11 Reasons Why You Should pursue a Board Career
Whether a board career is a future goal of yours or you never thought about pursuing a board appointment, it is something that you should give some serious consideration to.
A few years ago all boards looked the same; board members were all white, male and over 65 years old. It was the general conception that in order to sit on a board, you must have had a successful executive career from which you retired and that you are looking for ways to still contribute, since you are now retired.
This view has changed considerably over the last two decades and boards are making strides in taking the lead when it comes to diversity and inclusion in companies. Organizations are now looking for board members who represent a much more diverse part of the community and these inclusions prove to be advantageous not only to the functioning of the board but in many instances to the bottom line of the companies they represent. This culture of diversity and inclusion on boards is creating many more opportunities for a wider range of people than ever before.
Why should you take advantage of the climate of diversity and inclusion?
There are many advantages to having a board career. Let’s look at a few of them:
- It will add more gravitas to your CV.
Being a board member is something that many see as a badge of honour. I was taken aback a bit by a board member a while back when she said to me that she enjoyed chairing the local board of a worldwide not-for-profit because when she attends any event and people hear of her role, all eyes are immediately on her. This is probably the worst reason to take a board role but at the same time, if you can add a board role to your CV or your LinkedIn profile, it does give a certain gravitas that it would not have without that experience. This level of gravitas will not only help advance your board career but will also give you an advantage when it comes to promotion in your executive career.
- Being a Non-Executive Director gives you invaluable experience.
Taking a board role early in your career will give you experience that you will probably not be able to gain anywhere else. Apart from the leadership experience, you will learn how to negotiate different outcomes, often from opposing viewpoints, and how to use your own influence when it comes to matters of importance. You will be able to evidence this level of experience when you apply for future executive and non-executive roles.
- You will gain an understanding of the way your own company’s board works.
If you are looking to level up in your career, an understanding of the way the board works can be invaluable to you. Understanding the dynamics that influence the decisionmaking process and gaining industry knowledge on a leadership level are only two of the factors you will understand once you have gained some board experience.
- You get to work with people whom you otherwise won’t have access to.
Even small not-for-profit boards often have board members who are heavyweights in a certain industry. Many of the world’s biggest business leaders follow their passion and ‘give back’ by serving on some smaller boards that operate in a sector they are passionate about. Sitting across the boardroom table from such leaders won’t only teach you a lot, you will have access to them as a fellow board member. This kind of exposure to worldclass leaders is priceless and can often lead to new business.
- You could get paid for serving on a board.
This is often a contentious issue but many boards pay their board members a sitting fee. Sometimes these fees can be a significant amount. At the very least, most boards (even in not-for-profit organizations) should reimburse you for agreed expenses.
- It can give you continuity on your CV.
Imagine going through something like the Covid-19 pandemic and losing your job. At times like these it can be difficult to find something new. If you have a board role, there won’t be a gaping hole on your CV that you have to talk about during future job interviews. You will be able to show that you have been making strides in your board work in the absence of an executive role.
- Serving on a board could future-proof your career and make it more resilient.
I already mentioned that you can get paid for certain board roles. This income could carry you through during a time when you have been made redundant or the business you worked in closed down. Not only that; having a board role could give you access to other career opportunities that you may not have otherwise known about. Not to mention how much better your CV will look when you start looking to make a career move.
- Prepare for post-executive life.
At some stage in your life you will want to retire from your executive career. Gaining board experience during your executive career paves the way for you to keep serving on boards after you retire. Maintaining an active and taking on new challenges after retirement has been proven to add years to your life.
- Kick the tyres on a portfolio career as a non-executive director.
How does a portfolio of board roles as opposed to a full-time executive career sound to you? There are many non-executive directors who have made that switch. Taking a board role will give you the opportunity to peek behind the curtain of board life before you decide to resign your executive role for a portfolio career.
- You become a leader in your community.
There are a range of community organizations that have non-executive directors. Working within your community on this level will not only give you a deep understanding of the community in which you live and work, you will become known as a leader, able to influence development and positive change in your own community.
- You get to live your passion.
Every one of us come to a point in our lives where we wonder how we can give back. Serving on a board that serves a sector you are passionate about is one of the best ways to give back or help bring positive change. As a bonus, you will sit alongside people who share this passion with you.
If you are passionate about helping the homeless, why not apply to serve on a board that helps supply services to the homeless in your community? If you are passionate about animal’s rights, why not serve on a board that works to stop cruely against animals? I can go on and on but you get the idea.
Do you want to find out if a board career is for you?
Even if you have never considered a board role or you don’t even know what it is all about, don’t fret. Attend one of our live Introduction to Your Board Career webinars. Here we discuss the difference between an executive and a board career, where and how to start and the documentation you will need to apply to vacant board roles. Sign up now – it’s free and there are slots available at different times.