Many business managers and executives reach a point in their career where they have a desire to engage in board work. Here, Martin Aagaard (Director of Executive Services at AS3 Executive) is going to tell you his version of what it takes to get a career in the boardroom.
By Martin Aagaard, Director of Executive Services at AS3 Executive
Let's get this straight right from the start... a board career is not some kind of lucrative retirement position that automatically follows after many years as company director. A board career requires preparation, and it is never too early to start.
As a counsellor for executives who have lost their jobs, I often encounter an expectation that the next step should be a full-time boardroom career. This expectation is usually supported by good intentions, strong arguments and great resumés, but seldom any real knowledge of what the work of the boardroom requires and implies. Therefore, I have compiled a few items of what I believe to be the most important advice and tips for those who are new to the work of the boardroom, both along the way as well as at later stages of one's career.
Your fee must not be your primary motivation
If you imagine that you are going to have a full-time boardroom career and you also want to maintain the equivalent of a director's salary, you must be prepared that this is going to mean a position on more than one board. As a rule, a board position will require you to participate in at least a monthly meeting and that you do things for the company in between. For small and medium-size companies, the board fee is often in the region of DKK 50 – 75,000 a year. Of course, there are big C20 companies that pay significantly more; but not only are they rare, they also require high levels of competency and experience.
You are chosen on the basis of your competencies
The rapid changes and new challenges that face the business community in recent years are reflected in that way boards are put together. For example, increased globalisation, digitalisation and technological development have created a constant need for new skills in the boardroom. There are also certain basic disciplines that every board member should be familiar with, including rules and responsibilities, legalities and economics, but most importantly, proven results from an appropriate executive position.
So to get started, one thing you need to do is to make yourself aware of any “stand-out” professional competencies that you have. As a rule, strategic and managerial competencies are usually the absolute minimum. Further specific competencies may also add value in a particular industry and the challenges that characterise it. You can find help with your work in this area from your counsellor at AS3 Executive.
You need to find out about legality, finance and responsibility. A variety of conferences and board qualifications are available. Have a chat with your counsellor about which course is best for you.
Networking is the shortest route to boardroom positions
There are numerous boards in the Danish business community, both in start-ups and with small and medium-sized companies. On the other hand it is almost impossible to know when and for whom the door to the boardroom will be opened. Most often, positions go unadvertised because boardroom positions (like most other top jobs) are occupied via networking. Therefore, it is important that you activate your networks, hone your Linkedin profile and clarify what competencies you can bring to a potential boardroom. In other words, show what you want and what you can do.
Begin the legwork now
Whether you want to throw yourself into the boardroom now or later, you might as well begin your preparations. Find out about what the job entails. Find out what you want, what you can do and what you want to contribute. Which companies are you aiming towards? What is your motivation? Find out what competencies you lack and need to build up. Reach out to your network and explore your options. Maybe you need to start out pro bono in order to build up experience.
If you are attending a programme at AS3 Executive, let us have a chat about how you can get your foot in the boardroom door.
Call us on 46 94 77 77 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact one of us directly.