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Corporate Board Journey Advice With Women in the Boardroom President & Founder Sheila Ronning

Corporate Board Journey Advice With Women in the Boardroom President & Founder Sheila Ronning

What advice can you offer women who want a seat at the table?

Network! I highly recommend making a list of people in your network, especially the people you need to reconnect with who are influencers and connectors. Reach out to and maintain a relationship with them. They are the ones who can help you get to the next step in your career or into the boardroom. We have a recorded webinar on our proven process called How to Network Yourself Into a Corporate Board Seat.

What if I don’t have a network to reach out to for board seats?

You do! I have worked with many women who didn’t think they had access to a network, but I was able to help them identify a good base to connect to. Networking for your board seat does not mean that you need to attend events and meet with 50 new people a month. You have a network, and I am a great resource to utilize in helping you figure out who those people are!

Do I have the right skill sets for corporate board service? 

Over the last five years, boards have expanded their search beyond financial experts to other areas including: Technology, Risk Management, HR – Talent Management, M&A, Global experience, Sales & Marketing and Operations. This has evolved even more so during the covid pandemic to be inclusive of areas like artificial intelligence, cyber security, supply chain, healthcare, and medicine. Consider what uniquely qualifies you for board service and identify opportunities that match your skills.

Am I all set for a board opportunity if I network and work with a recruiter?

Networking is the key to your first and/or subsequent board seat. Therefore, you need to be strategic when it comes to networking. It’s also important to consider that less than 15% of board seats are filled by a search firm, so it is not wise to rely solely on working with a recruiter. At Women in the Boardroom, we use a proven strategic networking process along with our Matchmaking Program™. Even though we are not a search firm, we receive countless board seat openings that we share with our VIP Members as part of their membership.

How far in advance should I start thinking about the skills needed to be on a corporate board?

It’s never too early to start your journey to the boardroom. Women should know their skill sets, what boards are looking for, and to fill in any gaps in their skills while they have the opportunity to do so. It’s also wise to seek a corporate board seat while still holding an executive post. Keep in mind, it can take a lot of time and commitment to develop the skills, network, and reputation required to land your first corporate board seat. It’s also important to understand that some boards may feel you need to acquire more proof of your impact as a leader. If you know that board directorship is an ambition but maybe not something you want to commit to fully today, use this time to get smart on good corporate governance and strategic leadership with our Executive Development Program.

Does WIB only help women who are new to corporate board service?

Not at all! Currently, 60% of our members are serving on corporate boards. Experienced board members come to us to help them expand their boardroom skill sets, tweak and add to their board documents, guide them on future board campaigns, learn how to work their network to gain another board seat, and to stay in-the-know about timely boardroom topics and corporate board openings.

How long can I expect to work toward my goal of corporate board service?

Experienced directors say it can take three to five years to get on your first board. They also point to the need for persistence and patience in pursuing this opportunity. Several of our members have gotten their seat at the table much faster; some members have gotten on boards within a few years of joining while others have landed seats within a couple of months of becoming a WIB member! It’s important to remember that you will have to do the work and be committed. If you are not willing to dedicate a minimum of five hours per month to the process, it may not be the right time for you. There is no easy road to the boardroom, but we are here to help.

Will serving on a non-profit board help my chances at a corporate board seat?

Non-profit boards can help you on your path to the corporate boardroom if:

  • It’s a large non-profit
  • It’s a well-run board with good governance
  • They’re passionate about their mission
  • You take a leadership role
  • You know what to expect of the time commitment & what you’ll give/ get

What are the main benefits of serving on a corporate board?

I could speak all day about this! Individual motivations and benefits vary, but board service is an intellectually and financially rewarding experience. It builds leadership skills that translate directly to your professional career. It also offers the satisfaction of helping corporate leadership provide better performance for their shareholders. Additionally, it is a great way to expand the reach of your extensive corporate skills and your professional network.

Do I need board documents – and what are they?

Yes, you absolutely need board documents. It’s important to know that board documents are not the same as a resume/CV or a marketing bio. These documents highlight your background for board positioning and are needed to provide board search leaders insight into the value you could bring to their board. We help women prepare their board documents and identify what makes them uniquely qualified for board service. Our members tell us that our board coaches have been invaluable in helping them to create a noteworthy board portfolio.

About Women in the Boardroom™

Since 2002, we have been the experts that help you get your seat at the table. We provide a customized step-by-step approach to getting on your 1st, 2nd or 3rd corporate board that includes exclusive programs such as our Matchmaking Program™, Annual Board Assembly and proven networking process. And with nearly 50% of our VIP Members serving on corporate boards, our proven process works!

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