Developing tomorrow's leaders today

The Programme

OnBoard is a one-year program enabling top tech sector talent to begin their governance journey through  quarterly training modules on governance fundamentals and a startup board observer role.  

Quarterly Workshops

Throughout the year, candidates receive structured quarterly governance workshops, covering key fundamentals and the finer things that can come up in a start-up governance environment.

Workshops are delivered by leaders in their field. Our curriculum includes: 

1. An Introduction to Start-up Governance - The Angel Association & Matū Fund 

2. Finance for Governance - the Institute of Directors 

3. Capital Raising - New Zealand Trade & Enterprise & DLA Piper 

4. Springboard: the next steps - the Institute of Directors

Hands-on Board Experience

Successful candidates are paired with a Host board for one year of practical governance experience and mentorship. The position is legally an ‘Observer’ role, but this doesn’t mean you are on the side-line!


OnBoard works closely with directors, founders, and investors to identify suitable Observer roles. Our host partners are:

Passionate about nurturing the next generation of independent board directors.

Keen to create value through thought diversity.

Welcoming of new expertise in a relevant vertical, sector or subject matter.


Our 2021 cohort will give 10+ individuals access, opportunity and knowledge in the world of start-up governance. Applications for our 2021 programme open November 2020. The Programme commences in March 2021.

What are we looking for:

  • A passion for technology. You live and breathe it, and most likely have experience in the sector. 

  • Ambitious, high potential talent. You have the edge to learn and grow fast, and to lead others.

  • Technical, functional or subject matter expertise. 

  • Strong sector knowledge and/or relevant network.

  • Beginning your governance journey is a key personal goal.

We are not looking for:

  • Your university education.

  • Your CV.

  • Prior governance experience.

Personal attributes that we value:

  • Committed - you are ready to dedicate around 8 hours per month, over 12 months. 

  • Eager - you want to actively contribute and unlock value for the startup you are working with.

  • Self-aware - you understand your strengths and weaknesses, and are committed to developing yourself.

  • Hustle - you eat challenges for breakfast, and are not shy of getting things done.

  • Curious - you seek out new experiences and knowledge, and are interested in governance and want to start filling your boots in this area.

  • Motivated - humble ambition, with a fierce commitment to excel.

The process:

  1. Complete the application form below, between 13-22 November.

  2. Application review - applications are reviewed by a panel in January 2021.

  3. Interview with OnBoard - shortlisted candidates will be contacted late January 2021 for a chat. 

  4. Interview with Host board - final candidates are connected to match host board for a discussion.

  5. Outcome! - successful individuals will be notified by the end of February 2021. The programme commences in March 2021.

Frequently asked questions

What stage of startup is involved?

Typically, Host opportunities are on Series A or B startups. These terms help denote what stage of growth the startup is currently in, and by this point, you can expect that a company would have formal governance processes in place. A funding round is typically the trigger for the creation or addition to a board. OnBoard carefully vets Host opportunities to determine their suitability for the programme.

What exactly is an observer role?

Startup boards are typically comprised of three to five Directors:
- an investor representative(s), - the founder / CEO representative(s), and - independent member(s). Observer roles enable an additional person to sit in on the governance process, but the role does not have the legal liabilities of a formal Director. Candidates's kick-off training on governance will educate you further on this arrangement.

How does the matching work?

The benefit of the program to the individual is getting real experience in governance and building a network in the startup ecosystem. The benefit to the startup is getting fresh perspective from a diverse individual with expertise relevant to the startup board. One key element OnBoard matches on is the alignment between the individual and the expertise demand of the Host board.

Do I need to be based in Auckland?

No. Successful candidates will be paired with a Host board in the same city. The location availability is driven by the location of our participating startups. For the 2020 cohort, 9 of the 10 Hosts were based in Auckland. Quarterly workshops will be held in Auckland and details to join virtually for those out of Auckland will be made available. Travel costs associated with the individual attending workshops or any other events associated with the Programme are not covered by OnBoard.

Does it cost?

This program is free to candidates and hosts. The cost is covered by OnBoard supporters who are aligned on the objective to grow a thought diverse pipeline of tomorrow’s startup board members.

Please note that the workshop curriculum for OnBoard 2021 will be held in Auckland. Travel costs associated with attending workshops in person are not covered by OnBoard.

I don’t work in tech. Can I still apply?

This program is open to everyone. Our experience is that Host boards are looking for individuals with experience working in the technology sector. Check out the 2020 cohort to get a gauge on the level and background of successful candidates. We are interested in hearing about your deep expertise, which could be valuable to a tech startup.


© OnBoard 2020

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