Martin Rowinski is the co-founder and CEO of Boardsi, which is a modern recruiting company providing executives with Board of Advisors and Directors positions and companies with top C suite Executive talent. Through advanced technology, human connection and private networks, they help revolutionize businesses and grow careers.
Martin is a technology executive with over 25 years of experience providing leadership, developing and implementing strategic processes, and deploying new products to streamline services and improve growth in lead generation and sales in the fields of recruiting, finance, technology, marketing, and mortgage lending. He served as a CTO in the past and is currently CEO of an executive recruitment firm, Boardsi, leading the way for executives to connect with companies seeking executive talent for Boards of Directors and Boards of Advisors. Martin is also the author of a book, The Corporate Matchmaker.
I had the opportunity to interview Martin recently. Here are some of the highlights of that interview:
Jill Griffin: Great to be in touch with you, Martin. I’m interested in your background. Have you served on boards before starting your business?
Martin Rowinski: Yes, but I have done a lot more consulting. I have helped companies go public, but I didn’t’ get equity. I got paid well, but again I didn’t get equity. So that was my motivation for creating Boardsi. I got tired of just doing consulting and walking away. I wanted to start partaking by getting on boards, whether as an advisor, getting equity, or earning equity over some invested time. I had a hard time finding opportunities. It was next to impossible. So that was the reason we created Boardsi. We wanted to create a central network where companies could come to us and say, “Hey, we need executives on our board.” And we have the executives on our membership that are ready to serve.
Griffin: Tell me about the membership.
Rowinski: So we have main memberships, there’s a paid version, and then there are people that see a few of our opportunities listed on LinkedIn.
Sometimes, we’ll struggle with finding the right type of executive, so let’s just say we’ve exhausted IT companies. Maybe they need diversity and the skill set, and we just haven’t found that combination to the company’s satisfaction. So we’ll go to LinkedIn and put up a basic job description without ever identifying the company since we sign an NDA with. And those people, when people see it on LinkedIn, are allowed to send in their board documents to us identifying the job that they’re interested in. People don’t pay for this kind of subscription. But we’ll go ahead and forward their application. And if that’s the right match, we’ve done our job.
The paid subscription gives you access to our back end, which is a platform where all of the jobs and opportunities are, and members can apply to them.
They actually see the company’s name and information – their values, mission and vision, who the CEO is, etc. So we give them a lot of information and who they would possibly be working with if they get the position.
Griffin: Sounds excellent. Do you do matchmaking?
Rowinski: We like to call ourselves a SaaS company. We try to walk away from being called a headhunter or a recruiter, but we’re an opportunity platform. We display all the opportunities out there for our members – the executives. If they think they’re a good fit, they can apply to them. And we screen everything before we send anything to an executive.
But we also will, on the back end, do some matching. As soon as we get the application, sometimes our staff knows who the perfect match is, just because we work with these executives day in and day out. Often, they would just pop into their head that this certain John Smith is the perfect guy for this opportunity. Then we’ll go ahead and send a message to John Smith and offer the opportunity, and if they like it, they let us know. Then we go ahead and set up the interview.
So we do matching – human matching. We also have algorithms that try to pick out basic skills and match a person to an opportunity right away. So we do it on both sides.
Griffin: That sounds great. How are you using technology?
Rowinski: So we have a backend that’s protected and only available to our members. On that backend, there are two versions. There’s the version that the members see, and then there’s the admin side of it that we see. We have a lot more information than the members see, and we utilize some AI technology by a third party company that analyzes their profile and LinkedIn profile. It does a deep dive where it will return different levels of where their skill sets are, where their emotional EQs are, and all kinds of other skill sets. And that helps us match up with what the opportunity is. We also, on both sides, ask specific questions. When we bring on an executive, we do about half an hour of onboarding call, asking them very specific questions. And we do the exact same thing with a company. We bring them on and ask them the same kind of onboarding questions. So then the matching becomes a little bit easier with the datasets that we have in the database.
Griffin: Do you work with startups, mid-market, New York Stock Exchange companies, NASDAQ, all of those?
Rowinski: Literally all of those, including nonprofits. Often, when we bring on an executive that doesn’t have any experience, being on boards, a nonprofit is a great way to start. We do have a few nonprofits, we do have startups, we have a lot of mid-range, and we’re getting bigger and bigger in publicly traded companies. My fun spot is in the mid-range, with companies looking to go public but missing two or three board members who can just take them there. Those are exciting for us because they are the noticeable results that you can show that we’ve been part of.
Griffin: For my readers, what traits should they have that will give them a good chance of succeeding when they use your site?
Rowinski: I would say one must be ready and have an available time commitment. Many people think you can be on a board and have a one-hour meeting every quarter. That’s not a reality. That’s called an ineffective board member. To be an effective board member, you have to make a change and make a difference.
From midrange companies, you’re probably going to be putting in a lot more time; they’re probably going to be asking you a lot of questions. For publicly traded companies, it’s a bit different. They have a whole system in place; you might be doing less work there. But you’re also going to have to be certified and have certain types of training, which we just released. It has a three-year certification afterward. It’s a great class and great opportunity, and it’s on-demand. It’s also totally affordable, which was our goal because many younger executives can’t afford a $12,000 course while they’re still working. And for us, we need diversity, and that includes age. So for this course, we put it under $600. It’s on-demand, and you can watch it on your own and get certified right at the end.
Griffin: What’s the content of the course?
Rowinski: Learn the proven and effective steps for not only modern-day Board operations, but also successfully plan and implement your personal Board Director Candidate strategy. Experience how these achievable & focused efforts help you convey the experience and confidence needed for serious Board Director and Board Advisor consideration. Education & Certification Course is designed for any stage of your career and any level of Board experience. And from just listening and partaking in this class and reading the book, you’re really going to discover exactly what type of board member you’re going to be. Mark Pfister is leading the course, and he will really help you discover what exactly you can bring to the board.
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