Why Joining A Board Is
Great For Your Career

Published on February 15, 2017

Many executives say that want to serve on a board because it can benefit their careers, they want to apply their expertise in a different way and they'd like to give back. Perhaps you’ve been asked to serve on a board or are considering a search – be it for an independent corporate board, advisory board or nonprofit board – and you’re enticed by the potential benefits. Since pursuing a board seat requires considerable time and effort, you may ask yourself: is it really worth it? In short, yes! Serving on a board provides the opportunity for professional development and personal growth, which strengthens your personal brand and fuels career advancement.

With a board position, consider that you will:

Strengthen your reputation

When selected to serve on a board, a company entrusts you with a vital, high-impact role and publicly endorses your expertise and governance skills. When you communicate and promote this affiliation, you raise your professional profile among your peers, within your organization and across your industry. By extension, your board affiliation enhances your employer's brand. Taken together, these factors may strengthen your candidacy for a promotion or new role and increase your value in the workplace.

Grow your network

In addition to meeting other board colleagues, a board position provides a wealth of opportunities to meet influential, intelligent and well-connected people. You may engage with a company’s strategic partners, investors, clients and donors, as well as colleagues and leaders across industries. As you become acquainted with new people, cultivate meaningful relationships. These will be important contacts when you’re ready to pursue another board seat or the next step in your career.

Sharpen your skillset

Serving in a board position will enable you to strengthen professional skills, particularly related to:

    • Collaboration: You’ll work with other board members and executives across business and functional areas (some of which may be newer to you). To come to decisions, directors must respectfully listen to differing opinions, collaborate and build consensus.
    • Strategy: Since directors contribute more broadly (vs operationally), you'll be involved in things that strategically impact the company like steering financial health, market competitiveness and succession planning. Any one of these things, and the many other areas you may contribute to, can be a great step up, especially if your experience has been in single functional areas (e.g., finance or marketing).
    • Leadership: In addition to the obvious leadership function as a board member, you may head a committee. This differs from overseeing a team of direct reports or a cross-functional team. If the committee meets remotely, you'll further sharpen remote management and communications skills.
    • Mentorship: You may have the opportunity to coach and mentor members of the organization’s senior management team. If you're a more experienced director, there is a good chance that you'll mentor junior (or new) board colleagues.

These skills will augment your professional wheelhouse and benefit your career advancement in any capacity.

Gain exposure and insight

Board positions provide access to the inner workings of a company, as well as the opportunity to learn about other industries, business strategies and markets from an insider’s perspective. This exposure enhances your marketability and may ignite your drive to take your career to the next level. This will benefit you greatly if you choose to pursue a role in a different industry or make a professional pivot.

Set the stage for future opportunities

Exhibiting solid performance on a board and utilizing your expertise to contribute meaningfully to an organization’s goals will elevate your professional reputation. As your value and visibility within the company and with external stakeholders grows, so will their endorsements of you. These leaders will know the value of working with you firsthand, which may help you when looking for future board roles or employment opportunities – or as those opportunities find you.

Serving on a board provides invaluable opportunities to broaden and sharpen skills, grow your network and gain exposure to new industries and areas of business. In a board position, you'll expand your professional experience, elevate your reputation and strengthen your personal brand -- all key elements to propel career advancement.


Related Resources

Board Director Branding Guide

Branding Services For New and Current Board Directors

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