AAPI Month Boardroom Insights — Interview with Janet S. Wong

Introducing AAPI leader, Janet S. Wong, and how she landed her first corporate board role

AAPI Month Boardroom Insights — Interview with Janet S. Wong

For Asian American and Pacific Islanders Month, we’re sharing highlights from interviews with accomplished AAPI leaders making an impact in the boardroom and the world.  

Here, we're honored to introduce Janet S. Wong, who shares sharp insights around developing your board “super power” and her extensive experience serving on boards (non-profit to profit, private to public).  

 

Janet S. Wong is an experienced business executive named by the National Association of Corporate Directors to its 2022 Directorship 100™, an annual honor for leading directors and governance professionals. She is an independent board director and Audit Committee Chairman of  Lucid Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: LCID) an electric vehicle manufacturer and energy storage company and Enviva Partners (NYSE: EVA), a leading global energy company manufacturing sustainable bioenergy. Janet also serves as an independent board director of Lumentum (NASDAQ: LITE), a market-leading manufacturer of innovative optical and photonic products and Allegiance Bancshares (NASDAQ: ABTX), a commercial banking organization.

As a retired senior partner with KPMG LLP. Janet had responsibilities for national and global practices including eCommerce, electronics and new media, and R&D incentives. Her qualifications include recognition as an experienced Financial Expert by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.  Janet serves on the Board of Trustees for the Computer History Museum, the Louisiana Tech University Foundation and the Tri-Cities Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors.  

  1. Please share your perspective on the process of landing your first corporate board. And did it come from your personal network?  

Yes.  In fact, each of my corporate board seats have come from contacts with my personal network.  When I began my search for my first corporate board, I reached out to contacts in my network (especially C-level executives and experienced board directors) that I thought could be helpful in providing feedback on my board bio as well as to ask if they could keep my name in mind if they came across board opportunities and could introduce me to contacts in their respective networks.

  1. Did you already have board experience or exposure and if so, what type of governance experience did you already bring to the table?

During my full-time professional career as a CPA and Big 4 partner, I served on non-profit boards that certainly provided me governance experience and I also had experience attending Audit Committee and Board meetings of my clients.  Therefore, I was able to describe this experience in seeking a corporate board seat.  For example, I served on a CEO search committee for one of my non-profit boards as well as on Audit Committees which are valuable experience for a for-profit corporate board director.

  1. What was your personal value proposition and how was it uniquely suited for that board?

I think a board director should have at least one “super power” that he/she would bring to a boardroom.  Since I have been a CPA for many years with deep financial experience, this was one of my strengths that I could bring to board service because every public company board needs to have at least one qualified financial expert and many boards have more than one qualified financial expert.  I also have technology, manufacturing, service and consumer markets industry experience which enable me to bring value to boardroom discussions in areas such as global markets, digital transformations, mergers and acquisitions, supply chain, etc.

  1. How do you clarify your potential interest in public vs private board opportunities?

I think there is value to serving in both public and private boards.  There are private boards that can be quite large business enterprises and emerging private companies that may be public in the future.  When I evaluate a board opportunity, I look at the company including its culture, its business and potential growth  as well as management and the board.

  1. What was your biggest personal learning from your first board director appointment? Was there anything that surprised you about governance that you hadn’t originally expected or anticipated?

My biggest learning was to not be timid about speaking up and voicing my thoughts even though mine could differ from other directors in the boardroom.  

  1. Can you share any advice to aspiring board directors relative to the Committee selection process?

Typically if you have been asked to interview for the in the board, you will know if the board has a specific committee that they would like to consider you to be a member of.  For example because I have specific financial expertise, I am often considered for an Audit Committee role.  If you have a specific committee you would like to serve on, you should express that interest and be prepared to discuss why that committee would be a good fit for you.  Recently, I asked to serve on a Nominating Governance committee and was selected to join that committee.

  1. Does your board utilize a formal performance review process?

Yes.  My boards do have a formal performance review process.  However, the processes vary from very comprehensive where each director is formally reviewed through an interview process to annual questionnaire for the overall board and the respective committee(s) that you serve on.  In most cases, the review is kept confidential and the results are provided in a summary format. Regardless of the process, the Board Chair takes it seriously and there is discussion and feedback with the board.

~~~~~~~

Looking for your next board role, or want more information on the board search process? Join theBoardlist today to get your board search process started.

And if you want to connect with Janetclick here for her theBoardlist profile.

Thank you to Ascend Pinnacle for your partnership on this AAPI series - if you want to learn more about Ascend Pinnacle's platform to support and increase the number of Asian-Americans on U.S. Corporate Boards - you can find them here.