Why become a Board member and how to find your first role?

Putting yourself forward to sit on a Board and become a Non-Executive Director is a really rewarding experience with many benefits – both professionally and personally. Not only will it help to develop your business acumen and enhance your CV, but you’ll get to play an active role in the success and growth of an organisation you care about.

If you’re happy to commit some of your spare time and contribute your skills, experiences and expertise to a Board, you will be rewarded with many benefits. These can include the opportunity to make an impact on a business, learn new skills, broaden your network and improve your reputation and credibility.

Being a Board member can add distinction, financial compensation (sometimes), and excitement to your career. Sounds great. But how do you go about finding and then securing your first Board or Non-Executive Director position? We’ve put together a useful guide to help:

Think about what skills and expertise you could offer a Board and what sets you apart from others. Your career and qualifications maybe in a specific area such as finance or Human Resources, but your personal attributes are just as important. If you have experience in mentoring, team leading skills or you’ve overcome barriers to achieve personal success, you’ve probably got valuable skills to offer a Board.

Don’t underestimate what you can contribute – we’ve all got an area of expertise and above all Boards need interested people who can offer insight and common sense whilst asking challenging questions. You don’t need to be highly experienced or highly qualified, you just need to be able to share your knowledge to support others to do the job.

Research companies that interest and stimulate you. Are you interested in the public, private or charity sector, mid-size business or start-ups? As a Board member you’ll be responsible for advising and inspiring the CEO and making a real impact on that organisation, so the intellectual rewards can be huge.

Find a position by searching online for companies seeking board candidates and asking around in your professional circle if anyone knows a CEO looking for a board candidate. Remember, as a NED you’ll need to be completely independent which means having no contractual or business relationships with that organisation.

Gain experience and develop skills that will be useful in a board role. Are there any committees or panels in your organisation you can join, or voluntary roles in the local community (such as becoming a school governor at a local school)? This will give you valuable experience, demonstrate your commitment and confirm you enjoy this kind of role.

Submit your application to the proper contacts. If you’re sending an email keep it succinct. Introduce yourself and your experience in the first paragraph. Then explain briefly how you can add immediate value as a board member. Highlight your experience, skills, qualifications and connections and attach a CV to the email.

If you are looking for a Board role or if your organisation is interested in strengthening its Board, Ocean Edge Executive Search can help. Please email or call us on 023 8000 1153 for a confidential discussion.