It is important to understand why
you are seeking board positions,
what you can offer a board and
the impact of your choice of boards
on your future career as a director.
While making a good choice can
bring personal satisfaction, enhanced
reputation and financial reward, a bad
one can mean litigation, loss of assets
and a damaged reputation.
Consider your ultimate goal in seeking
directorships and how you can build
towards this goal. Define what sort
of boards you would like involvement
with – the industry, size and revenue
range to which you could bring your
best experience. You can then work
backwards and find companies which
meet these criteria and move you
in your chosen direction.
Before you begin your search,
it may be useful to understand
how directors are currently appointed.
In general, the most common route
is through an executive career leading
to a CEO or similar position. However,
there are also opportunities based
on alternative careers such as law,
accounting, public service and similar.
What are some ways to increase
the opportunities for success?
Build your personal ‘brand’
Today the concept of the personal
brand has become fashionable. In the
same way that organisations build
and carefully nurture the brand of
the products and services they sell,
each person has his or her own brand.
Brands comprise the symbols, design,
name, sound, reputation, emotion,
employees, tone, and much more
that identify and distinguish specific
products and services. Importantly,
the brand is the perception held by
the consumer, or in the case of your
personal brand, the people you are
seeking to influence.
The rise of the internet has made the
concept of managing your personal
brand much more achievable. Prior to the internet, personal brands could be developed and communicated largely
through the traditional mass media such as press articles, radio and television
interviews and similar and by undertaking activities such as publishing books
Today the concept of
the personal brand has
In the same way that
organisations build and
carefully nurture the
brand of the products
and services they sell,
each person has his
or her own brand.
Today, popular web-based social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and
Twitter allow people to promote themselves to a global audience. In addition,
you can commence your own website, publish your own blogs and generally use
the multitude of opportunities made possible by the web to create and publish
facts and information about yourself, and in so doing, create your own brand.
The web, however, is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you can use
it to position yourself and your competencies for board and other positions.
On the other hand, the web enables negative aspects of your brand, either
created by yourself or by others through unfortunate social media posts
and negative reports placed on the internet, to become readily available
through internet searches.
Consequently, thinking about yourself as a ‘brand’ and actively seeking
to manage this brand, is a key component of professional success in the
21st century. It is the starting point to position yourself for a directorship.
Join and attend functions of prominent business organisations such as the
Australian Institute of Company Directors, Business Council of Australia (BCA)
and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) to develop
your business networks and build relationships with decision makers. Make it
known among your contacts that you are seeking board positions. Show interest
in how your contacts found their first board position and ask who else they
know who might be able to help you.
Become involved in the not-for-profit sector
The not-for-profit sector includes advisory boards, industry associations, arts
bodies, clubs, medical research organisations and educational bodies. It is more
likely to seek diversity than the commercial world. The key is to become known
and to develop a track record as a useful board member. In practical terms, this
gives you exposure to how boards work, what works best, what not to do,
as well as extending your professional network.
Often the way to a board position in the not-for-profit sector is through
organisations in which you have an interest and already are an active member.
This may be a sporting club, a community organisation, a disability organisation
whose services you or a family member use and so on. Undertake research
and find out how board members are appointed. Become known in the
organisation, assist in its management if practicable and express your
interest in a board position.
Executive search firms
Write a director’s CV and submit it to
executive search firms. More boards
are turning to these firms to facilitate
a more formal and objective approach
to board appointments and to widen
the pool of potential candidates.
Find a mentor
While contemporary corporate
governance practice rightfully
recommends that boards should use
a wide range of sources to find new
directors with emphasis on matching
the individuals competencies with the
needs of the board, in reality word of
mouth and personal recommendations
by established well-regarded directors
still plays an important role in
Do you have a close contact who
is well established in his or her
director career and who would
be willing to provide mentoring
and advice? Seek this person’s advice
concerning your director career? What
would they advise? Who would they
suggest you meet?
The AICD also offers a service
in this area – Coach and Mentor
Direct – which is discussed
in more detail below.
What are the opportunities provided by the AICD?
The AICD offers its Directorship Opportunities.
This is a customised program to better assist members
looking for directorships and connecting them with
organisations seeking board members. This directorship
search service has been designed to specifically address
the issues of greater visibility and control over finding
new directorships. Directorship Opportunities
is a member-only subscription service.
Whether you are looking to keep up-to-date with the
latest openings on Australia’s private, public and not-forprofit
boards – or to help your organisation find the ideal
candidate to strengthen your governance team –
this service may meet your needs.
Company Director Course
The Company Directors Course (CDC) is recognised
as the definitive program for company directors in
Australia. The course focuses on the responsibilities
of directors in larger organisations. It has the added
advantages of providing networking opportunities for
participants and demonstrating to boards that you take
your duties seriously.
The AICD also offer an extensive suite of specialised
courses on all aspects of governance. Some of these courses
can be taken without completing the CDC, while other are
best taken after completing the CDC. Having a number
of these courses on your CV is yet another sign of your
competence and interest in governance.
In addition, the AICD offers a Director Self-assessment tool
designed assess your current director capabilities and skills
and guide your director professional development.
Coach and Mentor Connect
Whether you are an aspiring or practicing director,
you can enhance your performance and career success
by using the Coach and Mentor Connect,
a complimentary online facility for members. This includes
a qualified list of coaches and mentors selected for their
breadth of commercial experience and highly-regarded
competence across a range of industry sectors, business
complexity and insight that is relevant to both new
and established directors.
These suggestions can assist in creating opportunities, but
there is no guarantee of success with any of these methods.
This document is part of a Director Tools series prepared by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. This series has been designed to provide general background information and as a
starting point for undertaking a board-related activity. It is not designed to replace legal advice or a detailed review of the subject matter. The material in this document does not constitute
legal, accounting or other professional advice. While reasonable care has been taken in its preparation, the Australian Institute of Company Directors does not make any express or implied
representations or warranties as to the completeness, currency, reliability or accuracy of the material in this document. This document should not be used or relied upon as a substitute for
professional advice or as a basis for formulating business decisions. To the extent permitted by law, the Australian Institute of Company Directors excludes all liability for any loss or damage
arising out of the use of the material in this document. Any links to third-party websites are provided for convenience only and do not represent endorsement, sponsorship or approval of those
third parties, or any products and/or services offered by third parties, or any comment on the accuracy or currency of the information included in third party websites. The opinions of those
quoted do not necessarily represent the view of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.