Are you ready to become a Board director?

7 min read
Feb 13, 2023 10:44:13 AM

What impact will you make in the boardroom?

Do you find yourself often thinking about joining a Board? Are you aware of what training is required for the role? Do you seek opportunities to strengthen your career and personal skills?

These days, the position of Board director is accessible to people from all walks of life. You no longer have to possess years of experience to be successful as a Board director.

Boards are increasingly open to fresh faces and new insight from unique perspectives; this means ample opportunities for those who feel they have what it takes to inject new life into stagnating Board meetings.

In this role, you will get the opportunity to show off your skillset in an elite and rigorous environment.

By delving into myriad issues with your Board members, you will gain insight into key aspects of governance and best practices in the business world, including in technical, tactical and legal issues. You will have a chance to grow your understanding of strategy and practice making informed, valuable growth-based decisions to support your company.

This article covers the following:

  • The factors driving increased Board-based director opportunities for young hires
  • How young professionals play an integral role on Boards
  • Why is there a rise in the rate of next-generation directors
  • How fresh eyes can help businesses navigate tough challenges with new dexterity
  • How diverse background experience and varied skills help in decision-making
  • To pick the right Board role for you, you need to clearly understand your skills and motivations
  • The top-rated skills for Board members at present and how to best prepare for your new role
  • The scoop on director training and why it is valuable


Are you eager to join a Board? Excited to start but worried that you lack the necessary skills or experience? The boardroom is no longer the province of only retired executives and those who have spent their careers climbing the corporate ladder. Rather, Boards are increasingly looking for outside perspectives, seeking the next generation of directors that can lead them toward a bright future with engaged, enthusiastic leadership and open eyes.

  • In general, younger directors are motivated towards Board positions by three factors:
  • Personal and professional growth
  • The interplay between their executive role and the experience they gain as a director
  • Their desire to make a difference

Becoming a Board member gives you the platform to put your expertise into action. You will broaden your understanding of strategy and decision-making through real-world applications, getting the opportunity to workshop and resolve issues with your team.

Many directors find their time on Boards as enriching as their time spent studying for their MBAs.

But the step of joining the Board sphere can be daunting for young professionals. There is a prevalent misconception that Board positions are only accessible to highly-established individuals who make up an exclusive circle of business leaders. This could not be farther from the truth.

Traditional business modes are undergoing vast forms of transformation at present, opening doors to people from all walks of life and expanding the scope of opportunities available.

Young executives bring valuable contributions to the boardroom table, irrespective of their age.

The chance is that there is a Board out there now that is perfectly suited to your input, inspiration, and insight, whether you come from the corporate, established history or are new to the governance world. As added motivation, remember that holding a Board position can positively influence your career

Tomorrow’s leaders will make today’s Boards

Many different factors are driving change to the ways in which we do business and are expanding chances to join Boards. Seizing these opportunities allows you to contribute meaningfully to change within the governance culture, the sector, the organisation, and your local community.

Investors additionally continue to hold Boards accountable to strenuous measures of effectiveness, focusing on renewing members and generating a healthy rate of turnover amongst their team. Overall, the number of young directors is increasing. Experts in major fields such as cybersecurity and AI are amongst them.

The rate of business across industries continues to grow, born along with the increased availability of remote and hybrid-working options.

The boardroom is the centre of business strategy decisions, enabling the team to drive growth and manage risk in their company. Boards need new leaders to help them navigate these transformative times; to tackle the current climate, candidates must be equipped with a variety of skills, experiences and key traits.

What’s in a Board? Ideas

Boards must compile a variety of intellectual resources in order to successfully navigate towards the accomplishment of their goals. Those that are speeding towards the future of the industry are looking to the fresh generation of boardroom leaders to bring new ideas, energy, and network connections to play.

Professionals come to Board positions for a variety of reasons, from a variety of different paths. Holding said position also has a wealth of positive outcomes, including:

  • Enhancing your executive career
  • Broadening your professional network
  • Influencing the direction of your Board’s organisation
  • Opportunities to supplement your income
  • Stock options or equity in startups
  • Social recognition and value from your peers
  • The chance to give back to your community
  • The chance to grow within the role itself and rise to a high-profile position

Be clear about your motivations when it comes to pursuing a Board director position; you will soon have a proper plan outlined and be well on your way to achieving boardroom success.

The best skills for future directors

Board members are vital parts of the companies they serve and often play parts in legal, fiduciary and ethical decisions. In order to make the best choice in regards to what role you pursue on a Board, you need to understand your desire to join one in the first place, as well as the perspective and skills that you bring to the table.

Some of the most looked-for skills in a boardroom are:

Digital finesse – Businesses are digitising at an ever-more-rapid pace. Notable fields of expansion include AI, machine learning and data analytics, as well as cybersecurity, which is necessary for all organisations. If you have a background in any of these areas, Boards need you now.

ESG awareness – Sustainability and company ethics are now moving to the forefront of Board awareness as customers become increasingly invested in supporting organisations that share their values and protect our planet. Directors with an understanding of these key areas will find ample opportunity to share their knowledge.

Emotional intelligence – Practising active listening and engaging with your teammates in an empathetic, genuine manner will help you succeed in the Board environment and show your peers that you truly value their insight.

Governance skills – Corporate governance is a learned skill, not an innate personality trait. If a Board or director lacks a thorough understanding of governance, they can waste hours of valuable time – as well as resources – getting lost in operational issues rather than focusing on strategic moves.

If a Board wanders into the time-wasting vacuum of operational detail, it can quickly become ineffective, leading to feelings of frustration and lack of focus amongst the team. A director must possess a mixture of hard and soft skills to successfully steer the other Board members, focusing on company goals rather than stroking their ego. An ideal director is resourceful, flexible, and driven, with a strong sense of strategic vision and a sincere leadership style that allows them to lead their people and their business in a meaningful way.

Choosing your position

When you are deciding which position to pursue when joining a Board, it is ideal to find one that aligns with your personal values, abilities and attributes.

One way to determine if a position is a right fit for you is to make a list of the options available to you and come up with a concrete plan for achieving those opportunities. This can help you judge your options with an open mind and an objective eye, letting you pick the one you most enjoy.

Be sure to consider the following questions when evaluating your Board leadership options:

  1. How is the business structured? Am I familiar with this business model? Do I know how it succeeds? Am I aware of any inherent risks? Do I understand how the company makes money (and how it may lose it)?
  2. How can I add value to the business?
  3. What would be expected of me in the capacity of director?
  4. How do my values align with those of the Board chair? Is the relationship a supportive and productive one?
  5. Am I joining an effective Board?
  6. What is the relationship between the Board and management? How would I rate their efficiency and cohesion?
  7. How might I add to or influence boardroom discussion?

Boards want directors who add value to the organisation, and directors want opportunities where they may contribute in meaningful ways: there is a way for both parties to be happy, and its roots lie in being prepared.

Opportunities to come

The Board member position is one of constant growth; their work is not confined solely to Board meetings. Rather, members and directors alike should seek out opportunities for continued learning and development.
Board chairs look increasingly frequently to the younger generation for their Board director hires for several reasons, including cutting-edge skills in growing fields and the desire to diversify dialogue around the boardroom table.
Bob Semple, an independent director and member of the Governance Advisory Council of the Corporate Governance Institute with significant experience in the position, says that the key areas young directors should look to expand their knowledge in at present include:

  • ESG
  • Corporate purpose
  • Cyber(tech, security)
  • Third-party risk management
  • Machine learning and AI
  • The digital corporation and workplace transformation
  • Transformative tech (bio-, info-, nano- and cogno- in particular)
  • Data mining
  • EDI
  • Privacy
  • Changes in the financial structure
  • GRI and the new standards bodies, ISSB and GSSB (and integrated reporting)
  • RegTech and FinTech Blockchain
  • Board and workplace culture

As the focus of organisations continues to shift from traditional values to increased employee-focused, values-based practices and digitisation, opportunities for young directors will expand and develop. It is crucial that those looking to enter the industry remain up-to-date on current trends across the sector, establishing themselves in their specialties whilst continuing to keep open minds and approach new challenges with curiosity and desire.


How to get your board onboard and aligned

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