How to Get on a Board

Securing yourself a board position as an experienced director or executive requires a similar skillset to school leavers and university graduates. In this situation however, you’re able to leave your naivety in your youth and apply years of experience to your benefit.

Pre-empt the beast

Before you begin your search, ask yourself the questions you would face in a board interview.

  • Why do you want to be on a board?
  • What can you bring to this company?
  • What are your most significant and rewarding successes and how did you achieve them?

Your search for a board seat will take a lot of time, so it’s best to establish your elevator pitch at the beginning. Opportunities are everywhere if you pay attention, because you might literally find yourself in an elevator with someone who needs a board member.

Research

Depending on your key interests, you might find a recruitment agency useful, or perhaps networking events in metropolitan areas. Employment websites like LinkedIn or Seek are the best places to start looking for opportunities, and don’t be afraid of not-for-profit organisations or small enterprises – they are excellent places to start. Executive Agents are also equipped to guide experienced directors and executives seeking their first board position.

Do the maths

Most of you will be financially literate, but this is an important time to brush up on your financial and problem solving skills. In board meetings, you are expected to contribute to and make decisions towards organising budgets, planning finances, and analysing reports. If these are the sorts of things you want to avoid, sitting on a board is probably not for you.

Walk and talk

Make it known that you are seeking a board position within your social and professional networks, and be specific with your interests. It’s worth reaching out to people across various professions – lawyers, consultants, venture capitalists, auditors, and directors. Keep the conversations alive and know your elevator pitch off by heart.

Leverage your X-factor

Once you’ve found some positions that interest you, write down answers to the following questions:

  • What makes you a valued board member for this company?
  • What do you hope to see this company achieve in your first quarter as a board member?
  • What do you want this company to look like in five or years?

It’s important to bring a bit of magic when applying to a board, whilst being realistic. If you can’t answer those questions about a board position with any enthusiasm, you’re probably not right for the role. And if you find yourself pulling statistics, gathering industry knowledge, and compiling data and research, then you’re onto something worthwhile.

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Originally published at Executive Agents.

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