What to Expect from a Virtual Board-Ready Bootcamp

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In March, when COVID-19 first disrupted all our lives, we put a pause on the award-winning Board-Ready Bootcamp as it was an intensive full-day, in-person workshop for which social distancing would be difficult, and, like many, we hoped things might be better by the fall.

In the months since then, we’ve learned a few important things: (1) COVID is going to be with us for a while and we must adapt; (2) business and personal growth must continue; and (3) digital experiences can deliver value in new and exciting ways.

In this post, I’ll share an overview of what is the same, what has changed, and why we are excited to be offering the bootcamp this October as an interactive digital experience.

 What’s the same?

The goals of the bootcamp remain the same as reported in the Boston Globe a year ago — to improve the quality and composition of board governance at tech companies by preparing the “rising star” women in tech, tech leaders of color, and openly LGBTQ+ tech leaders who are currently in senior executive positions at tech companies and are ready to make the leap to serve on a tech company or other board.

Bootcamp participants will again engage with a high-impact, interactive curriculum that includes both theory and practice on how high performing boards are structured, as well as executive networking with some of the most connected leaders in the tech community.

The bootcamp will continue to have interactive plenary sessions featuring industry leaders with many decades of combined board and executive experience, as well as small break-out sessions with group mentors for deeper discussions tailored to meet the needs of participants no matter where they are on their board journeys.

And, of course, the bootcamp will continue to provide structured networking to facilitate connections with industry leaders. Besides experience and positioning, getting on to a board is often about luck, timing, and who you know, so broadening participant networks into the circles where board recommendations are made is an essential element of the bootcamp.

What has changed?

As recently reported in the Boston Globe and BBJ, we are particularly encouraging the nomination of Black and Latinx tech executives as part of our 2030 Challenge to double their participation at all levels in tech over the coming decade. By going digital, we are also able to accommodate tech leaders, not just from local company offices, but from any location they may have around the globe.

By now, we’ve all experienced Zoom fatigue and recognize that an 8-hour zoom bootcamp would be torture, so we have reimagined the bootcamp and made some important changes, including moving from a very full single-day bootcamp to a series of shorter, half-day sessions, spread over multiple weeks. The digital bootcamp, therefore, starts with pre-recorded advance prep sessions to level-set before participating in the live interactive sessions on Oct 8th, 15th, 22nd.

On each day, participants will attend a one-hour plenary in Zoom followed by a 20-minute small group breakout with participants grouped by board experience level and industry leader mentors as sounding boards. Following the breakouts, participants will have an opportunity to take a short break, then reconvene for another plenary, another breakout, and then join a 30-minute structured speed-networking session with industry leaders to expand their professional networks.

For the speed networking, we will be leveraging a new digital interaction platform that enables participants to meet one-on-one with a half-dozen or more industry leaders each week, facilitating new meetings and relationships with 20+ industry leaders between the breakouts and speed networking.

Turning to the bootcamp subject-matter, our program begins with Board Fundamentals, the most information-intensive part of the program. We again broke the content up into three pre-recorded mini-sessions, each about 20-30 minutes, designed for participants to listen on a walk, watch at their desk or on their phone, or print the PDF and take notes old school on the hard copy slides.

What is the Agenda?

The Fundamentals of Board Governance sessions, presented by Steve Burwell, Partner at the law firm Foley Hoag, Matthew Littlewood, Partner at PWC, and Leah Malone, Director in the Center on Governance at PWC, include: The Foundations of Corporate Governance, Board Practices and the Role of Committees, and Governance Hot Topics: Board Composition and Risks, are designed to level-set and ensure we hit the ground running during the live sessions.

Plenary sessions include:

  • The Business of Boards: Linking Leadership & Governance, presented by Lynda Applegate, Professor, Harvard Business School.
  • What CEOs Expect from their Boards, an interactive discussion with Tracey Zhen, CEO of Zipcar as moderator, Mohamad Ali, CEO of IDG as a public company leader, Chris Comparato, CEO of Toast as a private company leader, and Beth Chandler, President & CEO of YW Boston as a non-profit leader.
  • What Board Committee Chairs Want, an interactive discussion with Deborah Ellinger as moderator, Elaine Eisenman of DSW representing the Comp Committee, Willow Shire of TJX representing the Nom/Gov Committee, and Jean Bua of Netscout representing the Audit Committee.
  • What Value Do I Bring to a Board, an interactive discussion with Pam Reeve, Lead Director at American Tower as moderator, Karen Golz, Audit Committee at Analog Devices as a private tech company board member, Corey Thomas, Vice Chair of the Audit Committee at BCBSMA as a non-profit board member, and Yogesh Gupta, Board of Beth Israel Lahey as a public tech company leader.
  • Planning Your Board Journey & Workshopping Your Board Bio with Wolfgang Bauriedel, Executive Director for Technology and Digital at Russel Reynolds and Gail Deegan, Founder of the Last Mile Initiative.
  • Lift as You Climb: Bootcamp Alumni Share Lessons, an interactive discussion with Pam Lenehan as moderator and Board-Ready Bootcamp 2019 Alumni Kamala Grasso, Jules Pieri, and Maria Loughlin sharing their journeys and advice to those who follow in their footsteps.

How Can I Learn More?

You can learn more by visiting the bootcamp website, viewing our 2020 Brochure, checking out the FAQs, and when you’re ready, you can apply here to participate.