The Board Bio: Getting into the Game

(Post shared from LeBow College of Business, Drexel University,

The Raj & Kamla Gupta Governance Institute asked board bio experts and the authors of “Be Sharp: ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ in Great Introductions and Professional Bios,” Paula Asinof and Mina Brown, to discuss how overlooking the important step of developing a board bio could lead to missed board opportunities.

As everyone knows, board seats don’t grow on trees. So how does a successful senior leader get one? It’s not by filling in an application and sending in a resume. In fact, in the early stages of board candidate selection, the resume may not even matter. This is where a well-designed, engaging and perfectly targeted professional bio is the way to go.

Traditionally, boards have been filled by colleagues and associates of sitting board members. In fact, it’s quite common for executives to sit on multiple boards, frequently with members who share other board assignments.

Board members comprise a small community. Breaking into the hallowed halls requires relationships and serious networking. Korn Ferry’s recent article, “The Boardroom’s Stubborn Glass Ceiling,” found that “the process of filling vacant director positions has historically been done by word of mouth” among people who know (and trust) each other.

Anyone who is pursuing board opportunities must become expert networkers. A professional bio becomes an essential tool for expanding one’s visibility and communicating qualifications. Board search committees especially like bios in the early stages of the selection process because they are short, engaging documents that can be easily obtained, shared and reviewed by members for both immediate and future consid

                           “Done properly, the bio will capture the reader’s attention with the candidate’s unique value, match with the organization’s needs, and fit with the board as a governance team.”

A board bio serves as an introduction to a prospective candidate from which information can be grasped quickly.

Done properly, the bio will not only present the qualifications of the individual but also capture the reader’s attention with the candidate’s unique value, match with the organization’s needs, and fit with the board as a governance team.

A good board bio is a story-telling document, a kind of “personal press release”, that conveys who the board will get if they select a specific candidate – beyond credentials. Although it includes career history, tightly summarized and cherry-picked for the most relevant information, it is not just a mini-resume. It also speaks to leadership style, unique attributes, and team alignment. The best bios include a professional headshot that communicates professionalism and energy and contributes to making a good first impression.

Resumes are not irrelevant, of course. They typically come into play later in the selection process when top candidates are being evaluated more in-depth or when an executive search firm has been engaged.

Our word to the wise: For anyone serious about securing a board seat, networking is imperative—it could take years of relationship building. And a board bio enables these conversations. With the demands of corporate governance today, highly qualified candidates need to get into the game.

Footnote 1: Korn Ferry, This Week in Leadership, “The Boardroom’s Stubborn Glass Ceiling”, November 29, 2018


Paula Asinof is a broadly experienced career management executive, authority on resumes and bios, and founder of Yellow Brick Path, a career coaching, consulting and resume services firm. She also advises Board of Directors candidates on their bios. Paula is known for helping clients become more focused, articulate, and energized as a result of her resume “makeover” process. Clients appreciate the depth of her “real world” executive experience in major corporations, career services, and executive search as she advises them on their resumes and other career management issues.  Paula is distinguished by her ability to identify, leverage, and develop talent. Throughout her career, she has helped clients, peers, and subordinates recognize their unique capabilities and position themselves as “A” players by addressing career strategy and professional positioning and visibility. She has a contagious enthusiasm and passionate belief in people that inspires them to become prouder, stronger, and more valuable contributors to their organizations. She has also led innovative initiatives to build top performing organizations with staying power.

In addition to founding Yellow Brick Path, Paula is a co-founder of Coach Academy International, a cutting-edge coach training program. Her background includes 10 years of Executive Search recruiting as well as serving as Director of Career Services for Sanford-Brown College where she received the President’s Leadership Award. Earlier, Paula held leadership positions in Information Technology and Finance with GTE (now Verizon), Rand McNally, and the Chicago Stock Exchange. She began her career at Laventhol & Horwath CPAs.  Paula holds an MBA from The Wharton School, an MA from Columbia University, and a BA from Washington University in St. Louis. She is also an NLP Practitioner, a Certified NLP Coach (NLPC), a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and an Associate of Career Thought Leaders (CTL). She has served on the Boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas/Dallas County and the Friends of the Katy Trail, an urban thoroughfare in Dallas. Her articles on career management have appeared in the business and local press. She is an author of BE SHARP: “Tell Me About Yourself” in Great Introductions and Professional Bios, BE SMART: Sail Through the Hazards of Conventional Career Advice, and MAKING PRACTICAL SENSE OF CAREER MANAGEMENT: A Comprehensive Guide for Modern Career Coaching, all available on

Mina Brown has been an executive coach, career management consultant, and entrepreneur for nearly twenty years. As a former senior operations executive and CFO, she brings together a successful leadership track record, business savvy, unusual intuition, compassion, and unflinching candor. She works with professionals at all levels who are changing jobs or changing careers as well as leaders in large global companies such as Microsoft, Xerox, Dell, HP, Nissan, and PepsiCo. Mina was CFO of Aviall and SVP & General Manager of its Aerospace Division. Earlier, she held management positions with Ryder System, Amax, and Price Waterhouse. Mina holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and is a CPA, Certified NLP Coach (NLPC), Board Certified Coach (BCC), and recognized as a Master Career Coach (MCC) by the International Coach Federation (ICF), a credential awarded to only the most accomplished coaches in the field.

By Paula Asinof and Mina Brown
Paula Asinof and Mina Brown authors