So you're thinking about a Board role. There are more candidates than roles, so applying and gaining a board role is a competitive process. In this article Women on Boards Chair, Ruth Medd, shares her tips on navigating the director landscape and outlines what you need to know before you start your board journey.

 The director landscape

  • Appointments are still often made on the basis of recommendations.  It’s human nature to favour "people we know" or “people     who are recommended by people we know”.
  • Government appointments are advertised, which is a more obviously transparent process.  The benefit is that merit is more likely to result from transparency.

Your marketing challenge

  • Your challenge is to ensure your director aspirations are known.  This takes the obvious form of replying to advertisements (and the associated groundwork) and making your aspirations known less formally.  Not surprisingly, people won’t see you as a potential director unless you tell them; regrettably this is particularly true for females.
  • Check your marketing readiness with the question - “How many people know of my board aspirations?”   If the number is low or zero, there is work to be done!

Understand what is wanted

  • You need to make sure you match your skill set (obvious skills and transferable skills) with the needs identified by the board.  It is imperative that you are clear about what you offer; which is why we encourage you to complete your WOB MyProfile.  It's a sometimes-challenging intellectual exercise to put yourself in the place of the appointer (nominations committee, Chair, other directors) and tell them what they need to hear not what you want to say. 

Starter action items 

Steps to developing a networking and information strategy that brings you to the attention of Chairs:
  • Attend a Getting Started: realising your board potential workshop where you will learn about being on a board and writing a strong board CV and start to grow your network. 
  • Identify three networks (industry association events, alumni events, charitable events) to participate in that will result in new contacts.
  • Complete the WOB MyProfile; particularly the summary, achievements and attributes.  WOB will review your efforts and provide feedback if you are a paid subscriber. 
  • Attend a WOB networking event and stay in touch with the people you meet.
  • Put together a list of six people to tell about your director aspirations.  Select those who would also be useful sounding boards and providers of advice.