Landing a seat on a board is a goal of many professionals. But in today’s rapidly-changing business climate – one that is embracing new trends and technologies faster then ever before – how does one keep up and truly stand out? Here are my Top 3 Tips for earning a boardroom seat:
1. Technology … excel by embracing change
Technology is being developed in all sectors, whether you recognize it or not. Get to know and understand the creative minds working in this space, and see if you can get involved in some way. This is the demographic that has the potential to “fix” everything and drive innovation. Remember how five years ago we were not talking about self-driving cars in serious terms? Today we are testing them. Get ready to embrace change and learn from tech-savvy leaders.
2. Millennials … bringing a fresh perspective
Don’t count yourself out based on age alone. If you’re a young professional trying to define your skill set for a board, try this two-week exercise: List on Post-it notes all the operational tasks you have accomplished and worked on in your business life. Allow these ideas and tasks to come to you over a period of two weeks. This will help you to define and discuss your operational experience – which is not described on your business card. Boards are always interested in people with operational experience. Review these Post-it notes for a couple weeks, and you will have a different perspective of yourself.
3. Entrepreneurs … the secret weapon
Even if you’re not an entrepreneur, per se, check out a local incubator such as The Forge, McMaster University’s on-campus entrepreneurship initiative. Take some time to learn more about the private equity firms investing in start-ups. It will be an exciting journey, and you’ll be shocked at what you learn about your own sector. Through simply interacting with entrepreneurs and gaining new contacts, you will become a key “knowledge asset” many boards are looking for.
Beverly Topping is the Chair & Founding Partner of Spearfront Partners. She’s an entrepreneur, educator and Chief Executive Officer who creates value and growth. Expertise in designing and implementing operational & financial strategies in high growth & entrepreneurial organizations. Respected leader within the governance community. Background in raising capital and providing solid returns for investors. Experience as a corporate director of public, private, not-for-profit & crown corporations. Innate ability to see and understand operations and the interconnectivity of people and business by being able to relate to stakeholders at all levels.