Open board seats represent potential opportunities for past military leaders. But for many, the question is, “What are my chances? Will I get on a board?” This blog offers encouragement to veterans who seek board seats and challenges boards to go beyond their usual networks to consider military leaders for that next open board seat.

Opportunity Awaits

Every year, most public company boards add at least one new director. The way board hiring trends are going, it won’t be long until two new faces may be the new rule. This opening of the boardroom offers new hope for those hoping to get a board seat – including military veterans.

Of all the career paths winding through the business world, few can match the prestige and fascination of corporate board service. The honor of being selected to guide the future of an enterprise, combined with the intellectual challenge of helping that enterprise succeed despite the odds, make directorship a strong magnet for ambition and a worthy goal for accomplishment.

I recently heard about a board that had developed a “career path” for its directors. Even before I knew all the facts, I gave it a thumbs down. From the sound of it, directors on this board were serving too long –long enough to make a “career” of their service. Also, the term “career” implied that the organization was knocking itself out keeping the directors happy, but I wondered if the company was putting enough focus on the other side of the equation—the board. True, it takes directors to make a board, but by focusing on directors rather than on the board, wasn’t this company ignoring the hardest question: Do we have the right people in the first place? 

BlueSteps recently hosted the #ExecCareer Chat: Diversity and Women on Boards, featuring Adriane Willig, Principal at Witt/Kieffer.
Some of the questions asked included:

Diversity and Boardroom Benefits

There has been much debate surrounding the place of women regarding corporate governance, but recently the question has turned from “why are there so few women in the boardroom?” to “How can we bring more women to the boardroom?”

There is a strong feeling that women are not being treated equally in the workplace, and that issues such as compensation and placement in the boardroom still have some way to go before equality is reached.

Breaking the glass ceiling is not a new initiative. For years we have scratched our heads, wondering why more women don’t make it into senior management positions. We have been told that women lack ambition, leadership skills and would rather raise children. We’ve heard that boardrooms are old boy’s networks and that if you’re not willing to play golf or tennis you will not be successful.

You’re a senior executive and, after many years as corporate leader, you decided to target a non-executive or independent board director seat. Perhaps you reached the age of 50+ and your outlook changed, or you already are a board director and want to be on more boards. Either way, you can leverage your leadership experience and expertise to qualify for that seat on the governing body of a corporation.
1. Get Started: What do you do? Is the resume that you used for corporate roles appropriate for board director roles? It probably needs some changes. Most likely, information needs to be reweighted and job descriptions need streamlining.