What to do if you are aiming for a board seat

A board position is not out of your reach if you play your cards right. Click To Tweet

Landing a seat on a corporate board is a well grounded career path for any successful woman executive. Not only will it expose you to a quality network of high profile individuals but it can also be a viable way to use your experience and skills to serve at a very high level. Serving as a director can also be a good post retirement gig.

According to a report by Africa Development bank (AfDB), women make up only 14.4% of boards of blue chip companies in Africa. If you want to get on a board of directors at some point in your career you have to be intentional about your career experiences. Here are six tips that can help you tick this well-regarded role off your career bucket list.

1. Consider your motivation

Being a board of directors is prestigious and can open lots of other opportunities for you. However, you should want it for the right reasons. It is more than the prestige and the status. A more noble reason would be wanting to make a valuable contribution using the skills and experience you have amassed during your career.

Being clear about why you want a seat is very important because you will be able to answer questions such as which positions that you are interested in, what your value proposition will be and how your interests, experience, strengths align to a director position. You will then be able to establish your goals and the strategy that will  get you there.

Being on a board of directors is more than the prestige and the status Click To Tweet

2. Work on your personal brand and gain work experience

Landing a seat at the table is is usually reserved for older executives who have several years of experience in their field. You have to earn extensive experience in your field. Embrace every opportunity to work with a board of directors, even if it means just presenting or serving in an advisory role.

To improve your chances of landing this role, establish yourself as an expert in your field. Be visible by taking up speaking engagements, building a blog and a community around your brand.

Review how the careers of successful board members progressed. How did their careers progress and what can you emulate? A simple search online will get you good answers on these questions.

3. Start networking

These positions are not advertised so it is important for you to know people in similar roles. It is board members who already serve on company boards who are approached for similar roles.

Connect and develop relationships with board members. Get help from them on how to how to craft your CV for a board seat. Let them know that you are interested in a position if it comes up. That way, when the next position opens, you might just get recommended for it.


4. Don’t be afraid to start small

You probably won’t start off on a board of a public company. You will have to start off by serving on a smaller company board or a start-up.

Even the small roles might still be hard to find and you will have get your name out there and let people know that you are interested in such roles. Volunteering for a board position at a local non-profit might be your gateway to your career aspirations.

5. Start your own business

Entrepreneurs are attractive people for roles on a board of directors because they have worn too many hats in their career. Starting and running a successful business equips you with a lot of skills ranging from goal setting, strategic planning, financial acumen, industry knowledge, problem solving,  that are invaluable to a a board.

Did you know that entrepreneurs are attractive people for roles on a board of directors? Click To Tweet

Most people who were able to get board positions at an early age did so because of a successful business that they helped set up and grow. So why not do the same?

6. Training

There are several courses you can consider to improve your skills. It is important to note that you will not be hired for a board position solely on the basis of training.  Find out where your weaknesses are and compensate these with formal training.

For example, if you’re short on financial skills and corporate governance, you could consider getting training in those areas. There are also specific courses for aspiring directors that you could pursue.

Women stand a bigger chance and there’s a higher demand by stakeholders to have more diverse boards. A board position is not out of your reach if you play your cards right.


About Gloria Kambedha

Gloria is the Founder of Accelerate your ambition a digital media platform that helps young Ugandans get ahead in their career through various initiatives. She is on a mission to help young Africans bridge the gap between ambition and achievement.

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