Having a seat on a board of directors or an advisory board is a surefire way to enhance your career and gain valuable professional experience. It shows your commitment to something outside of your normal “day job” and introduces you to new a level of leadership. Some professionals choose corporate boards that align with their business objectives, while others choose non-profit organizations that speak to their personal interests. When it comes to board or advisory board positions, there is something for everyone. But you may be asking yourself, when am I ready for my first board seat? Use these three points to help to gauge whether you are heading down the right track.
As a general rule of thumb, board and advisory positions are held by professionals who are in Vice President or C-Suite roles. This rings true for a few reasons. By the time someone reaches the VP level, they have acquired the skills and experience needed to participate at the board level. Whether they are the VP of marketing or a VP of engineering, they have successfully navigated their way up the ladder using a diverse and carefully-crafted skillset. They’ve done and seen it all. This dynamic skillset is what other companies need and look for in its board members. Additionally, VP and C-Suite professionals are already having direct interactions with their own company’s CEO or board of directors. This exposure provides an understanding of how companies and boards operate behind the scenes.
Joining a board of directors or advisory board requires effort. Because board positions don’t just come knocking at the door, these roles are typically filled by professionals who proactively seek career advancement opportunities. Again, this goes back to professionals in the VP level or higher. At this stage, VP and C-Suite leaders have been proactive throughout their career – no one rises to the top by accident. If a person has that same drive and self-empowerment, they are ready to consider board placements as the next step in their professional career. Board seats can open the door to new skills and expertise, while also expanding a person’s network.
Serving on a board of directors or an advisory board requires time and commitment. While the amount of time varies from board to board, it is typical for board members to attend regular meeting and take charge in projects or committees. If someone is always pressed for time or unwilling to treat it as another job, they most likely aren’t ready for a board position. Companies turn to its board for advice, strategic planning and problem solving, which means members must have the extra time and resources outside their normal day job to be an effective contributor to the group. In short, if you have put serious thought into joining a board of directors or advisory board, and identify with the above characteristics, you may be on your way to your very first board seat.
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