the heory 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 Marty Blue, Senior Advisor at Boston Consulting Group, Entrepreneur in Residence at Harvard Business School, and 2019 Bootcamp participant.

 

 

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Can you tell us more about you and your Board-Ready Bootcamp journey?

My work experience prior to attending the Bootcamp was at Reebok, where I was a Senior Director of Licensing, and at CarGurus, where I was an SVP of Business Development. I joined CarGurus as an early employee and headed up Business Development (partnerships) until I left in June 2019. I also launched several additional functions at CarGurus including Sales, B2B Marketing, Product, and Industry Relations.

I first saw info about the Board Ready Bootcamp in an email from MassTLC. I knew that I was planning to leave CarGurus, and I knew I was interested in board work, so it seemed to be a good fit. I had also recently met Kirk Arnold [Executive in Residence at General Catalyst and MassTLC board member] and she encouraged me to attend.

I wasn’t on any boards prior to attending the Bootcamp, but I joined the board of OpenBay, a privately held company, in October of 2019. In the non-profit space I recently joined the board of Good Sports.  

What are your thoughts on the board diversity? What advice would you give other companies about why and how they can diversify their boards?

The main reason I was approached to join OpenBay was because of my industry experience. However, the fact that I added diversity didn’t hurt. As an independent board member, I am able to add a unique perspective. I’ve had several CEOs tell me that they need to have a more diverse board as a good example for their daughters! There certainly isn’t enough diversity currently on tech boards, but progress is being made. In order to be as effective as possible, boards need to represent the diverse composition of their employees and customers. 

What advice would you give to others seeking to make the leap onto a board? 

I wish I had started the board process sooner. I know it would have been difficult, as I was busy at work and at home, but it would have been good to get involved early, especially with a non-profit, in order to get more experience. My advice is to really network and tell everyone and anyone that you are interested in board work. You never know who will hear of an opportunity and make a connection.

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

I learned several important things at Bootcamp, including: the difference between being on the board of a private company versus a public one, the differing roles and responsibilities of board members, the pros and cons of joining a board, and how to find a board position that is a good fit for me.

I would recommend Board-Ready Bootcamp for anyone who is truly just starting out exploring the board experience. The main benefits for me were knowledge, confidence, and networking.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’ve since talked to several companies about joining their board, and it is very much like dating. It has to be not only the right fit, but also the right timing. The hardest thing about going from an operating role to a board is to not be involved in the day-to-day decisions. It’s not always easy to be hands-off, but that is the role of a board member, and Board-Ready Bootcamp helped me prepare.