How to Get a Board Seat
How to Get a Board Seat. Good Advice from real Board Members…
You’re an executive or an aspiring one with a wealth of experience and credentials. You’ve been involved in some major projects, and you’ve helped your company achieve impressive growth.
But there’s one thing you haven’t been able to check off your list:
How to Get a Board Seat
If you’re interested in joining a company’s board of directors, here are a few tips on how to make it happen.
How to Get a Board Seat
1. Do your research.
The first step is to identify the type of board you’re interested in joining. Do you want to be on the board of a publicly-traded company? A nonprofit? A startup? Once you’ve determined the type of board you’re targeting, do some research on the organizations that fit that criteria. Identify which ones you’re particularly interested in and start reaching out to your contacts within those organizations.
2. Make yourself indispensable.
Once you’ve identified the companies or boards you’d like to join, it’s time to start adding value. Whether it’s through offering advice, introductions, or financial support, find ways to make yourself an indispensable part of the organization. The more valuable you are to the organization, the greater the chance you’ll be offered a seat on the board.
3. Network, network, network.
As with most things in life, networking is key when it comes to landing a board seat. Get involved in industry events and get to know other executives who serve on boards. These connections will not only help you better understand the board process, but they could also lead directly to .
A board seat can be a great way to further your career and make valuable connections. If you’re interested in joining a company’s board of directors, do your research, make yourself indispensable, and network with other executives who serve on boards. By following these tips, you’ll increase your chances of landing that coveted spot at the table.
Now, Let’s look at what some people who actually have, or have had, board seats and study their advice on How to Get a Board Seat. Always good to learn from someone who has been there done that.
(Fun Story) This is how I got a board seat BOD for a public company. I was interviewing for the CFO for the company. They sent me to a shrink for some role playing. After some role playing I asked the shrink what was going on (it was pure chaos) and he told me that was what an operation meeting was like at ____ company.
My response was they did not need a new CFO they needed a new CEO.
Now this was despite my liking the CEO and really liking the business. I had also given the CEO some advice during our meeting which he did not like. I basically took myself out of the running for the CFO job.
A little while later I was recontacted by the CEO.
The Board was attempting to oust him even though he had supervoting rights and controlled the company. He also said my previous advice was correct. I joined his board and started a turn around.
2nd Board Seat I got for a friend. I was consulting for a company and recruited a number of people in finance and accounting positions as part of my consulting task. They told me they needed an outside board member because they were getting ready to go public.
I introduced them to someone I knew who had a very successful record as CFO for public companies. He had the industrial experience they were looking for so they put him on the board and it was very successful.
In summary the CEO is generally going to put people on the board who he knows and can trust that they will have his back. In many cases they need to have industrial experience in areas which are needed; however, in current times they might hire to diversify the board and management team.
I no longer sit on any boards, but have done so historically. I sat on several Boards of a Family office, the last of which was a Printing Company based in Ohio. I learned a great deal from that experience and I made me a better investment banker.
I saw the inside of the board room as we transformed the company from founder-owned to professionally managed. We finally sold it to ____ Corporation. The experience left me the better understanding of what sellers go through.
How I got a board seat at a technology start-up on the early 2000’s. I had work with the founding management team (sold several businesses for a company where they worked) and when they decided to start this new venture they asked me to be involved as an investor and to also lend my experience with public companies. Their goal was to take it public.
This experience exposed me to many very active early-stage investors (with which I had no previous involvement) including several early Microsoft employees. Although we never took the company public (filed confidentially and had engaged Morgan Stanley and Goldman as joint book-runners), the experience gave me a great understanding of how early stage investors think and contribute to the success of start-ups.
Last, I sat on the board of an industrial technology company that designed, manufactured, and installed training systems for ________ globally. I was asked to join this board by the founder- Chairman as he and I were business acquaintances. I was asked to chair the Audit Committee which was a daunting task to say the least.
Joe: How to Get a Board Seat, Pretty much like everyone. I knew someone who recommended me was the first Board seat, I met a fellow Board member who asked me to join his Board is the one trajectory.
Second was two CEO’s I worked for added me to their Boards at successive companies, and one recommended me for one of my current Boards
Third was a President I hired at one company became Chairman at a company, and he asked me to join his board. It’s all about skills, but more importantly, relationships – Takes the risk of a bad “hire” off the table…. I know what I get with you. (Factor)
Joe-Thanks for asking. I have sat on a variety of boards. The non-profit volunteer boards have often been the most fulfilling. I generally have been asked to be part of non-profit boards based on my volunteer work with specific institutions.
I spent several years on those boards. I currently sit on the board for the company I work for. I was asked to be corporate secretary first, and after many years being in the meetings as secretary, I was finally offered a board seat by the chairman after our CEO recommended me.
I am also a board member for a related company to my employer, I was asked to be a board member after proving myself as Corporate Secretary for that entity as well.
Ultimately all the board seats I have held (both paid and volunteer) were offered to me by others who saw and appreciated my work, my vocal opinions and my unique perspective to problem solving.
RE: How to Get a Board Seat with a not-for-profit social services agency (formal title: Board Advisor, function as non-voting board member AND consultant) through two routes:
lifetime acquaintance with the President/Founder/CEO (have known her since middle school) AND prior body of experience.
My history story and lessons and how to Get a Board Seat, that been very clear: the path is essentially identical to finding standard employment. You network like crazy, make sure people involved with decisions know you are looking and valuable, and respond to a carefully curated set of open opportunities.
Others have recommended getting experience on non-profit Boards as a good path. I have many years on non-profit Boards, really just to soothe my desire to contribute to the community. While those Boards sometimes help with networking, I find they help very little in the search for a corporate Board role.
That may sound entirely obvious, but my experience is that few people put in the effort. That results in a smaller number of people on many Boards, probably over-committed, that have natural networking from their current roles. (CFOs also have a bit of a leg up given some of the special financial demands particular Board roles require.)
Happy to dig in further if I can be of assistance.
I often volunteer my time and expertise with artistic ventures. Theater and performance ventures that need technical assistance. I often end up as a board member since they need these qualities on their boards!
One merely has to have a servant attitude and be available.
I will write more on this. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked, How do I get a Board Seat…
I hope this was some help for you and let me know where you get a Board Seat!
Joe Pelayo has been recruiting for three decades. For more Articles and other Career Advice, visit Joe Pelayo’s website. josephmichaels.com