The visibility of public boards is increasing and more executive leaders are becoming interested in joining corporate and paid boards. Generally, organizations and companies seeking board members continue to recruit from the same pool of candidates as they always have: current ranks of CEOs, CFOs or retired CEOs.
But today, board membership is accessible to a wider range of candidates, including business leaders who have not served in the CEO role or even in the C suite.
Still, companies are highly selective in choosing board members and competition continues to be fierce. Organizations are aware of their obligation to deliver a financial return to their shareholders, so they continue to look for potential board members with proven expertise starting, running and growing successful businesses.
In a nutshell, corporate boards routinely seek very senior executives who have big-picture experience, possess keen operational and financial skills, and know firsthand how business works and the functions and processes that make it work.
But there is also another avenue to board membership. Boards now have greater need for specialization, increasing their use of committees which provides greater opportunities for independent candidates to be considered. But, what continues to influence selection decisions are the needs of the key board committees: audit, governance and compensation.
If you are a professional with a deep subject matter specialty, your prospects for a corporate directorship may be rising rapidly! Your experience can add real value to board committees. Greater specialization and the intricacies of modern board work are reasons for the increased demand for boards to utilize committees. While the board as a legal unit always retains responsibility for the work of its committees. Committees, because of their focus on the Board’s mandate, tend to add efficiency and effectiveness in meeting that mandate.
More than ever, today’s boards are filling seats and committees with highly specific “mission critical” skill sets. Social Media, Cyber Fraud/security, Digital technology, Global market entry, Employee engagement and retention, Political expertise for heavily regulated companies and customer loyalty to name a few.
Here is the really good news. That list is just the tip of the iceberg.
Given the rapid change in today’s business world, the need for new subject matter skills are constantly emerging. And that is really good news for independent candidates.