The seven reasons why being a director is good for your career

Claire Braund, Founder Women on Boards, April 2012 (updated Rowena Ironside, January 2017)

Adding a board appointment or directorship to your CV is a sure way of drawing attention and validating your capabilities whilst catapulting your career up the ladder of success. There are many benefits to be gained from this career portfolio strategy. The top seven reasons why being a director will benefit your career:

  1.  A directorship will be a point of difference on your CV when applying for a new role.
  2.  It gives you the opportunity to build career and leadership skills that you may not be able to develop in your day job.
  3.  You will grow your market and industry knowledge and networks through exposure to a diverse range of issues from the perspective of a director. 
  4. Joining a board indicates to management and your clients that you are interested and engaged in your community at a leadership level.
  5.  Directorships improve career resilience and provide strategic understanding of workforce dynamics and the challenges of running an organisation.
  6.  If you need to take a career break at any stage, a directorship can give you continuity on your CV.  It will help you maintain professional contacts and could provide you with the confidence to re-enter the workforce more easily after a significant break.
  7. It gives you the chance to explore the idea of a post-executive board career.

Finding a board appointment that suits your interests, skills and geography takes patience, determination and effort. It is important to be clear on the type of role you are looking for and what skills and networks you are able to bring to the table.

Take time to write a board CV and make your aspirations known to those in your personal and professional network. Join an organisation that specialises in helping people achieve their board ambitions. These organisations often list board vacancies, be sure to scan them frequently and apply for roles. Be strategic in your networking and professional development.

If you have little or no board experience, look at smaller not-for-profits or industry and professional association committees and government bodies that select by professional expertise. There are many smaller companies, including FTSE-Iisted, whose boards value having successful SME operators as directors because they understand the challenges of a smaller company.

From the perspective of your "boss", the value to the organisation of letting you take on a board role alongside your executive responsibilities is that it will build your skills, strategic understanding and industry networks. You will gain in confidence as well as experience and therefore be more likely to put your hand up for new challenges.