Are You Diversifying Your Board Portfolio?

Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Co-founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

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. Consider the Evolution of Your Board Journey

In evaluating the evolution of your board journey, you may think about the size and stage of the boards you serve on. For example, if you join the board of an emerging company, the director’s role is often weighted to a value-add role and more hands-on. As the company matures, the role may become more weighted to an oversight role. To better understand your role on a board, please refer to my previous blog post here.

With that said, it is important to understand consider the time commitment required for each board you serve on. Each board you serve on will go through different stages as a company. These 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 for each board you serve on.

In being aware of the stages a company goes through, it is important to consider that each board you serve on will be faced with different governance issues during your tenure that will add to your board governance experience. Some governance issues that you might face as a board member include: CEO succession/development, M&A transaction, IPO, major investments, disruption in the industry.

Each stage a board cycles through may present a new or different pace at which they work, depending on what issues the company faces. As a colleague of mine, Tamara Paton, a serving Corporate Director states:  “Even the pace of change facing an organization can give us fresh insight into how organizations work, how to motivate and compensate executives, and how to anticipate disruption.”

As your board journey matures, consider taking on governance leadership roles. As you evolve in your governance experience, you may consider stepping up in leadership roles as a Chair of respective committees you serve on. As a Chair, you learn to: i) generate dialogue among your board colleagues, and ii) facilitate the committee to make informed decisions. Both experiences prove invaluable in advancing your skills as a member on a board and in diversifying your board experience.

  1. Consider Going Outside Your Comfort Zone

When looking to go outside of your comfort zone, ask yourself the following questions:

Have you thought about diversifying your board portfolio by joining boards that are in new industries or sectors? While joining a board in a new industry or sector may present some level of risk, it may also offer an exciting opportunity to expand your skillset. For example, I joined a Canadian Medical cannabis company board that recently went public (see: MedReleaf, TSX-LEAF: https://medreleaf.com). I was initially considered for this board because of my financial expertise, public company, retail/consumer and regulated industry experience. For me, joining MedReleaf offered an opportunity to take learnings from other industries and apply them to the newly emerging cannabis industry.

Have you considered joining a new committee?  I am typically asked to join an Audit Committee because of my financial expertise. However, sometimes it is valuable to venture outside your comfort zone and serve on a committee that will present a steep learning curve. You may bring different perspectives and new ways of looking at governance/business matters the board is facing and prove to be an asset to the committee. Branching out and joining a new committee may open the doors to other opportunities. For example, sometimes a Special Committee (SC), – comprised of independent board members is formed to address unique issues facing the company. The SC issues may include: CEO search, a significant transaction or a special investigation. Such experiences provide unique and challenging learning opportunities where you will learn new skills which you can apply to boards you are already serving on.

When is the last time you took risks or challenged yourself regarding your board portfolio?

When you join a new board or committee, you are provided the opportunity to meet new people outside of your current network. I have joined boards where I was the “outsider” to the existing board and had to “earn trust and credibility” of my board colleagues. It takes time and you need to show up, be prepared, listen and ask questions. While intimidating at first, expanding your network provides the opportunity to learn from others with different industry experience.

  1. Other Issues to Consider When Diversifying Your Board Portfolio

Of vital importance for consideration when taking on new board opportunities is the corporate calendar and the fiscal year-ends. If you have several corporate boards with a fiscal year-end of December 31st, you may experience conflicting demands in regards to your time and schedule. As many of us know, fiscal year-end presents a demanding financial reporting period.

Of final consideration when looking to diversify your board portfolio is board compensation. As a Corporate Director, your board compensation can vary depending on the size and stage of the company you are serving as a board member. There are some good references on board compensation that can be found here: “Canadian Spencer Stuart Board Index 2016 – Board Trends and Practices of Leading Canadian Companies”

When you are thinking about diversifying your board portfolio, the type of board compensation is a consideration. Are you prepared to receive 100% equity based in the form of Deferred Share Units (DSUs) or a mix of cash and equity?  Your board compensation may also depend on the committees you serve on and whether you chair the board or a committee.

As you consider new board opportunities, it is important to consider diversifying one’s board portfolio, otherwise why join a new board?

The Value of Public Sector Board Appointments

Written by:
Audrey Wubbenhorst, MA, MBA
Business Professor, Board Director

Early in my career, I had the privilege of working with a very senior leader at a major financial institution.  At the time, she had significant board experience and was Chair of a large Canadian university.  I was working with her on Communications and travelled with her to listen to her speeches and media interviews.  Over and over again, she would be asked about her career and she spoke candidly about the value that board service brought to her career.

At the time, I started looking into serving on a board.  Altruvest had an online learning program which I completed.  They also had a live database of postings.  I applied to serve on the board of a women’s shelter.  I was interviewed for the role by a panel and was successful.  I worked with that organization for two terms (about six years) and saw them open a new, larger, accessible building.  I had the opportunity to work with all levels of government and contribute to major organizational changes.  I also made some lifelong friends.  It was time well spent.

I took a break from board service for a few years when my son was born but I kept my eye out for openings.  In 2011, Toronto Community Housing was looking for a number of board members.  I applied online without any connection to the organization.  After another panel interview, I was appointed to the board – my first public appointment.  I later was successful in being appointed to the Central LHIN and Build Toronto.  These crown agencies are unique in that they are complex, highly visible and play important roles in our cities and provinces.  Overall they are excellent experiences for developing business acumen, leadership and strategic thinking.

Now I teach a number of courses and have been fortunate to work with students interested in careers in all kinds of fields.  I advise them to get started on their board careers early.  They have so much to offer and have the gift of time to commit and learn.

If you are interested in public appointments, you can find them here:

You can also join Women Get on Board as a member https://womengetonboard.ca and you will receive regular email blasts with board opportunity postings. I will be facilitating a session that will be hosted by Women Get On Board on September 21st,  on “How to Get Appointed to a Public Sector Board” – to register, click here: http://bit.ly/WSSep212017

How to be an effective director: the role of director education

Women Get On Board event presented by The Directors College on November 9, 2016

Many will agree that a board of directors is much more than the sum of its parts. One of the most impactful factors in overall board effectiveness is ensuring that skills, expertise and personal attributes of individuals on the board meet the needs identified in the board skills matrix. Dr. Michael Hartmann, Principal of The Directors College, noted this as he moderated an insightful conversation with our panel of governance professionals consisting of Lynn Beauregard and Anna Paluzzi, C.Dir.

From left to right: Dr. Michael Hartmann, Anna Paluzzi, C.Dir., and Lynn Beauregard, President, Governance Professionals of Canada (GPC).
From left to right: Dr. Michael Hartmann, Anna Paluzzi, C.Dir., and Lynn Beauregard, President, Governance Professionals of Canada (GPC).

The panel explored how to be an effective director through the value of continued governance education, how to apply the lessons learned through formal education to real board experience and ultimately, how to evolve into an impactful and effective member of the board.

Value of taking formal board education:

I cant put a price on the networking and the relationships that extend beyond the course.
~ Anna Paluzzi, C.Dir – 2015 graduate of The Directors College

  1. Foundational information covering everything board related.
  2. Personal growth through conversations with peers with varied values, opinions, and ideas. As a board member, one requires the consideration and patience to ‘group think’.
  3. Expansion of professional network through dialogue and learning from one another.
  4. Everything learned and experienced through formal governance education is applicable to directors. You refer to the foundational information to help with the structure and processes of the board to be more impactful.

Drivers behind individuals taking formal education, Dr. Michael Hartmann, Principal of The Directors College:

  1. Knowledge: overall knowledge and thorough understanding of board responsibilities and dynamics provides confidence and certainty.
  2. Behaviour: by taking formal governance courses, students found it was a time of self-reflection, diversity of thought, and openness to altering pre-conceived views.
  3. Best governance practices and formal accreditation.

Accreditations show that you have the knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals and also embeds you in a valuable network. As a director, you need to think about where the gap is that you can help to close? Where do you have gaps that need to be developed? That may be quite focused versus formal education, that’s more holistic.
~ Dr. Michael Hartmann

What current or emerging topics do boards need to be better educated on?

Management needs to give enough information regarding its challenges in a manner thats understandable by all (no acronyms!). This is because board members are expected to make decision based on that information. That said, board needs to also ask questions.
~ Anna Paluzzi, C.Dir.

Orientation:

  • Interactive moments that create a dialog between the directors.
  • Individual training to facilitate a conversation regarding organizational risks.

Risk management:

  • What are you going to do to manage risk? What if the unexpected happens? As a board member you need to be prepared and trained to take on challenges.

Technology:

  • Understand and identify the gaps the organization has.
  • It’s about the context first, and the necessary technology second. What is the value the technology brings to the organization? How will technology help the organization fill the gaps?

Engagement:

  • Learn from the ground up what the organization is about, the decision you need to make and the challenges you need to solve. Engage with the organization’s community and stakeholders to understand the value of your decisions.

Key areas of focus:

  • Ensure inclusivity, appropriate orientation and fact finding for existing and new board members.
  • Identify gaps and information the board does not have.
  • Consider the unexpected and look to other industries and disruptions that occurred.
  • Learn from the ground up to understand the decisions the board needs to make, the challenges it needs to solve and the impact of such decisions on the community and the stakeholders.

What behaviours do board members exemplify to solve complex situations? How did you develop your own knowledge and skills as a director?

Youre only as good as the information, education and the support that you receive from the board members and senior leadership. Step outside of group-thinkbecause diversity of opinion adds significant value to the board.
~ Lynn Beauregard, President, Governance Professionals of Canada (GPC)

Key takeaways:

  • No egos or authoritarian approach to leading.
  • Step outside of personal viewpoints and be open to changing your perspective.
  • Ask questions that challenge.

What do formal board educators need to focus on?

Status quo doesnt work. The face of the boards is changing and educators need to refresh and bring the most up to date information [to its members and students].
~ Lynn Beauregard, President, Governance Professionals of Canada (GPC)

Key topics of focus:

  1. Innovation and diversity.
  2. Digital technology and digital disruption.
  3. Cyber risk.

How to manage change and how to be innovative. What trends are impacting TSX listed companies and how are other industries changing?
~ Anna Paluzzi, C.Dir.

What would you say to an aspiring director regarding taking formal governance education certification program?

The best way to get on a board, is to get on a board!
~ Lynn Beauregard, President, Governance Professionals of Canada (GPC)

Find organizations that are hungry for your expertise. Join a board of a smaller organization to get the confidence and experience, and then consider formal education.

Key takeaways:

  • Get on a board first.
  • Consider your aspirations.
  • Consider getting formal board accreditation once you’ve experienced being a board member.
  • Formal governance education is a big time commitment.
  • Sign up to Boardmatch to find opportunities.

What are your aspirations, where are you going with this, do you have the time to do this? Education should depend on what your aspirations are. But, I would highly recommend it. There is no downside. It help me become a much more effective director and share that information with the board.
~ Anna Paluzzi, C.Dir.

Whats the difference between being an effective board member and being an effective senior executive?

Nose in, fingers out but not mouth shut.
~ Lynn Beauregard, President, Governance Professionals of Canada (GPC)

The hats are very different between the board and management. As a board member, you’re there to provide guidance. You’re the visionary. You’re helping with the decisions, approving the direction but aren’t making those decision, that’s the job of senior leadership. A board should be more strategic in the thought process as opposed to operational.

If you’d interested about learning how to enhance your board experience and skills, read our “Top 3 Tips for Building a Board Profile”.

Conclusion:

Given a board’s critical role in being effective, it is important that each director ensures they devote time to ongoing education.

If you are interested in getting board ready, consider registering for a Women Get On Board workshop ‘How to get yourself on a Board on Wednesday, December 7, 2016. For additional information and to register for the workshop, please click here.

How to be an effective director’ derived from the Women Get On Board event held on November 9, 2016 was conceptualized, written and formatted by Nat Korol, partner at Hyphen Co., that partners with organizations to help navigate and implement the right marketing and design solutions to realize your business objectives.

 

How to Prepare for Corporate Board Roles

 

photo credit: alexisjordanlewis Board room via photopin (license)
photo credit: alexisjordanlewis

Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Co-founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

The first step in getting prepared to lead and serve on a corporate board is to make a plan. As, I’ve written about before, getting board-ready is a journey. A journey where you need to be realistic in your skills, experience and value that you bring to a corporate board while acknowledging that there are lots of qualified corporate directors looking for corporate board opportunities.

I’m often asked how to begin a corporate board journey. And my best advice is to ask yourself these 10 questions to help you prepare yourself to lead and serve on a corporate board:

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.?

To help you begin your board journey, Women Get On Board has two upcoming workshops; “How to prepare yourself for Board roles” on November 2, 2016 and “How to get yourself on a Board” on December 7, 2016.

Hope you can join us!

How to Build Your Board Resume

Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Co-founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

We would like to thank our Event Partner, Stanton Chase Toronto with Managing Partners Cathy Logue and Joanne  Elek for their support of  our April 6th Roundtable Event “How to Build Your Board Resume.” We also appreciate the participation of our moderator Kelly McDougald and our panellists Lisa Melchior and Tom Muir.

Building a Board Resume is a journey that involves many stages. It’s a continuous process of showcasing yourself as a board candidate through documentation, networking and interviews.

The concept of “wisdom trumps knowledge” and how this can add value to a Board

Even those who have deep experience and functional knowledge don’t always have all the answers. Wisdom is a combination of knowledge, judgment, and experience — all important components that go into good decision-making.

Some people feel that if they don’t have a CPA designation they don’t add value, but that’s not the case. Each board member has different things to contribute, and brings a unique perspective and experience. Sometimes, the most effective people to contribute to discussion and debate are those with the least subject knowledge because they can be objective.

The importance of being “multi-dimensional” for a potential board opportunity

During an interview, will you will be asked about your area of expertise and to demonstrate how much depth you have in your area of specialty. Over the course of your career it’s important to become an expert on something because it will increase your unique value. Board members will see not just how much knowledge you have, but more importantly, how you reflected on it and spent time applying that knowledge. They will look for your examples of how you handled decision-making in a stressful or difficult situation. Give them scenarios of how you worked through a very complex problem and produced great results. It’s about demonstrating where you lean-in and take leadership roles on committees and sub committees. Don’t be afraid to talk about your experiences.

The difference between a career resume and a board resume

A career resume highlights the roles and accomplishments you have achieved as a professional. A board resume showcases your unique value proposition and what skills/expertise and industry knowledge you bring to a board. You should demonstrate the governance leadership roles you have taken in the boards you have served on, i.e. what committees you have chaired, and highlight your board journey with the various boards you have served on.

Do you need governance education to serve on a board?

A common question among individuals embarking on a board career is whether or not they need to have a formal governance certification or designation (C.Dir or ICD.D). While it provides a valuable base to prepare you for board roles, it is not always a requirement. Your skills/expertise and board governance experience along with your industry knowledge are what boards look for first.

Three Tips on how to enhance your board experience & skills

  1. Demonstrate leadership by joining a committee, and demonstrating your strengths and skills. Try to get on committees and chair committees that are away from your functional area. For example, if you are in finance, try HR or a quality committee to broaden your scope and experience.
  2. Find a topic that you are passionate about and you will engage people in a more meaningful way. You can increase your engagement by going to workshops and seminars where you can connect with others in the same niche.
  3. Stay current with industry trends by reading articles and director’s journals on change management and organizational development. Keep yourself well versed on new management techniques, as it gives you the ability to engage and understand current events and trends.

 

Top 5 Tips to Help You Become Financially Literate to Serve on a Corporate Board

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Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Co-founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

Every Board member has a financial oversight role. Even if you don’t have financial expertise, you are still expected to have a level of financial literacy. This means that you need to have an understanding of the fundamental concepts, conventions and principles underlying financial statements.

Top 5 tips to help you become financially literate for corporate boards:

  1. Develop a plan and begin the work. Begin by reviewing the annual filings of TSX listed companies that you are interested in.
  2. Look for a mentor or someone who has financial expertise. Ask someone you know that has financial expertise if you can spend time with them over the next year to help you understand financials.
  3. Do your financial due diligence before joining corporate board. Review the annual audited financial statements, quarterly financials, Management, Discussion & Analysis (MD&A) and forecasts/budgets to understand the company’s financial position.
    Ask yourself with the following questions:
    ~Is the company solvent?
    ~Are they complying with their loan covenants?
    ~What is the company’s shareholdings structure, are there Related Party Transactions, what are the outstanding commitments?
    ~What is the status of their tax and other filing requirements?
    ~Did they receive a clean audit opinion? If not, why and is there a “going concern” note disclosure?
  4. Understand the basic financial concepts/principles and the various financial statements. CPA Canada has great document you can refer to: https://www.cpacanada.ca/en/business-and-accounting-resources/financial-and-non-financial-reporting/international-financial-reporting-standards-ifrs/publications/reading-financial-statements-what-do-i-need-to-know-faq
  5. Understand the role of the board, of management and of the auditors in the financial reporting of a Corporation.

Getting financially literate takes time, focus and commitment.

Interested in Becoming Financially Literate? Registration is still open for Women Get On Board’s ‘Understanding Financials for Corporate Boards’ Workshop: http://bit.ly/UFWorkshop2Apr20

Don’t miss a chance to win a Free Board Planning Consultation from Women Get On Board!
Sign up for our mailing list, refer a new member, or become a Women Get On Board member before April 30th, 2016, and be entered automatically into a draw for the chance to win a free Board Planning consultation – a $500 value. Visit www.womengetonboard.ca to sign up, refer or become a member by April 30th, 2016!

 

 

Top 3 Tips for Building Your Board Profile

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Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Co-founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

Getting started on your board journey includes building a board profile. So, how does one go about it?  It starts with asking yourself what your value proposition is, and what unique skills and experience you bring to a board.

Here are my 3 tips for helping you build your board profile:

1. Define your unique value proposition

Boards are made up of a diversity of thought with members bringing different culture, experience, gender, ethnicity, age and geographic representation. So, what is it that you can bring to an already diverse board? What is your unique board value proposition?

Think of it like an “elevator pitch” where you have 10 seconds to tell someone what you bring to a board. In my case, I say that I have entrepreneurial and financial expertise with high growth and transformational companies in the technology, retail and consumer sectors.

2. Be true to what you passionate about

You need to pursue organizations that deal with what you are interested in or passionate about. For myself, I am passionate about dance. When I was asked to join Canada’s National Ballet School’s (NBS) Board, they asked me why was I interested in NBS, and I replied, “I always wanted to be a ballet dancer.”

Think about companies outside of your industry experience. It can be very rewarding to leverage your skills in a new industry with a whole new network and community to engage with. After spending over 20 years in the technology industry, I was asked to join a retail board, which made me excited because I love to shop. But, I am also a Canadian consumer so I understood that I could bring that perspective to the Board.

Get involved in your Alma Mater. Begin by serving on committees or councils to reconnect with your university and go back on campus. I started getting involved with Brock University by serving on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Goodman School of Business, then on the President’s Advisory Council and was then asked to join the Board of Trustees.

3. Research the companies or industries that you are interested in

Review their values, mission and strategy. Do they align with your own skills, experiences and values? Will you add value?

I always evaluate Board opportunities in three ways:

  1. How can I add value?
  2. Do I have a personal statement of the attributes I can bring to the board?
  3. How can I use my network to make meaningful connections to grow the business?

Building your Board profile is an ongoing process that takes time and takes focus. Good luck!

Interested in Getting Board-Ready? Registration is still open for Women Get On Board’s ‘How to get yourself on a Board’ workshop on March 30th:  http://bit.ly/March30Workshop

Don’t miss a chance to win a Free Board Planning Consultation from Women Get On Board!
Sign up for our mailing list, refer a new member, or become a Women Get On Board member before April 30th, 2016, and be entered automatically into a draw for the chance to win a free Board Planning consultation – a $500 value. Visit www.womengetonboard.ca to sign up, refer or become a member by April 30th, 2016!

Preparing for a Board Interview

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Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Co-founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

You have been asked to a board interview. Congratulations!  Now that you have landed the interview what do you need to do to prepare? A board interview is similar to job interview in that you want to put your best foot forward. Where board interviews differ is the preparation from a governance point of view rather than from a management viewpoint.

Top ten tips to help you prepare for a board interview

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Like a job interview, you want to come prepared to your
    board interview. Make sure you know what members of the Board you will be meeting with. Know their background, experience and skills. Find out who the independent board members are and what the ratio of executive to non-executive members is.
  2. Gain a strategic understanding of the company. What are the opportunities and challenges that the company is facing? Is the company going through transformational changes, or high-growth through acquisitions?
  3. Research, research, research. Do your due diligence. Go on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) and read the company’s latest annual report, annual proxy circular, quarterly filings and press releases. Also check out the company’s social media and what is trending online about the company.
  4. Know your value proposition. What value-add you will bring to the board? For more information see my blog on Preparing Your Board Resume.
  5. Understand conflicts. Ask for their corporate calendar and make sure it doesn’t conflict with your other current boards — also ensure that you have the time to commit to this board. Are there other conflicts that you have to be concerned with like your current employer, financial or related parties?
  6. Understand the culture of the board. Where do you fit in? Look at the current board composition and their board diversity policy. What would it mean for you if you are being considered to be the “first” woman on the board? Ask questions about your fit. Find out how the board works together. Is it collegial? Does the board evaluate its own performance?
  7. What board committees exist? What committee(s) would you be considered to join?
  8. Know your expected contribution. Why did the company identify you as a board director candidate?
  9. Compensation. Review their board compensation in their annual proxy circular. Is there an expectation to purchase shares?  Is the compensation in line with your expectation? How often do they do a board compensation review?
  10. Practice, Practice, Practice.

If you are interested in learning more about preparing for board interviews and building your board profile, please sign up for Women Get On Board’s How to get yourself on a Board workshop on March 30, 2016: http://bit.ly/March30Workshop .

Refer a new member (or become a Women Get On Board member) before or on International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2016, and be entered into a draw for the chance to win one free ticket to a Women Get On Board workshop of your choice – a $300 value. Email connect@womengetonboard.ca to refer someone or join Women Get On Board by March 8th, 2016!

Preparing Your Board Resume

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Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Co-founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

A Board resume is an ongoing, dynamic document. When preparing your Board resume you need to keep it current and keep it fresh. To do this, you need to ask for honest and candid feedback from your own personal advisory board.

Next, you need to decide on whether you will prepare your Board resume on your own or if you will engage a firm to help. Having an outsider’s input can help you hone in on your unique value proposition and help develop what skills you want to highlight. Putting together a Board resume is an important step in any Board journey, and that’s why at Women Get On Board we offer Board resume consultations to our members to help them showcase their Board skills and value proposition.

Preparing your Board resume also requires creativity on your part to really think about what makes you unique and how you stand out from others. As I have mentioned in my previous blog Are You Board-ready?, you have to be mindful that it is a very competitive marketplace. There is an over-supply of qualified corporate directors for a limited supply of available corporate board seats. So, you need to engage your creative mind to think on who you are, what you offer and how you’re going to go to market to let others know that you are looking for a board opportunity in a particular industry/sector and how you can add value.

Your Board resume should be no more two pages. It is a summary of your skills to a Board and highlights 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 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 you for 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.

Preparing your Board resume takes time, creativity, feedback and continuous updating. Good luck!

Please save the dates for our 2016 Getting Board-ready workshops: http://womengetonboard.ca/workshops/

The purpose of the Getting Board-ready workshop series is to help women gain insights and learn about the skills they need to prepare for board opportunities. These half-day workshops will be facilitated by Corporate Directors and governance experts who will provide practical experience to empower women with tools to enhance confidence and courage to lead and serve on boards.

Building Your Board Profile

Board Profile

Written by:
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D
Corporate Director, Co-founder & CEO, Women Get On Board

Getting started on your board journey includes building a board profile. So, how does one go about it?  It starts with asking yourself what your value proposition is, and what unique skills and experience you bring to a board.

(Learn more about How to prepare yourself for Board roles with Women Get On Board’s Getting Board-ready workshops!)

What is your unique value proposition?

Boards are made up of a diversity of thought with members bringing different culture, experience, gender, ethnicity, age and geographic representation. So, what is it that you can bring to an already diverse board? What is your unique board value proposition?

Think of it like an “elevator pitch” where you have 10 seconds to tell someone what you bring to a board. In my case, I say that I have entrepreneurial and financial expertise with high growth and transformational companies in the technology, retail and consumer sectors.

What are you passionate about?

You need to pursue organizations that deal with what you are interested in or passionate about. For myself, I am passionate about dance. When I was asked to join Canada’s National Ballet School’s (NBS) Board, they asked me why was I interested in NBS, and I replied, “I always wanted to be a ballet dancer.”

Think about companies outside of your industry experience. It can be very rewarding to leverage your skills in a new industry with a whole new network and community to engage with. After spending over 20 years in the technology industry, I was asked to join a retail board, which made me excited because I love to shop. But, I am also a Canadian consumer so I understood that I could bring that perspective to the Board.

Get involved in your Alma Mater.  Begin by serving on committees or councils to reconnect with your university and go back on campus. I started getting involved with Brock University by serving on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Goodman School of Business, then on the President’s Advisory Council and was then asked to join the Board of Trustees.

Research the companies or industries that you are interested in.

Review their values, mission and strategy.  Do they align with your own skills, experiences and values? Will you add value?

I always evaluate Board opportunities in three ways:

  1. How can I add value?
  2. Do I have a personal statement of the attributes I can bring to the board?
  3. How can I use my network to make meaningful connections to grow the business?

What is your personal statement?

A personal statement is like your own personal campaign. Recently, I was referred to a board opportunity and in the interview process I was asked to write about why I would make a difference and what makes me unique. So, I wrote my personal statement on what value I would bring to the board; why I was passionate about the business; and how I would bring a diversity of thought from my 30 years of diverse business experience with an open, creative and strategic way of thinking.

How are you connected to the company?

Joining a board is about fit and style, and the Board wants to make sure that your style will fit in. To help them decide, think about your network and how you might be connected to any one of the Board members. This is what I call “network mapping.” Use your network to map how you might be connected to members of the Board — the more connections you have to the Board the more comfort they can get on how you will fit in. Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions!

I shared my most recent board interview process with someone in my network. And without even asking, they made two great introductions for me to help advance my connection to the company. Some people are natural connectors. If you would like some tips, please my “Are you a connector?” blog post.

Building your Board profile is an ongoing process that takes time and takes focus. Good luck!

If you are interested in Getting Board-ready, please sign up for Women Get On Board workshops: http://womengetonboard.ca/workshops/

The purpose of the Getting Board-ready workshop series is to help women gain insights and learn about the skills they need to prepare for board opportunities. These half-day workshops will be facilitated by Corporate Directors, governance and search experts who will provide practical experience to empower women with tools to enhance confidence and courage to lead and serve on boards.