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A guide to a fulfilling board career in Australia

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The allure of a board, or portfolio career in Australia is undeniable. The opportunity to contribute your expertise, guide an organisation's strategic direction, and shape its future is a privilege sought by many. However, transitioning from a successful executive to a sought-after board member requires a strategic and proactive approach.

In this guide, Emily Wilson, FutureYou Managing Director & Co-Founder, delves into 7 key steps that pave the way for a successful board career, obtained from her extensive experience consulting to Australian Boards, CEOs, Managing Directors.

Emily Wilson, FutureYou Managing Director & Co-Founder

“Building a portfolio board career in Australia does not happen overnight. Intentional steps need to be taken to position and establish yourself in a Board role.

These steps offer an action plan guide to develop and grow a portfolio career with the expertise, experience, and commitment to make a significant impact across multiple Australian businesses. 

Remember, building a successful board career takes time, dedication, and a strategic approach. 

Execute the steps, leverage your strengths, and make the time to connect and expand your network.”

1. Cultivating expertise and credibility

Building a strong foundation in your primary career is paramount. Consistent achievements and a demonstrably successful track record act as your calling card. Compile a portfolio showcasing your professional accomplishments, quantifiable contributions, and leadership qualities. This evidence will become a powerful tool when pursuing board positions so consider seeking a designer, or web developer to create a digital version for you to easily share and distribute.

2. Developing a targeted strategy

Don't be a generalist; become a specialist within the boardroom. Identify specific board types that align with your skills, interests, and values. Are you drawn to the fast pace of the tech industry, the social impact focus of non-profits, or the governance needs of family-owned businesses? Having a clear vision for your ideal board roles allows you to tailor your approach and network more effectively.

3. Leveraging the power of your network

Networks are the lifeblood of board recruitment. Actively participate in industry events, conferences, and professional gatherings where current board members congregate. Build genuine relationships, showcase your expertise, and subtly express your board aspirations. Remember, recommendations from trusted connections hold significant weight in the board selection process.

4. Investing in governance knowledge

Board service is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. Equip yourself with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in the boardroom. Consider pursuing professional education and training programs offered by organisations like the Governance Institute of Australia. Courses on corporate governance, risk management, and director duties will demonstrate your commitment and preparedness to fellow board members and potential nominating committees.

5. Gaining practical experience with voluntary roles

Don't underestimate the value of starting small. Seek out voluntary board positions with non-profit organisations or community groups. These roles provide invaluable hands-on experience in board dynamics, navigating complex decision-making processes, and understanding governance practices in action. This experience not only bolsters your resume but also allows you to refine your boardroom skills in a supportive environment.

6. Maintaining a visible online presence

Your online presence is an extension of your professional persona. Optimise your LinkedIn profile to reflect your board aspirations. Highlight relevant skills, showcase impressive achievements, and tailor your profile to resonate with the board community. Engaging in industry-specific online discussions and relevant groups further increases your visibility and positions you as a thought leader within your field.

7. Committing to continuous learning

A successful board member is a lifelong learner. Continuously update your knowledge base by attending industry seminars, workshops, or conferences. Staying abreast of current trends, best practices, and regulatory changes demonstrates your dedication to excellence and enhances your value proposition as an effective board member.

By following these steps and remaining dedicated to your professional development, you can establish yourself as a highly regarded board candidate with the expertise, experience, and commitment to make a significant impact across multiple Australian businesses. Remember, building a successful board career takes time, dedication, and a strategic approach. Embrace the journey, leverage your strengths, and watch your boardroom presence flourish.

If you want to discuss any of these points, or need further guidance on navigating the Australian board landscape, connect with Emily Wilson today.

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