How do you land a position on the board of directors of a public company? Director of teenage clothing brand Zumiez reveals what worked for her

Lili Gil Valletta is a member of the board of directors of Zumiez, a retailer specializing in brands for skateboarders and sportsmen, and the kind of teenagers who wear “Virginity Rocks” t-shirts, ironically or not.

Valletta joined this council in 2019, although she did not apply for the position. In fact, she says she was unaware that she was being considered for a director position until her first informal interview. She now chairs the board’s nom-gov committee.

I asked Valletta, co-founder and CEO of Cien+ and Culturintel, two consulting and marketing companies based in the United States and Colombia, to explain how she first found herself on the board of directors of a listed company.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Fortune: How did you get your first seat on the board?

Lili Gil La Valette: I served on the National Board of Directors for YMCA USA, one of America’s largest nonprofit organizations, for six years. The board is run with the governance structure and discipline of a board of directors, which gave me the opportunity to not only understand the dynamics of the board, but also to contribute my perspective and data. on the critical need to understand demographic change and inclusion as a driver of competitiveness. Knowing that the under-18 population, a key segment for the Y, is already overwhelmingly in the minority and that all consumer and population growth is driven by diverse communities, I had no excuse to bring hard data and numbers to challenge us to reinvent our membership strategies, marketing and overall growth plans. I prepared each appointment well and took my work seriously, which was noticed by one of my colleagues, an independent administrator at Zumiez at the time. He connected me with the president nom-gov there in 2018.

First, the Zumiez Board of Directors hired me to give a presentation using my company’s Cultural Intelligence Executive Accelerator with the brand’s leadership team. I didn’t realize that the practice session was actually my first interview.

What have you learned since becoming a director? And what surprised you?

While it is understood that the role of the board is one of oversight and governance, not management or action, it can be difficult for some directors to find the balance between telling and asking. I learned and sharpened my ability to listen attentively.

It was also a pleasant surprise to find that I could put aside my suits and stilettos and wear hoodies and Vans to board meetings. We are not there only for the good of the shareholder and the brand, but we are there to represent and “live the brand”. Even the way we dress in the conference room is part of it, allowing us to be open, engaged and, yes, lots of fun.

What advice do you have for aspiring administrators?

Let your performance and actions speak louder than your resume and title, especially when serving on nonprofit committees or boards. You just never know who is watching. As with athletes, scouts can be anywhere at any game.

Being part of referral networks, like the Latino Corporate Directors Association, is also very important for expanding your network, learning from others, and continuing to give back, mentor, refer, and be referred as a candidate among your peers.

Lila MacLellan
[email protected]

Hello, Modern Board readers! Are you a board member of a public company? I would like to know how you got there. Let’s unravel the mystery of how companies find and recruit new directors. Write to me at [email protected].

A word of advice

“Traditionally, business strategy comes first, and then managers determine who and what they need to achieve their goals. With workforce ecosystem thinking, one can flip the script and say, “Given that we have access to these people, these skills, and these technologies, what kinds of business strategies can we throw ?” »

—Elizabeth Altman, Associate Professor, Manning School of Business, University of Massachusetts Lowell

On today’s agenda

👓 Read: BlackRock is expanding its Voting Choice program, which allows investors to vote on corporate governance issues at the fund manager’s funds. It also plans to extend the same voting rights to retail investors in some UK mutual funds.

🎧 Listen: In the nonstop updates on Elon Musk as CEO and “sole director” of Twitter, it’s easy to forget why the platform matters. Let Kevin Roose, New York Times technical journalist and recent guest on The Dailymake you remember.

📖 Bookmark: Spencer Stuart’s annual report on the state of America’s boardrooms is out. It covers diversity statistics, trends in board turnover rates, board compensation practices, and more.

on board/on board

Chief Twit Elon Musk dissolved former Twitter board, led by Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, days after the purchase of the business. After serving as a director for 21 years, the former CEO of Carnival Arnold Donald will resign from its board of directors at the end of November. Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, a Schwab heir, director of the Charles Schwab Foundation and author on personal finance, was named to the Schwab board of directors. Barrick named Isela Costantini, CEO of Argentina’s Grupo Financiero GST and former CEO of Aerolíneas Argentina, to its Board of Directors. The Novavax Board of Directors has recruited Richard Rodgers, former CFO of biotechs acquired by GSK, Celgene and Eisai. Avery Denison typed Invoice wagnerretired CEO of GoTo Group (formerly LogMeIn), to become a director.

In short

— Meta shareholders called Mark Zuckerberg “deaf” to their spending concerns.

– They are the top contenders for the position of CEO of Twitter.

– With its severance package, Ford is playing hardball with underperforming white-collar workers.

– Ninety-three percent of S&P 500 boards now disclose their racial and ethnic representation.

— Microsoft’s board plans to vote against two shareholder proposals calling for an independent review of the company’s military contracts.

– A cult-favorite, cutting-edge water cooler company survived a pandemic that killed “water cooler moments.”

Editor’s Choice

Boards are looking beyond the usual suspects (CFOs, COOs and division heads) to find future CEOs. These days, the top job could easily go to the CHRO, the executive whose role in keeping a company’s strategy and culture on track has been highlighted by the challenges of the pandemic. At work. My colleague Amber Burton, who writes FortuneThe CHRO Daily newsletter, dug into the nuances of this trend in a fascinating article.

Here is an exerpt :

“Ironically, one of the most valued aspects of the CHRO role might be the very thing that hampers the momentum of his corner office. CHROs have become entrenched in succession planning over the years and are often seen as the most objective person in the boardroom. They’re usually responsible for giving business leaders tough feedback, and that’s part of what made them successful in this consigliere role.”

Read more here and have a great weekend.

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