Advice for First-Time Board Directors

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Since the passing of the Sarbanes-Oxley law in 2002, and the introduction of gender equality board quotas in certain countries, stricter regulations have been put into place to formalize acquisition of board seats. Now, as many searches for board directors are often handled by executive search professionals, we have put together some useful advice for aspiring board directors.  
How to Become a First-Time Board Director
1. Develop the right professional skills
Having a solid understanding of finance, and at minimum, being able to analyze a standard set of accounts, is vital to those wanting to gain a board seat. For candidates who do not yet possess these skills, now is the time to take advantage of the range of courses that are available both on and offline.  Another key skill that is in high demand is that of social media. Gaining an understanding of this, could help you to become more desirable as a candidate.
2. Know your company’s policy on employees taking on board roles
Some companies have strict codes when it comes to allowing their employees to join boards. Make sure that you have done your research and understand your company’s policy to avoid future complications.
3. Assess what board sector matches your skills and background
As the purpose of any new board director is to add value to the board they serve, take time to discover which area you are most able to offer your unique expertise, your understanding gained from past experiences and your professional skillset.
4. Seek out board experience
Non-profit boards can be a great place to acquire experience and the skills needed for board duties. To make the most of this experience, opt for a seat on the Board of Trustees with fiduciary responsibility, instead of an advisory board. Other good boards to gain experience include private company boards or startups.
5. Make yourself visible
There are several things that aspiring board directors can do to become more visible as candidates. First of all, make sure that those around you are aware of your board ambitions. The more people know about your aspiration, the more likely it is that you will be recommended or referred for consideration. Speaking to work colleagues about this, especially those who are already on boards, can be a great way of gaining further information and support.
To gain a further advice on how to obtain your first board seat, download the podcast recording of our recent BlueSteps webinar, Top Tips for Gaining Your Board Seat, which took place Wednesday, June 18, 2014. To view this recording and the full BlueSteps Podcast Library, Join Bluesteps today!
About BlueSteps
BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 8,000 executive search professionals in more than 75 countries. Be visible, and be considered for over 90,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com.

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Complimentary Webinar Recording: Expert Tips for Finding Your Next Board Seat

This webinar covered:
- How to develop a strategy to get a board seat
- How the board recruitment process actually works
- What are the current challenges and concerns for boards
- What qualities are sought after in a board candidate
- How diversity issues are affecting the board room
- And more...

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About the author

This article was written by Lisa Marsh, Marketing Manager at the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC).

About the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants

Since 1959, the AESC has set the standard for quality and ethics in executive search and leadership consulting worldwide. Because AESC members must commit and adhere to the AESC's industry and government recognized Code of Ethics and Professional Practice Guidelines, clients can be assured that AESC members are able to serve as trusted advisors for their most important engagements. As the voice for executive search and leadership consulting worldwide, today the AESC is comprised of more than 350 member firms, representing 8,000 executive search professionals in 75 countries. To learn more about the AESC and its membership, visit www.aesc.org.

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