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In the Words of Experts: Onboard Intentionally

We asked experts about the importance of purposeful onboarding and what it takes to put it into practice in a meaningful way.

As a Nomination and Governance Committee Chair, I continually remind the full board of the importance of purposeful onboarding. For directors who are new to our company and our culture, we seek to provide a seminal first exposure and create a sense of belonging from the very start. As part of onboarding, we encourage new board members to mentor members of the management team. In addition to getting to know key contributors, this is a great way to quickly integrate into a function and gain deeper insights and diverse perspectives on the business from the start. Another key onboarding step is strategically assigning board projects to new members so that they can immediately step into value creation. For example, at Ultragenyx I was assigned the task of attending an R&D day as the board's representative. It gave me the opportunity to fully integrate into the science and provide feedback to the team and perspectives to the board.

Headshot of Shehnaaz Suliman

Shehnaaz Suliman, MD, MBA, M. Phil.

CEO, Recode Therapeutics | Board Member, 10x Genomics, Inc., Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, Inc.                                                       

When Better Boards Initiative surveyed experienced directors about their first onboarding experience, 42 percent said they wished they’d had a better idea of the hidden dimensions of board culture. Key steps we dedicate time for in Asana’s onboarding plan include having the Chair of the Audit Committee walk new directors through two years of financials, board culture, and how we communicate. We also pair all new directors with a current member of the board to serve as the primary onboarding partner – to discuss board materials with them and debrief with them after each meeting. We find it makes meetings more productive and helps new directors become fully impactful and engaged thought partners.   

Headshot of Anna Binder

Anna Binder

Chief People Officer, Asana | Board Member, Culture Amp