History of WomenExecs on Boards 

In December 2016, Harvard Business School offered the first Women on Boards: Succeeding as a Corporate Director executive education program. The program, designed for high-achieving, board-ready women, included content to prepare them to navigate the board selection process and effectively govern as corporate directors.

The 67 women from the inaugural program arrived at Harvard with an endorsement of their board ambitions from their CEO or another director. The women were prepared to contribute to corporate governance at the highest level.

The inaugural class represented 17 countries and brought energy and enthusiasm that transformed into momentum, and something magical happened in the week they spent together. After completing the course, the question was: Now what? How do we leverage that momentum beyond the Harvard campus to drive our mutual goal of getting on a board?  Lisa Pent, a 2016 class participant, took the initiative to arrange bi-weekly calls to keep the group together to continue learning from each other and guest speakers, including board members and board chairs, recruiters, activist investors, and others.

In 2017, the second annual class went through the Harvard program, which had grown significantly from the success of the inaugural class. Before long, many of these women also joined the bi-weekly calls, and the idea to establish a formal network was born.

Bonnie Hagemann, a 2016 participant, created a sortable roster of the 2016 and 2017 participants. As she reviewed the roster, she considered each woman, her position, location, and likely network of influential people. When the list was complete, she had gained insight that if this group of women decided to, they could come together in a way that could change the business world in their lifetime. She discussed the idea with Lisa, and they co-founded today's formal network, WomenExecs on Boards (WEoB). 

The idea was simple and groundbreaking; to create a formal network to bind us together, to be 100% committed to each other’s success, and to use our connections to help each other to advance the state of women on boards and in senior executive positions, first for ourselves and then to leave the ladder down to help those coming up behind us.  As we continue to grow, this idea that intelligent, resourceful, and connected women can have a much more significant impact together than individuals has become a reality.  

In 2018 the WomenExecs on Boards Network was officially formed, and we held our first in-person annual meeting in New York. We laid the foundation and structure to build a meaningful, vibrant network.

With the support of the Harvard Business School, each year’s new class of Women on Boards participants and, more recently, women who complete the Corporate Director Certificate program are invited to join the WEoB network. Many men, women, and organizations have helped our network along the way, and they continue to champion our members, our organization, and our mission.

Our network grows more robust with every board seat, C-suite position, education session, meeting, and personal connection. Our members are generous with their resources and connections and have helped and continue to help each other get board seats and C-suite positions. Members help one another prepare for board interviews and cheer collectively every time one of our members has a success.

With great anticipation, we look forward to our future together as we continue to grow closer and more connected, sit on more corporate boards worldwide, and collectively influence gender equity in corporate governance in our lifetime.


 WomenExecs on Boards First Annual Meeting | October 2018 | New York City