AAPI Month Boardroom Insights — Interview with Jevan Soo Lenox

Introducing AAPI leader, Jevan Soo Lenox, and how he landed his first corporate board role

AAPI Month Boardroom Insights — Interview with Jevan Soo Lenox

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 Jevan Soo Lenox and how his experience as Head of People and Culture in hyper-growth, consumer-oriented companies, along with two non-profit board roles, is supporting his current search to find a corporate board role.  

 

Jevan Soo Lenox is the Chief People Officer at insitro, former Chief People and Culture Officer at Stitch Fix, and former SVP of People and Culture at Minted. He is a professional 'people person' who has embraced the joys and heartaches of hyper-growth and consumer-oriented companies, drawing upon 2 decades of operational leadership and consulting experience in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. 

Half of Jevan’s career has been in People Ops and half in business roles such as management consulting at McKinsey and Sales Ops at Square. Jevan spends his time thinking about how to create long-term, sustainable competitive advantage through a lens of people, culture, and organization. Jevan serves on the board of Reaching Out MBA and previously Out 4 Undergrad.

  1. Please share your perspective on the process of landing your first corporate board. 

For context, I have been interviewing for corporate boards over the past year, and have been on 2 non-profit boards.The opportunities have come from both my personal network as well as search firms. Opportunities from my personal network have often been particularly good fits for my experience, perspective and passion. This is not surprising given that the 'matchmaking' was done by great people I have worked with in the past who know me really well as a leader.

arterly board meetings as well as drove the content for the Compensation Committee.  

  1. How, if at all, did the board's existing demographic status affect your perception of the board opportunity? How might that perception have changed over time? 

It was important for me to see existing diversity on the board and also hear about their commitment to increasing diversity over time, on whatever dimensions where there is more opportunity to bring in different perspectives and experiences that would strengthen the group. Diversity of the executive team and the company is also an increasingly important topic for board engagement, and the board needs to role model this from the top!

  1. What is the onboarding experience like when joining a board? 

It really varies based on the board, but I think good onboarding involves both knowledge transfer (what are the things that the new board member needs to understand), guidance from existing board members to understand the role and particular dynamics of that board, and relationship-building with the CEO.

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

I have been on two non-profit boards, including chairing the Nomination & Governance Committee, and led a search for an executive director.  In addition, I spent over three years as the Chief People Officer at Stitch Fix (NASDAQ: SFIX) and attended all quarterly board meetings as well as drove the content for the Compensation Committee. These experiences have given me a good sense of how boards work and how to think about the dynamics between them and the CEO and her/his team.

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

I have had the unique opportunity to work in a wide range of industries (fintech, food & beverage, e-commerce apparel, biotech) with global experience (successful market launches in Japan, Canada, Australia, UK as well as having personally spent 3 years based in Shanghai and working across the Asia-Pacific). My functional focus is people strategy and operations and helping companies scale quickly while also transforming their business models, especially if they combine leading-edge technology and engineering with front-line hourly employees.

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

My interest in board opportunities is rooted in having the most positive impact that I can on an organization and an executive team. Given my experience in scaling high-growth companies pre-IPO and helping them expand their business models, as well as my experience as a public company operator, I can help companies through a variety of challenges and opportunities. So my interest is less binary on those dimensions, and more about understanding the fit between the board's needs and what I can bring.

  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? 

One dynamic that boards often struggle with at younger companies is the balance between providing strategic input and knowing the details, vs. trying to help manage the details. This desire to be helpful on operational concerns can sometimes tip too far into the weeds! I think it's important to clarify and constantly communicate what topics are for board discussion and input, and what are true board decisions.

  1. Can you share with us how any of your boards pivoted to address the global nCovid-19 pandemic? 

At Stitch Fix, like many other retail companies we were challenged in the initial months of the pandemic by extreme supply chain disruption - both getting the merchandise we needed in the hands of our customers as well as figuring out how to staff and run our warehouses safely, with tremendous financial risk and concerns. Spring 2020 is probably the most intense time period of my career! But it was also inspiring and gratifying to see the board and executive team really come together to steer the company through such a challenging and scary time.

  1. How, if at all, did the board's existing demographic status affect your perception of the board opportunity? How might that perception have changed over time? 

It was important for me to see existing diversity on the board and also hear about their commitment to increasing diversity over time, on whatever dimensions where there is more opportunity to bring in different perspectives and experiences that would strengthen the group. Diversity of the executive team and the company is also an increasingly important topic for board engagement, and the board needs to role model this from the top!

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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 Jevan click here for his 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.