Diversity is the new buzzword for corporate boards.
94% of board directors say that diverse members bring unique perspectives into the board room, according to PwC’s 2020 “Annual Corporate Directors Survey.” Meanwhile, more than four out of five directors agree that diversity improves relationships with investors and enhances board performance, while 72% also agree that board diversity enhances company performance.
The biggest issue that remains is how to find great candidates that can add new perspectives and value to a board.
Insider partnered with theBoardlist, a group that connects highly qualified women and underrepresented minorities with opportunities to serve on private and public company boards, to create a list of 10 rising stars. The leaders selected are all members of an unrepresented community, willing to serve on another board, C-suite executives at a large, brand-named company, and contributors to the growth of the company where they’re currently employed.
“These 10 board candidates share high potential as measured by leadership ability and aptitude, scale, career growth, and successes,” Nicole Kyner, head of search at theBoardlist, told Insider.
“Finding the right person to take a board seat is not a pipeline problem,” she added. The key, she said, is matching talent with the right opportunity: “The talent is out there, and it is about making connections that will bear fruit.”
Here are 10 professionals worth keeping an eye on.
The following are listed in no particular order.
Rashida Hodge spent over 18 years at IBM before joining the Microsoft team in 2021.
She spent over 18 years at IBM, where she influenced the creation, development, and scale of IBM’s most significant technologies and led the commercialization and global launch of IBM Watson, an AI platform for businesses.
She’s a founding member of the venture firm How Women Invest, an early-stage venture firm investing in and amplifying female-led and female-majority owned companies. She’s currently a board member of Girls Inc., a nonprofit that provides direct service and advocacy to girls, and Misty Robotics, a company that’s developing personal robots.
“Hodge is a global leader who drives and delivers on large-scale technology transformations,” Kyner said. “Her passions are technology, culture, and diversity.”
Sherice Torres, vice president of marketing at Facebook Financial
Sherice Torres brings over 25 years experience in marketing, brand management, strategic planning, and change management.
She currently serves as vice president of marketing at Facebook Financial, where she’s responsible for all aspects of global marketing across Facebook’s payments products including Facebook Pay and Novi, a digital wallet being developed by Facebook.
Previously, she served in several senior marketing roles at Google, including social responsibility marketing, kids and family products, and product marketing for Google Pay and Google Shopping. She also served as Google’s global director of inclusion.
Earlier in her career, she spent nearly 15 years at Nickelodeon in a variety of leadership roles across consumer products, strategic planning, and digital.
She’s a founding member of Chief, a private network aimed at driving more women into senior leadership positions, and an advisory board member for Colorwave, a nonprofit focused on economic empowerment, and Virginia Commonwealth University’s BrandCenter, a two-year, full-time masters program. She’s also a board member for Breakthrough Silicon Valley, a college access and readiness nonprofit organization based in San Jose.
Anu Gupta, chief strategy and transformation officer of Bed Bath & Beyond
Anu Gupta is an executive with a strong track record of transforming and optimizing business innovation and leading strategic growth at brands such as Target, Safeway, and The Michaels Companies.
She’s the former chief operating officer of Jyve!, a business optimization platform and talent marketplace based in San Francisco. Her specialties include industry transformation, global operations, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate development. Gupta currently serves on the H&R Block board.
“With strategy and business optimization experience gained at retail giants along with a tenure as COO at Jyve, Anu brings both strategy and operating chops,” Kyner said.
Lisa Cohen Gevelber, chief marketing officer of Google Americas Region
Lisa Cohen Gevelber has deep experience in general management, marketing, and product management after working in Silicon Valley for over 20 years.
As a member of the global leadership team of Google’s Ads and Commerce business, she led Google’s global marketing for eight years, helping the business grow from about $30 billion to $130 billion.
For the past 11 years, Gevelber has also been the chief marketing officer for the Americas Region at Google, leading marketing for Google products including Search, Maps, Ads & Commerce, Play, Pay, YouTube, and Android.
She’s been an active advocate for diverse communities at Google, where she’s the founding executive sponsor of the Google Hispanic Employee Network and executive sponsor of the Google Veterans Network.
She’s a former board member at Sutter Health, a $10 billion healthcare system with 24 hospitals, five medical foundations, and 55,000 employees serving over 3 million patients.
“Lisa’s career spans from early-stage startups to brand-named companies, including Procter and Gamble and Google,” Kyner said.
Yen Lee, chief strategy officer at Jones Lang Lasalle
Yen Lee founded three startups in his 25-year career, all of which were successfully acquired.
Lee now works as an advisor for both Canadian and US companies while leading strategy and corporate development for Jones Lang Lasalle, a global commercial real-estate company valued at $9 billion.
“Yen’s entrepreneurial forays have successfully focused on growth and acceleration,” Kyner said. “Plus, he’s an experienced executive coach.”
Deena Bahri, chief marketing officer at StockX
Deena Bahri has held CMO roles at several major consumer-focused brands, including leading beauty subscription company Birchbox, where she built the marketing function from the ground up and grew its user base to over one million subscribers across four countries.
Prior to that, Bahri held senior marketing positions at Gilt Groupe, an online shopping site, The Ladders, an online job-search service, and Reebok.
As chief marketing officer for StockX, a live marketplace for exclusive sneakers, streetwear, handbags, and watches, she’s helped to grow the company’s ecommerce business to its recent $3.8 billion valuation.
Kyner called it one of the hottest consumer goods ecommerce companies in the marketplace. “Deena is the whole package, with a track record of success in building brands that resonate deeply with consumers and culture alike,” she said.
Poulomi Damany, general manager of Credit Karma Money & Tax
Poulomi Damany has spent her career helping companies use data to enable fast and scalable experimentation, drive engagement, and create personalized consumer experiences.
She began her career working on Symantec’s product management team for more than six years, followed by four years at Yahoo!, where she initially managed a team of over 20 engineers.
Over time, she grew that Yahoo! team to an 100-person, globally distributed engineering team, supporting the company’s multimillion-dollar advertising business.
She’s currently the general manager of Credit Karma‘s newest Money business unit, which includes checking and savings products aimed at helping members spend wisely, save for the future, and build wealth. She’s a former advisory board member of CaringBridge, a free, private online journal for sharing health updates with family and friends.
Paul J. Walsh, global chief digital officer at Lenovo
Paul J. Walsh has led some of the world’s largest companies during his 20-year career, including Visa, Dell, Amazon, and Microsoft, focusing mainly on business transformation.
He’s currently the global chief digital officer at Lenovo, a company valued at $15 billion, with 57,000 employees and operating in 180 markets around the world.
Walsh currently serves on two boards — RSTOR, a provider of cloud services, and Quantum Metric, a platform for continuous product design.
“Paul’s scale of experience is unique and includes tenure as global CIO at Dell,” Kyner said. “His focus at Lenovo has been on improving customer experience from channels and process to data, operating models, and culture.”
Melissa Fisher, chief financial officer of Outreach
Prior to taking on multiple chief financial officer roles, Melissa Fisher spent 15 years as an investment banker advising companies in the technology sector on a range of issues including mergers and acquisitions, valuation, capital allocation, and shareholder issues.
During her investment-banking career, Fisher advised companies on more than $400 billion of transaction volume at major investment banks, including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Securities. Fisher went on to hold roles in financial services at Digital River, Zynga, and Qualys.
She’s currently CFO at startup Outreach, a business-to-business sales engagement platform. Fisher serves on the board of Model N, a company that enables life sciences and high-tech companies to drive growth and market share.
“With a pedigree of experience which includes investment banking and experience as public company audit chair, Melissa is now a sitting CFO with a true passion for products that deliver mission-critical results,” Kyner said.
Ralph Clark, president and CEO of ShotSpotter
Ralph Clark led the transformation of ShotSpotter, a patented system of sensors, algorithms, and artificial intelligence that detects, locates, and alerts police to gunfire, and ultimately took it public in 2017. The company is currently valued at around $385 million.
Clark is also the former CEO and president of GuardianEdge Technologies, a data protection company acquired by Symantec for $73 million in 2010.
Earlier in his career, Clark worked for IBM, Goldman Sachs, and Merrill Lynch. He was recently appointed to the board of TriNet, a payroll services company.
“Ralph is a proven CEO with a commitment to social impact and a remarkable success record as an entrepreneur and trusted advisor,” Kyner said. “He has led and founded several startups, venture capital firms, and financial services firms. He has a proven track record of corporate, financial, and organizational leadership.”