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How to Get Yourself on a Board: Position Your Board Offer

According to an Osler research report called “2019 Diversity Disclosure Practices: Women in leadership roles at TSX-listed companies”, “Women now hold over 18.1% of board seats among companies disclosing the number of women on their boards, the highest proportion yet and a 50% increase compared to 2015 (when it was 12%).” That’s why Women Get on Board’s mandate it to connect, promote, and empower women to corporate boards.

To help more women on their board journey, I have launched a 4-part blog series called How to Get Yourself on Board. If you read the first post of the series, you’ve mastered board basics. With this foundation, you’re ready for the next step in your board journey.

The second blog in this series is all about how to position your board offer and it will provide practical insights on how to:

1. Assess your board readiness
2. Identify the right board for you
3. Create your board value proposition
4. Build your board resume and LinkedIn profile

1. Assess your board readiness

In order to prepare for your first corporate board seat, it is essential to evaluate your board readiness. However, if you have never served on a board before, it can be difficult to determine if you are board ready or not. For example, many people believe that being a successful executive is the only requirement for being a corporate director, when in fact there are many differences between being an executive and being a corporate director.

Before you prepare your first corporate board seat, ask yourself these 10 board-ready questions:

1. Do you have a minimum of 10 to 15 years of experience in a senior executive role in the public, private, crown or not- for-profit sectors?
2. Are you prepared to commit at least 200 to 300 hours per year to a corporate board role?
3. Do you have the support of your own Board of Directors and/or senior executives to serve on a board?
4. Do you have a formal governance certification or designation (C. Dir or ICD.D) from the Directors College or the Institute of Corporate Directors?
5. Have you ever served on a board, not-for-profit or for profit?
6. Are you a team player that understands the dynamics of boards is one of the
most critical components of good governance?
7. Do you fully understand the role, responsibility and liability of a corporate director?
8. Do you understand the difference between a board of directors role versus a management role?
9. Do you have financial acumen—can you read and understand financial statements?
10.Do you have experience in critical areas in our changing world such as Risk Management, International Markets, M&A, Cyber Security, Digital Media, Big Data, etc.?

2. Identify the right board for you

As I detail in my blog post called “Are You Diversifying Your Board Portfolio?,” I began my board journey without the thought of diversifying my board portfolio. In saying “board portfolio,” I am referring to the various boards you lead and serve on. These boards collectively make up your board portfolio. Analogous to your investment portfolio, you want to be strategic in developing your board portfolio to accurately reflect your risk profile and the stage/age of your career. Just like your investment portfolio, you should monitor and review your board portfolio on a regular basis to ensure you are getting a return on your board portfolio.

When thinking of diversifying your board portfolio, here are three key areas for consideration:

1. Time commitment

It is important to understand the time commitment required for each board you serve on. Each company you are appointed to their board will go through different stageswhich might include: emerging, growth, transformation, downsizing and possibly restructuring. Each stage that a company goes through will require different time commitments, so it is critical to be aware of the amount of time you have available for each board you serve on.

2. Industry and sector

You should consider industries and sectors that you are passionate about and interested in. Have you thought about diversifying your board portfolio by joining boards that are in new industries or sectors? Joining a board in a new industry offers an exciting opportunity to expand your skillset. For example, I joined MedReleaf (TSE-LEAF-acquired by Aurora Cannabis Inc. TSE-ACB) even though cannabis was an industry I have not worked in before. Joining the MedReleaf board offered me the opportunity apply my public company experience as well as my financial and governance expertise to an emerging sector.

3. Compensation

Your board compensation can vary depending on the size and stage of the company you are serving as a board member. You can review board compensation trends here: “Canadian Spencer Stuart Board Index 2019.”

3. Create your board value proposition

Creating your board value proposition is one of the most critical things you will do in your board journey. Well-functioning boards are made up of members with a diversity of skills and experience, culture, gender, ethnicity and age. Your board value proposition is what you bring to the board table and how you differentiate yourself from other board members and other board candidates.

You should be able to articulate your board value proposition in a 30-second-or-less elevator pitch. And you should include specific expertise, skillsets the board currently lacks, and how you are a leader in their industry (or a synergistic industry). Here is my elevator pitch that I have honed over the years:

• “I have entrepreneurial, financial & governance expertise with high growthand transformational companies in technology, retail, consumer and cannabis sectors.”

4. Build your board resume and LinkedIn profile

You have determined that you are board ready, identified your best board fit, and created your board value proposition. The next step is to build a powerful and compelling board resume. As I explain in this blog post called “Preparing Your Board Resume,” building and updating your board resume is a dynamic and ongoing process. In addition, unlike a professional career resume, your board resume is highly targeted toward the board position you are seeking. It is important that your board resume is authentic, illustrates your brand, and shows your unique value proposition.

Your board resume and LinkedIn profile should highlight your:

• Value proposition, i.e. the value add your bring to a Board, your unique offering;
• Skills and expertise;
• Industry-specific knowledge;
• Career accomplishments — highlight your executive and other relevant leadership roles to showcase your understanding of the business, the industry, and the broader macro environment in order to gain the respect and confidence of the current board members;
 Speaking engagements and awards — list areas that you are sought after as an expert or have thought-leadership in and any awards that recognize youfor your accomplishments;
 Current and past board experience — highlight the committees you have served on and the leadership roles that you have taken, e.g. Chair of a Committee or Chair of the Board.

Don’t forget to update your LinkedIn profile with the highlights from your board resume! In today’s digital age, LinkedIn is often where you will make your first impression and its important that your profile paints the picture of your best board self.

Are you ready to learn more about how to get on a board? Consider registering for the upcoming Women Get On Board Getting Board Ready (GBR) Program, delivered in collaboration with LHH Knightsbridge. The GBR Program is designed to empower women on their journey to land their first corporate board seat. The GBR program offers practical and actionable insights in a combination of micro-learning, virtually facilitated discussion by experts, practical homework, and hands-on support. Learn more: https://www.womengetonboard.ca/programs

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