We’re excited to announce that Shannon Gordon has joined theBoardlist as our CEO! Shannon has more than 20 years of leadership experience, including 10+ years building and scaling great user experiences at tech companies. Shannon started her career in the Peace Corps, before heading to Home Depot and McKinsey in the early part of her career. More recently she was the VP of Customer Experience at Walmart.com and the SVP of Operations and Customer Experience at Shyp. Shannon brings to us not only her wealth of experience as a leader and executive, but more importantly, a deep passion for theBoardlist’s vision.
Our founder, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, sat down with her to talk about her plans in her new role, views on gender equality in the boardroom, and the years she spent living in rural Africa.
Sukhinder: Welcome Shannon! We are so happy to have you join our team. Before we jump into theBoardlist, can you tell us a little bit about who you are outside of work?
Shannon: Thanks Sukhinder, so great to be here. Well, the first thing to know about me is that my family is central in my life. My parents, brother, sister-in-law and niece all live nearby so we get to have dinner together every week. Those nights are pretty sacred to me. My favorite place to travel is the south of France where I was an exchange student many years ago and I love to eat great food. I am passionate about being active and workout most mornings — mostly so I can continue eating great food. And, I love to salsa dance when I can manage to stay up past 10pm!
Sukhinder: What brings you to theBoardlist?
Shannon: I joined theBoardlist because it gives me the chance to marry what I love to do professionally with what I am passionate about personally. I have spent my time in the Bay Area building innovative experiences to solve customer pain points, from scaling Walmart’s omni-channel businesses to running operations at a startup focused on changing the way small businesses ship their product. theBoardlist is solving a problem very close to my heart — gender inequality in senior leadership roles — and I can’t think of a better way to leverage what I have learned in previous roles than in this important work.
Sukhinder: Tell me more about why gender inequality in senior leadership roles is “a problem close to your heart”?
Shannon: I have seen time and time again great women not included in the consideration set for senior roles simply because people aren’t familiar with the work that they have done. I know there is a great pipeline of female talent out there but they are sometimes limited by network and exposure. I have also worked on teams that have great diversity and teams that don’t. The quality of debate, quality of outcome, and culture between the two are dramatically different. There’s plenty of data to show that diversity leads to better performance and my personal experience has been no different.
Sukhinder: What is your point of view on the broader conversation about gender inequality in the workplace and how do you think theBoardlist fits in?
Shannon: This is an amazing time. Organizations like Times Up are raising our awareness about gender-related issues across industries. Firms like McKinsey are generating data that give us a fact base around gender gaps. And some companies, like Slack or BlackRock, are embedding diversity initiatives into the way they recruit or the way they invest. I am an optimist and believe that as these companies enjoy success as a result of their focus on these issues, others will follow.
Some might say that boardroom diversity is a narrow focus. But I can’t think of a better place to start than at the top. Board recruitment desperately needs to be modernized by bringing in new talent to address new challenges, seeking independent board members and broadening their network to source great talent. theBoardlist is the tool that makes those changes possible.
Sukhinder: Can you tell us some of the experiences you have had that have shaped who you are as a leader?
Shannon: One of my earliest experiences was as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal. I arrived with a very western mindset of driving results. Working in a completely different culture was a great lesson in the importance of listening, understanding, and relating to your colleagues before jumping to solutions. That experience also taught me self-awareness and perspective that shows up in my life today.
I was also really shaped by my experience at McKinsey. I am a big believer in data-based decision making and team problem solving. And, much to the chagrin of my colleagues at startups, I haven’t been able to shake the powerpoint habit. My first engagement as a manager there was also my toughest — both in content and characters! I spent all my time trying to protect my team from tough feedback and changes in direction. In the end, they told me they wished I had shared the burden so they could have learned and contributed to the solution. That was a great lesson in transparency and the power of a team that is “in it” together.
Sukhinder: Any early reveal as to what you are planning for your first few months at theBoardlist?
Shannon: Well, it’s week 1 so there are still a few details to iron out! You can be sure that there will be a big focus on the experience for our candidates and endorsers. That community is what makes theBoardlist special and we need to be crystal clear on their needs so we can build a product that meets them.
Sukhinder: What does success at theBoardlist look like to you?
Shannon: My ambition is to work ourselves into a pivot. I don’t believe we will work ourselves out of a job because there will always be important work to do in gender equality. But if we can achieve gender parity in the boardroom and can shift our attention to a new issue, I’d be pretty excited about that outcome.
theBoardlist is a curated talent marketplace that connects highly qualified women leaders with opportunities to serve on private and public company boards. Starting with the technology industry and now expanded across many verticals, theBoardlist offers public and private companies a platform to accelerate opportunities for women to achieve at the highest levels. Follow theBoardlist on Twitter @theBoardlist.