Becoming a director on a board

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A question has been received from Ricky Nowak in Melbourne. Ricky asks: What is the most effective way a Director can find further opportunities to get onto other Boards?

There are 2 aspects to this question. The first is for people who are not on any board at the moment. For these people it is imperative that they complete the Company Director’s Diploma with AICD,(Australian Institute of Company Directors) or the Corporate Director’s Diploma with UNE Partnerships. (I have completed both qualifications and found them both very good and complementary to each other – while they both cover the same basic information, the “extra” aspects and the mode of delivery vary.)

Without one of these qualifications it will be very difficult to become attractive to a board.

The second aspect of the question is for people who are already on a board and want to join another. From here on in, the answer is the same.

Once you have the qualifications, it’s all about networking and “who you know”. The AICD has a register for people who want to get onto a board but you must of course have completed their diploma to be registered. The best networking you can do is to attend the AICD functions which are run in every state. Here you will meet other directors, some already on boards and some like you – looking for opportunities.

Make sure you network professionally. First impressions count big time so dress appropriately and don’t be pushy. Read everything written by Robyn Henderson – Australia’s networking specialist. (www.robynhenderson.com)

If you are already on a board, make sure your fellow directors are aware that you are looking for another board to serve on. These people know other people and the offers when they come, will nearly always come through your network.

There is a saying which says – “to get where you want to go, mix with people who are already there”. So, start mixing with other directors.

There is also a school of thought (to which I subscribe) that it always looked upon favourably if directors are on at least one not-for-profit board. This shows a concern for the community.

Finally and most important, remember that you need to do YOUR due diligence on the company when you are offerred a directorship. New directors often rush in when they are offerred a directorship, only to find that the company has problems. You need to fully investigate the company and also the other directors. The last thing you want is to be tarnished by a fellow “suspect” director or a bad company.

Once you have the director’s diploma you will fully understand the risks involved with being a director. Take these risks seriously before taking on a directorship and don’t rush in to acceptance without checking thoroughly.

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