Strides, formerly known as BoardSeatMeet, was co-founded by Rika Nakazawa and Malur Narayan, both senior executives driven by a passion to meaningfully solve the problem of diverse representation in leadership using modern technology.
The idea originated from Rika’s realization at a women’s conference that one of the most critical factors in how leaders attain senior executive roles – which we call “C-suite+” – is through being connected with the right people that leads to advocacy and sponsorship. These senior level networks and discussions have historically manifested in such social but professional settings as golf courses, sailing clubs, after-work drinks etc. We call this asset of access “Social Capital”, and believe it to be is the most under-acknowledged “wealth” gap between senior leaders in C-suite and boardrooms today, and underrepresented leadership talent that has lacked this asset. The historical scenario has created significant limitations to both a pipeline of familiar and diverse leaders that could be recommended by boardrooms and C-suite, and to access to conversations with senior leaders by diverse executives.
Our goal is to democratize access both ways – access to diverse executive talent for senior-most leaders, and access to conversations with senior-most leaders for diverse executives. Especially in a post-Covid era where the modes by which professionals cultivate Social Capital has been dramatically redefined with virtual conversations via Zoom, Teams, etc, along with a fundamental business imperative for advancing D&I among global enterprises – the simplicity and ease of a digital and intelligent platform to orchestrate these connections to advance diversity in leadership is both timely and powerful.
We are advancing the… well, ‘strides’ that individual executives, and especially corporations, can make towards getting more women, people of color, LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented leaders into leadership roles – one meaningful conversation at a time.
CEO & Co-Founder
Executive Roles: Accenture, Sony, Nvidia
Rika is a senior leader, entrepreneur, investor, and frequent public speaker on technology-powered business transformation. Her 15+ years experience spans orchestrating cross-functional engineering and business teams, activating open innovation, designing business development initiatives, and applying innovation strategy for market traction at speed.
As STRIDES co-founder and CEO, Rika has been focused on go-to-market and partnership, and being the overall face for STRIDES’ mission.
Trilingual in Japanese, German and English, Rika grew up in Japan and moved to the US to attend Princeton University. Rika has since worked internationally over two decades in senior executive roles in strategy, business development, and marketing with Fortune 500 companies – NVIDIA, Sony, Accenture, American Express – and Silicon Valley startups. She is a digital transformation veteran and has served on multiple venture boards in next-generation computing and artificial intelligence ecosystems.
Throughout her career, Rika has been an avid advocate for stakeholder capitalism (ESG) and especially advancing women’s leadership in governance, technology, and business across industry verticals and global dimensions.
Executive Roles: Tata, Nortel
Malur is a proven technology business leader with over 30 years of experience in technology industry having worked in five continents. He has held a broad range of senior management roles at Nortel and Tata ranging from product engineering, sales, business development, product management. He also has significant experience as an advisor to several tech startups.
As STRIDES co-founder, Malur has been instrumental in leading the technology vision and business strategy.
Influenced by strong women throughout his life and being an immigrant minority, he understands deeply the importance of leadership diversity in the workplace.
Malur holds advanced degrees in Computer Science and in Management. He pioneered self-managed teams in software development in the early 90s. His research in Reverse Engineering, Inverse resolution & Induction led to the development of Adaptive learning algorithms in Machine Learning.
He has been speaker on International business for EMBA programs at Cornell Univ., Imperial College, London and Queens Univ. in Canada.
He is known for his positive attitude, sense of humor, and is immensely passionate about trail hiking, creating music, gardening and sports. He is actively involved in charitable activities for mental health awareness.
Malur is based in Austin, Texas.