Preparing for a Board Role


As an Executive’s career continues to evolve, many seek the opportunity to serve on a Board of Managers or Board of Directors. However, securing an active role on a Board can be challenging, and like most things built across a successful career, the best opportunities belong to those who are prepared for them.

In seeking this type of leadership role, the Executive will need to answer:
• How do I prepare myself as a potential candidate?
• What can I bring to this Board and the Company it serves?
• How do I start a search?

Preparing for a Board candidacy starts with a solid Board Bio, a total inventory of one’s business experiences. List your titles, but more importantly, quantify your achievements. These experiences should be reflected in a resume that is formatted to properly position oneself for a Board candidacy. Consider working with an Executive Coach or Mentor to fine-tune your overall preparedness.

Second, have conversations with Board members you might know; these individuals will be able to advise you on current Board issues that Companies are facing today. These conversations should lead to a better understanding your own value proposition: “what can I, with my specific experiences, bring to a Board role?” The candidate should seek to understand the needs of the Company and to also understand the overall goals of the Company’s investors. In doing so, the candidate will be better able to accentuate his or her real-time experiences that can help the Company. This will also help in accurately communicating these qualifications during the search process.

Boards typically search for a candidate with a specific need that the Board feels can strengthen the Company it serves. For example, if the Company is challenged with re-evaluating its business model, the Board will look for a strong candidate with significant experience in Strategy or Business Development, even a current sitting CEO or COO. The same might be said for a leader in Financial Management or Auditing if the Company is in need of strengthening one of those areas.

Third, start your search by networking. Network with colleagues—present and past. Inform colleagues who may be in the Executive Search profession of your interests. Do the same with Investor colleagues. Dialoguing with as many colleagues or new introductions as possible will be a critical activity and can lead to interesting possibilities. This is another area that a Coach or Mentor can help fine-tune.

Whether you are a current C-Suite or Senior Officer, or a retired Executive, an active role on a for-profit or non-profit Board can prove to be an expansive and rewarding experience.

Written by: Mike N. Cannizzaro

About the Author

Mike N. Cannizzaro
Senior Vice President & Executive Coach, Robertson Lowstuter, Inc.

Michael N. Cannizzaro is an Executive and Career Coach with an accomplished background as a senior executive in the healthcare products and services industry. He has decades of experience in both publicly traded and privately held companies. Mike most recently served as Chairman of the Board of Behavioral Health Group, a Dallas-based portfolio company of the PE firm Frontenac Company. Mike assisted in the pre-acquisition diligence process through successful acquisition. Read Full Bio



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