What's New
Arts & Leisure
Fashion & Style
House & Home
Professional Advice
Times of your Life
About Us
Search the Site

Acronis - True Image 2009

Closet Storage

PDF Converter 5

Save $1 Per Box On Personal Checks

How to Get on a Board
By Debbie Christofferson, CISSP, CISM

Participating at the highest level of business leadership, an average board director's pay exceeds $200K, according to a recent Fortune magazine article. Besides pay potential, total benefits create a compelling reason to join this lucrative club.

Women particularly have an unrealized opportunity. Female Information Technology (IT) colleagues are immersed within non-profit boards, but not for-profit board experience.

What Function Do Boards Serve?

Boards provide strategic guidance, governance oversight, and accountability for decision-making. Boards serve the interests of shareholders. They are focused on compliance, strategy and company performance.

Regulatory changes make board roles more important than ever. IT has grown in its impact to the bottom line and enterprise risk.

Boards support profits, non-profits, small or large companies, public or private.

Benefits of Belonging to a Board

Board membership grows your career and

  • Develops executive leadership and your ability to think and influence broadly
  • Broadens your experience, decision-making and network
  • Showcases you and your company

All board experience is a plus. But risks also exist.

Risks of Board Membership

Pressures on boards and CEOs have increased, due to reduced earnings and profits, and failed companies. Accountability exists for board actions and decision-making.

You may be subject to litigation for failed management or companies. Board members can be personally sued. Board & Officers (B&O) insurance typically covers this risk, but your reputation can be muddied.

A major time commitment is required, and travel may be involved. You may be paid or not, depending on the board and your experience. Due diligence and research are needed. Rewards and potential far exceed risks in most cases.

Making Yourself an Attractive Candidate

To position yourself for future roles, build direct relationships with the current board and a company's senior management. Make your interests known. Start small and join industry groups. Focus on and cultivate the expertise you need.

Contribute your time and expertise to a non-profit organization, or small companies in your field. Technical Advisory Councils offer opportunities for non-executive positions.

Choose an industry or company where your experience and skills add value. Be comfortable with the goals and direction of the organization.

Where Opportunity Lies

Except for experienced Fortune 500 or Standard & Poor 1500 C-level executives, board membership is a tight-knit club where it's hard to gain entry. However, opportunities do exist.

More executives are limiting their service due to time commitments and the rising potential for reputational risk. Increased turnover opens doors to new entry.

With today's business reliance on technology, IT executives are more likely to be included.

For-profit boards require you to be invited or recommended, through a networking connection. You can also be solicited by a board placement recruiting agency. Non-profits vary more in their approach. Selection criteria are tough and competition is stiff.

Board Member Profile for Executives

CIOs (Chief Information Officers) are more attractive, with non-IT experience, and Profit and Loss (P&L) management.

Experience, knowledge and traits of board members:

  • Private sector experience, public companies, industry knowledge, financial expertise and management experience
  • Competencies that will be necessary in the market served by that company or board
  • Consistent performance over a sustained period
  • Expert leadership, interpersonal and communication skills

Your own experience and skills can be translated into opportunities.

Places to Stand Out

  • Identify gaps in a board's competencies, based on its strategic priorities, where your strengths could make you a good candidate.
  • Target an industry where your skills and experience will most benefit. Start with your own company.
  • Look for the investors-venture capitalists and private equity firms that focus in specific industries. Find out their needs, and which companies they're funding.

Make a commitment with your eyes wide open. You risk career credibility if you drop out.


Board appointments are all about your networks. Establish relationships with existing board members, and identify yourself as an industry expert through publishing and speaking. Be clear on what will be required of you, and position yourself wisely. Benefits must be apparent for both you and the company.

Get started now by taking your first step towards a for-profit board. Your return on investment will propel you to new career heights and horizons.


For the full report, send email to DebbieChristofferson@earthlink.net with "BOARD MEMBERSHIP" in your subject line.

COMING NEXT: Green technology jobs.

Best Regards, Debbie Christofferson. CISSP,CISM

Break through the Glass ceiling with advice from ClevelandWomen.com

Top of Page

Back to Women & Tech Careers

Meet Debbie Christofferson

Debie Christofferson

Copyright 2010 ClevelandWomen.Com. All Rights Reserved.
Questions or Comments? E-Mail us at: