As more women reach senior roles within organizations they are increasingly interested in working on boards as independent directors. Research shows having a critical mass of women on a board leads to higher quality decision making, reduced operational risk, faster innovation, and better financial results on many key metrics. This program is designed to help you launch your search for a seat on a board, understand the skills required, and develop those most needed in today’s boards, which have evolved significantly over the last decade.
Becoming a board director helps women leaders in many ways, a few of which are:
- Acquire and contribute invaluable strategic perspective to prepare for success in a C-suite role
- Form important professional “mentor” relationships across industries and sectors
- Demonstrate subject matter expertise that can expedite professional advancement
Breaking into the boardroom can be challenging for anyone. Yale’s Women on Boards program gives its participants an advantage with guided preparation for the board search process. Prior to arriving you will complete pre-work, which includes pre-readings and drafting a board resume. You will develop your professional plan throughout the course and review your progress in a 3-month peer check-in.
What to expect
• Learn about the different types of boards and key responsibilities for board service
• Create a plan to build experience that makes you a competitive board candidate
• Complete a self-assessment to gauge your strengths and areas of development
• Participate in group executive coaching sessions to develop your skill set
• Develop a board resume that emphasizes the skills most desired by board’s today
• Engage with executive search firms that specialize in searching for women on boards
• Get input from experienced board directors, search firms, and corporate governance experts to understand what you need to know for a board search and for the role
Who should attend
Senior corporate or non-profit women executives currently in or preparing for the C-Suite, or who are preparing for a career shift into board service.
- Boards in the 21st Century: Board Types and the New Directors’ Roles
- Corporate Strategy: The Board Oversight Rule
- Network Building: Mentors, Sponsors, and Peers
- The Search Strategy: Working with Board Search Firms
- Women on Corporate Boards Panel
- Communicating Your Personal Brand
Women on Boards Faculty
Deputy Dean for Executive Programs & Professor in the Practice of Management
David Bach is Deputy Dean for Executive Programs and Professor in the Practice of Management at Yale School of Management. An expert in political economy, his research and teaching focus on business-government relations, nonmarket strategy, and global market regulation. His course “The End of Globalization?” received the 2018 Ideas Worth Teaching Award from the Aspen Institute.
As a member of Yale SOM’s senior leadership team, Dean Bach directs the school’s Executive MBA and, since 2019, non-degree executive education, including the school’s innovative online programs. He leads global strategy primarily via engagement with the 30-school strong Global Network for Advanced Management and oversight of Yale Center Beijing, which SOM runs on behalf of the university. He serves on the Provost's Advisory Committee on International Affairs.
Senior Lecturer in Negotiations and Ethics
Dr. Cain's research focuses on "judgment and decision-making" and "behavioral business ethics." In other words, he studies the reasons why smart people do dumb things. Cain is a leading expert on conflicts of interest, especially the "perverse effects of disclosing conflicts of interest," and how to turn altruism on and off. Notably, Cain’s research has been discussed in the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Forbes, The New Yorker, the Washington Post, BusinessWeek, USA Today, the New York Times, and other top media outlets such as NPR. Cain has won national teaching awards and has also appeared as a commentator on National Geographic’s popular TV show, Brain Games.
Zoë studies persuasion and decision making, working passionately to understand how people can lead happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives. At Yale, Zoë teaches Mastering Influence and Persuasion, advises Center for Customer Insights consulting and research teams, and collaborates with Google and Optum Health.
Lecturer in Sustainability
Dr. Cort works at the intersection of corporate responsibility and sustainable finance. My objective is to reduce the barriers to moving capital (either corporate or investor) to more sustainable investments. In this space, Dr. Cort is working on:
1) Metrics and standards for measuring the environmental impacts of fixed income investment products such as green bonds
2) Metrics and the underlying data for environmental, social and governance (ESG) that demonstrably drive corporate growth and improvement in equity value
3) Metrics for underwriting more sustainable insurance products – particularly around the means to measure effective climate adaptation
In addition to these specific research areas, Dr. Cort educates and collaborates with investors and fund managers to effectively integrate sustainability into investment strategies. These integrated investment strategies range from fixed income focused funds to venture capital strategies.
Fiona Scott Morton
Theodore Nierenberg Professor of Economics
Fiona M. Scott Morton is the Theodore Nierenberg Professor of Economics at the Yale University School of Management where she has been on the faculty since 1999. Her area of academic research is empirical industrial organization, with a focus on empirical studies of competition in areas such as pricing, entry, and product differentiation. Her published articles range widely across industries, from magazines, to shipping, to pharmaceuticals, to internet retailing, and are published in leading economics journals. From 2011-12 Professor Scott Morton served as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Economics at the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she helped enforce the nation’s antitrust laws. At Yale SOM she teaches courses in the area of competitive strategy. She served as Associate Dean from 2007-10 and she won the School’s teaching award twice.
She has served in an editing role on various academic economics journals, has won several research grants from the National Science Foundation, and is a Research Associate at NBER.
Emma Seppälä, PhD is Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education and the author of The Happiness Track (HarperOne, 2016). She is also Co-Director of the Yale College Emotional Intelligence Project at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a Lecturer at Yale College where she teaches The Psychology of Happiness. She consults with Fortune 500 leaders and employees on building a positive organization and teaches in the Yale School of Management’s Executive Education program. She has spoken at TedX Sacramento, TEDx Hayward, and companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Bain & Co, Ernst & Young, and a United States Congressional Hearing. She is a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today, Huffington Post, and Scientific American Mind.
Professor Sonnenfeld served as full tenured professor at Emory's Goizueta Business School for a decade and a professor at the Harvard Business School for a decade, and is currently the senior associate dean of leadership programs as well as the Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management for the Yale School of Management, as well as founder and president of the Chief Executive Leadership Institute, a nonprofit educational and research institute focused on CEO leadership and corporate governance.
Professor Sonnenfeld's related research has been published in 100 scholarly articles which appeared in the leading academic journals in management such as Administrative Sciences Quarterly, the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management Review, the Journal of Organizational Behavior, Social Forces, Human Relations, and Human Resource Management. He has also authored eight books, including The Hero's Farewell, an award-winning study of CEO succession, and another best seller, Firing Back, a study on leadership resilience in the face of adversity.
“I had very high expectations from the WOB program, both in terms of what I would acquire in class and what I would learn from the other participants. The week exceeded my expectations in so many ways. I am not an easy grader, but I give this program an A+. It was informative, thought provoking, rich with discussion and distinguished experts; all of which created an amazingly smart and generous environment. The program took us on a wonderful journey throughout the week and then left us exhausted but still yearning for more.
Professor Jeff Sonnenfeld was (and is) absolutely brilliant! He made learning fun and exciting. He is one of the fastest and the wittiest thinking/talking people I have ever met. His ability to remember events and names is mind-blowing. The creator of the program, Lisa Hamm Kammert, deserves major kudos for her vision and her passion. Lisa’s care and diligence in the selection process brought together a group of strangers, who bonded quickly and will stick together longer than Krazy Glue ever could. Tim Shea made all the administrative details look easy by his commitment to excellence and his tireless efforts to meet all our demands.
I am a new and improved person at the end of my WOB week; a sentiment shared by each of the participants.” – Yakut Akman, former Chief Third Party Management Officer, Citigroup
“I recommend the WOB experience without hesitation. The program, including the top-notch curriculum, teachers, mentors, guest stars, and fellow attendees exceeded all expectations. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld’s devotion to equality shone through every aspect of the seminar. Jeff’s depth of knowledge about corporate governance, CEOs, and Boards of Directors combined with his outstanding ability to integrate all of it into one jam-packed week simply stunned me and my classmates. (All of whom are now friends.) The WOB week flew by, and I came away thinking it was more than worth the investment. Plus, we had so much fun every day!” – Lynne Federman
“The WOB program was exceptional. It provided superb education on a wide span of topics and a remarkable “and fun” group of peers. I had no idea how much I did not yet know about board service and how better equipped I would be at the end of an intensely productive week. Thank you, Yale SOM!” – Virginia L. Bennett, Senior Director – International Programs, CNA and Former Acting Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State
“The program provided an understanding of the role of a board member in the current environment and how to begin a process of seeking a board seat. It provided the tools to create an informed plan of actionable steps to improve my skills where needed and to create a strategy to pursue my goal.” – Amy Lazarus, Chief Operating Officer, SPP Capital Partners, LLC
“I highly recommend Women on Boards to those seeking a high caliber, intense management class that is sure to propel you personally and professionally.” – Nicole Russo, President and CEO, Microboard Processing, Inc.
In the news
“New Executive Education Program Prepares Women for Board Leadership,” Yale School of Management
Travel & Lodging
I need a VISA letter. How can I get one?
If you are an international participant and need to apply for a VISA, please contact Tim Shea at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive an official Women on Boards invitation letter for your VISA application.
What is the best way to get to and from New Haven, CT?
If traveling by plane, Bradley International Airport (BDL) is approximately 45 minutes from New Haven and is served by nine major carriers to 29 non-stop destinations and connections. The city of New Haven is also accessible from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), and LaGuardia Airport (LGA). Tweed New Haven (HVN) is the airport nearest to New Haven, but offers limited service.
In all cases, travel by car or train from the airport to New Haven is necessary. For detailed information on air and train travel, please visit the “Visit New Haven” web site.
It is recommended that you arrange transportation from the airport through Hy’s Limousine or GO Shuttle. It is not recommended that you take a taxi to New Haven from the airport, as it would be very expensive.
If traveling by train via Amtrak or Metro-North, select New Haven Union Station as your final destination. Taxis are readily available at the train station. The ride from Union Station to the Omni Hotel is about 10 minutes and costs approximately $13 USD.
Will transportation be provided during the Course?
Yes, transportation will be provided by Yale Executive Education.
Where can I make a hotel reservation?
We will arrange a special rate at the Omni New Haven Hotel for WOB participants.
Where is the Course taking place?
The Course will take place at the Evans Hall, 165 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT.
Am I allowed to record sessions or presentations during the Course?
No. Recording during sessions is not permitted.
November 8 – 13, 2020
Registration coming soon
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Registration will close once the program reaches capacity.
How do I explain the benefits of the certificate program to my supervisor?
Download the Sample Justification Letter.
*Program Fee Benefits
15% off for NON-PROFITS
15% off for YALE SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT Graduate
10% off for YALE UNIVERSITY Graduate
15% off for 4 or more people
For more information, please contact Lisa.Kammert@yale.edu.
Pathways to Getting the Gig: A Conversation with Corporate Governance Expert, Betsy Atkins
My WOB Story
Testimonial by Daniela Ortega Sosa
I applied to the May 2019 Women on Boards (WOB) cohort after months of thorough research on the different programs available both in Mexico (country of residency) and the United States and strongly believe that I could not have chosen a better program: I knew it before attending and confirmed it both during the program and afterwards!
My selection of the program was based on many factors but there are two that merit a comment. First, it is a very comprehensive program that, while targeted to women, maintains an appropriate balance between classes that are board- or corporate governance-related and classes covering gender issues and/or more specifically addressed to women.
Second and a main driver of my decision, the objective of the WOB program is to prepare attendees for the Board role; it does not assume that you already have a Board seat or require you to hold such role in order to be admitted. Although this may seem logical (i.e., first you prepare for the role, and then you accept the role), it is a common practice for most programs to require some sort of Board experience.
The combination of these two factors led me to select the WOB Program, because it offered me a complete curriculum and a great opportunity to connect with other women who were considering transitioning (or already in the process of transitioning) from holding senior executive roles to exercising influence from the boardroom.
On the date that WOB started I was excited but anxious. I had recently terminated a 16 year tenure at a major global financial institution, with the goal to become an active and modern non-executive director. Indeed, my participation in WOB was my first formal and significant action in support of this new professional cycle. Any signs of anxiety disappeared upon meeting the Faculty and my classmates, who were open, caring, curious, respectful, and outspoken from the beginning. This was the preamble to a week full of deep and engaging discussions, surrounded by superb and qualified Faculty members, panelists, and administrative staff, whose main mission was for us to have a great experience and be able to get the best out of the program.
Attending WOB changed my views of executive and board leadership in many ways. On the executive side, I am now more conscious that maintaining an open and collaborative line of communication with the Board is pivotal but does not shield you from being fired if they get impatient with the company’s results or misunderstand the intended strategy. Consequently, it is important to ‘tell your story’!
In terms of board leadership, I realized the many challenges behind gender diversity. As one of the panelists shared with us, being selected is tough enough but it is not all; most of the time you are the only woman in the room, which can be intimidatory and demands being able to speak up and to do it loudly (if needed)! This is why it was emphasized that it is not sufficient to appoint one woman to the Board, but companies should seek to maintain a critical mass (2 or 3 female Directors); in fact, it is not until such mass is achieved that the gender element is no longer perceived as a diversity issue.
We are undergoing a major transformation of the Director role and its importance, given the level of responsibility involved. The expectations at stake are high and the engagement demands are constantly increasing, which is why strong leadership skills are key. Through this integral program we learned how to confidently make hard-to-reverse choices and maneuver through uncertainty and adversity.
The Yale WOB program taught me that in order to remain competitive in today's markets, companies must be able to achieve organizational agility, which requires them to have leaders (including board members) who are perceptive, sensitive, curious, and exercise high values of integrity, all of which were covered throughout the program.
In sum, I had an invaluable and productive week at Yale during my participation in the May 2019 WOB edition. It was an extraordinary learning and networking experience that left me better prepared for the corporate governance role for which I was subsequently appointed, as well as for any other similar appointments with other companies to follow.
Thank you, Yale SOM, the WOB Faculty, and my dear colleagues for this fulfilling experience!