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Seven reasons why a board role can boost your career

The chief executive of Women on Boards UK recently told ICAEW members about the seven ways in which early board roles can boost careers. Julia Root-Gutteridge, ICAEW’s Board Effectiveness manager, reports.


November 2019

There is a lot of focus on how to get non-executive director (NED) positions on corporate boards, but many professionals do not realise the value of laying the groundwork for success at this level much earlier in their careers.

Fiona Hathorn, CEO of Women on Boards UK, recently spoke to ICAEW members to set out seven ways in which early board roles can benefit your career:

1. Set yourself apart in a competitive market

A board, committee, trustee or governor position sets you apart, whether from colleagues vying for a promotion or from the pool of candidates applying for a new role. When employers are making a final decision between candidates with similar skills and experience, a board role will give you a point of difference and help you stand out. 

2. Build skills while in the same role

Your executive career may not be moving as fast as you would like, yet you may have good reasons to stay and not pursue opportunities elsewhere. Getting a board role outside of work will give you a new perspective while remaining in your current position, and build networks and knowledge outside of your day job.

3. Gain new industry knowledge

A board role in a different sector broadens your current knowledge base and exposes you to the intellectual challenge of thinking through an entirely new set of issues. You will learn about new trends and are likely to take back ideas and knowledge that can help you in your current role. 

4. Get noticed as a leader

These positions show that you are engaged in your community and networks at a leadership level. Even if that leadership role in your main career isn’t in hand yet, board experience will show that you’ve got the skills and emotional intelligence to make a success of it when the opportunity arises.

5. Build career resilience

Joining a board will enrich your network with a group of people you may never have met otherwise. These relationships could be enormously useful to you if you need to navigate through a career change, whether as a result of redundancy, relocation or simply a desire to explore another sector.

6. Develop CV continuity when on a career break

Family or other life demands can often lead to a career break – but that doesn’t mean that everything comes to a halt. A board role can allow you to keep your skills sharp, maintain a network and keep your hand in the world of the workplace. It can also help you to shore up your confidence and give you something to talk about in interviews when you return to work. 

7. Explore if you actually like it

Board roles aren’t right for everyone. Some do not thrive on the information overload from board packs, politics, and the demands of time management. Testing out a position now will help you to identify if you enjoy this kind of work and could enable you to avoid wasting time later.

It's never too early to start getting board, committee, trustee or governor experience – don’t leave it until later. There is a board role for everyone, regardless of their seniority, sector or skillset.

Julia Root-Gutteridge is ICAEW Board Effectiveness manager, and can be contacted at Julia.root-gutteridge@icaew.com

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