• Lori A. Jazvac, MRW

Board Governance: Take the leap to enhance your career growth

Updated: Dec 10, 2019


Executives, are you ready to adopt your next challenge: Board governance?

Board leadership can enhance your career growth and build your résumé experience.

These days, many executives are seeking to diversify their careers with board roles where they can drive change. Since 2013, I have supported executives to take this next leap in their careers.

Board Governance = Strong Accountability + Commitment

Serving in a board role is about governing, leading, recruiting, supporting, and planning –– ultimately, acting in the best interests of the organization. It's about remaining objective while being able to juggle different tasks, issues, and personalities.

Board governance comes with rewards and challenges, offering executives greater credibility and new depth to their experience while enabling them to make a real difference to an organization.

And board roles often pay well.

However, board governance comes with accountability and commitment to meet the organization’s strategic objectives. You may only meet a few times per month or year, and perhaps travel to new places, but there are critical decisions to be made that will impact the health of the organization.

Wearing different hats, building multiple key relationships, and making critical decisions is essential to maintaining the bottom line, driving growth, and ensuring compliance.

The Board Selection Process: The Right Place, Right Timing

If you are a Senior VP or Director of a large corporation, you could apply for CEO positions and end up interviewing for a rewarding board role.

Have you researched any companies in transition lately requiring specialized expertise? A board may appoint someone with a specific background or level of expertise in mergers/acquisitions during a restructuring. A CEO may vet an executive due to their success in spearheading company expansions –– even without a board vacancy.

Boards often seek out new members when a director departs due to retirement, death, disability, or resignation. If two board members are leaving by the end of year, a company would begin prospecting individuals with specific areas of expertise such as technical, legal, or auditing.

Selecting a board member is often about being at the right place at the right time.

Remember, board directors are overseers, discussing and equating issues to shareholder value, arriving at decisions via census and collaboration. The board selection process can be rigorous, following a checklist of certain demographic criteria, diversified skill sets, and finely blended experience.

Board Résumés: Different than Traditional Executive Résums

To effectively position yourself for a board role, you need to know the board role requirements and the board sectors you're targeting. While a traditional executive résumé is directed to the hiring manager / influencer, a board résumé is targeted to the Nominating and Governance Committee overseeing the board recruitment process. This requires a completely new résumé presenting your value at the highest strategic level.

A board résumé presents your value at the highest strategic level. It needs to demonstrate a distinct focus, strategy, format, and accomplishments that align with board-level requirements.

Are you prepared to adopt a Board role? Review the criteria:

>> Clear Goals. What are you hoping to gain from this board assignment? Having a clear focus is critical to meeting goals.

>> Value. Where would you be able to add unique value to a specific type or size of company? For example, serving in a for-profit board role is different than in a non-profit.

>> Addressing Challenges. What challenges or governance topics of interest would you be able to address? For example: funding, improved care/service delivery, investment strategies, or better risk management in healthcare. Do a SWOT analysis.

>> Trustworthy Reputation. Leveraging excellent endorsements and solid brand marketing collateral --including a compelling résumé and LinkedIn profile -- is critical to positioning yourself for a board role.

>> Compensation. Board pay varies. If you earn a six-figure salary, you might be able to negotiate $200,000/year, meeting a few times per month or year and consulting via phone once or twice/month.

>> Accountability. Are you prepared to address different board responsibilities? They vary from role to role and industry to industry. Travel may be involved as well.

>> Objectivity. Can you maintain an objective distance from the management of the organization in order to avoid conflict?

>> Shareholder Relations. Interfacing with shareholders is instrumental in for-profit board roles.

>> Strategic Planning. You will be accountable for planning and overseeing the financial goals of the organization, including fiscal / budgetary responsibility.

>> Compliance. Are you able to assume the auditor’s role while gauging risks and complying with certain by-laws or regulatory policies?

Here are core qualifications required for a board role:

>> Personal Experience.

Boards search for various traits or qualities of members that depend upon the current state or company’s needs. For example, if a company is in a financial state of distress, a director with years of success in turning around organizational performance would likely be a valuable asset.

>> Governance Issues & Practices

Are you aware of the governance issues impacting the board? Understanding governance practices, risks involved, and knowing how to manage these risks in a board role is important to achieving strategic goals.

>> Firm Industry Knowledge.

Is the industry regulated? If so, do you have the expertise, knowledge, or interaction to interface with those regulators?

>> Effective, Results-Driven Communication.

You need to be a competent communicator who can voice your opinion diplomatically to the team while remaining respectful of varying opinions.

>> Credibility.

Boards look for members with access to credible resources and government connections, professional alliances, or consultants who can offer insights, expertise, and positive recommendations as references.

>> Team Building.

Building relationships with the CEO, as well as other board members is vital to success. Be prepared to engage in mentoring and succession planning.

>> Financial Expertise.

You need to be able to read and analyze balance sheets, P&L statements, cash flow documents, and audit documents. Before attending board meetings, review all key financial information so you can provide analytical insights to fostering growth and cost savings.

>> Strategic Planning.

You will need to create and implement policies/procedures and sustainable short/long-term business marketing plans to drive better metrics.

>> Technical Expertise.

Boards need technically savvy members to navigate current and emerging technologies to track progress and fuel innovation.

Research Board Requirements to Determine Qualifications

Do you want to further explore whether you would qualify for a board role? Visit Indeed, LinkedIn, or other company websites to review board role requirements.

If you want to level up your experience and fuel change through board leadership, let’s work together to set you apart.

Lori A. Jazvac is an award-winning Master Resume Writer / Career Coach, and Founder of Creative Horizons Communications, a Halton-based holistic career services firm. She positions jobseekers of all fields and levels for their next career transition.

Think creatively and visualize a new career horizon!

#boardexperience #executiveresume #boardleadership

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