Boardsi’s Humble Beginnings
While Poland was in the grips of the Soviet Union, many citizens were faced with a daunting fork in the road of their lives: either oppose the regime and face fatal repercussions or find an equally as dangerous escape route. For Martin Rowinski’s mother, it quickly dawned on her that the latter was the only viable option.
Rowinski, now the CEO of corporate recruitment company Boardsi, credits his success to his mother’s courage at that moment. When learning Russian was introduced as a compulsory part of the Polish curriculum, Rowinski argued with his teachers. Why should they have to learn the language of this oppressive regime?
“After I got a detention for talking back to my teachers, my mom realized that my tendency to speak up against the establishment could end up having far more serious consequences. A lot of the people that fought the policies of the regime ended up dead.”
When he was 10, Rowinski’s mother took her son to Italy to briefly live with his sister, before then making the journey across to the USA in pursuit of the fabled American Dream. Rowinski and his mother lived with his aunt in California for a period while they settled in and got back on their feet.
As he documents in his book, ‘The Corporate Matchmaker,’ because he was plunged into a foreign culture without speaking a word of English, Rowinksi struggled during high school. He was regularly bullied for his accent and the ‘girl jeans’ his mother dressed him in; however, little did his bullies know that Rowinski was already displaying a level of resilience that every successful entrepreneur needs.
Studies have shown that immigrant children often have a unique drive and determination to make the most of their fresh start, which has contributed to the fact that they are statistically more likely to build successful careers than US-born children.
Rowinski’s grit began to be rewarded in college, where he took an interest in computers and graphic design. This was the forge within which he began to hone his natural entrepreneurial talent. After graduating, Rowinski quickly built up an extensive wealth of experience by running his own mortgage company and marketing business.
His path ultimately led him to found Boardsi, an AI-based executive matchmaking company that helps businesses to find skilled board members and advisors. Boardsi provides its wide network of executives with the best chance of getting selected by offering them training and educational resources. Rowinski is also keen to elevate diverse executives and level the playing field for them; in the US, 97% of US companies’ senior leadership teams fail to reflect the demographic composition of the nation.
Boardsi now works with a host of high-profile companies and continues to help executives to find fulfilling board positions. Few would have thought that Rowinksi’s humble beginnings would blossom into the nationwide business empire that he runs today - except, perhaps, for Rowinksi’s self-professed hero: his mother, who made that liberating but frightening decision to leave Poland all those years ago in pursuit of a brighter future for her son.