Serving as a board director for a for-profit SME is a significant responsibility. It requires a combination of knowledge, expertise, and experience. Board directors are responsible for overseeing the company’s strategic direction, financial performance, risk management, and other key areas, and play an essential role in ensuring the company’s long-term success. If you’re considering pursuing a career as a board director, there are several things to keep in mind.
First and foremost, you need to have a solid understanding of corporate governance and the role of the board of directors.
This includes knowledge of legal and regulatory requirements, as well as best practices for overseeing the company’s management team and ensuring the company is operating in the best interests of its shareholders. But knowledge alone is not enough to qualify you for a board director role.
You also need to have relevant experience and expertise that demonstrate your ability to provide effective governance and leadership. This might include experience in strategy, finance, or operations, as well as a track record of success in driving growth, managing risk, and leading teams.
One way to demonstrate your knowledge, expertise, and experience in corporate governance and leadership is to earn a board director designation.
There are several designations available in Canada and the United States, including the Chartered Director (C.Dir), Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.D), NACD Directorship Certification (NACD), and Board Leadership Fellow (BLF), among others.
While earning a board director designation can be a valuable way to demonstrate your qualifications, it’s important to note that these designations are not always required or essential for serving on a board of directors. Many successful directors have gained their experience through other means, such as education, work experience, or mentorship.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a board director, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of success.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Gain relevant experience: To qualify for a board director role, you need to have relevant experience that demonstrates your ability to provide effective governance and leadership. This might include experience in finance, operations, marketing, or another relevant field, as well as a track record of success in driving growth, managing risk, and leading teams.
- Pursue board director designations: While not always required, board director designations can be a valuable way to demonstrate your knowledge, expertise, and commitment to ongoing professional development. Research the different designations available and choose one that aligns with your goals and interests.
- Build your network: Building relationships with other board directors, executives, and industry experts can help you gain valuable insights and stay up-to-date on best practices and emerging trends in corporate governance.
- Be prepared to put in the work: Serving as a board director is a significant responsibility that requires a significant time commitment and a willingness to engage in ongoing learning and development. Be prepared to invest the time and energy necessary to succeed in this role.
In addition to the knowledge, expertise, and experience required to serve as a board director, there is one more defining characteristic that should not be overlooked: personal qualities.
Board directors must act with the highest level of integrity, and prioritize the long-term interests of the company and its stakeholders over their own personal gain. This requires a deep commitment to transparency, honesty, and ethical decision-making, as well as the courage to speak up and take action when necessary. By embodying these values, board directors can help build a culture of trust, accountability, and responsible governance, and contribute to the long-term success of the company.
Main image by Benjamin Child via unsplash