When Tim Boyle talks about celebrity chairs, dogmatic drones and dead debates, you might think he’s describing prime time television. In fact it’s the language of the boardroom. As an expert advisor with a Doctorate in Board Performance and Risk, and a partner in the specialist board advisory group Blackhall & Pearl, Tim is well qualified to identify its behaviours.

Last week when Slade Partners Technical & Operations practice opened its boardroom to senior industry executives, we all gained valuable insight into what Boards are really looking for in NED appointments. Tim Boyle revealed, “The world of Directors has changed since the GFC… you actually have to work quite hard and you’re exposed to a lot of criticism, and if something goes wrong, it’s absolutely your fault… it’s probably the worst time in human history to be a director from a liability perspective, and from a workload perspective.”

In fact more people than we could fit into our boardroom (and our boardroom table is big) wanted to be involved. Why? Since confidence is returning to the market, as reported last month in Green Shoots Feed Job Confidenceexecutives are thinking more strategically about professional development and their career future. We attracted broad interest from colleagues in the infrastructure, property, construction, and manufacturing sectors.

While many think about Boards through a compliance lens, a Board’s real focus is strategy. Tim went on to say that a Board position can be very rewarding and engaging; it can extend your skill set, as well as your network. It takes a unique combination of executive experience, industry knowledge, and director skills, as well as personal qualities such as integrity, teamwork, leadership and commitment. Finding the right person for the task is challenging. “The single most important determinant of an effective board is the culture in the boardroom,” he says.

Slade Group Chairman, Geoff Slade, has sat at many boardroom tables. Founding Chairman of the RCSA, Former Chairman of Young President’s Organisation and Regional Chairman Elect (Australia–New Zealand) WPO, Geoff was until recently a Non-Executive Director of Alzheimer’s Australia VIC and has held NED appointments on the Melbourne Football Club Board and the Sydney Swans Football Club Board. With his considerable Board experience, Geoff shares the following tips for executives considering NED positions:

  • Ask yourself what do I have to offer, what can I contribute as a Board member?
  • Make sure you have time to commit to a Board position, that the additional responsibilities will fit in with your schedule, workload, and your current employer is supportive.
  • Consider what you will learn from the appointment. How will it advance your career, will you have professional development opportunities, and more importantly, will it be enjoyable?
  • Finding the right Board position takes time. Use your network and identify organisations that interest you. Consider not-for-profit and unpaid positions as a starting point.
  • Do your due diligence, find out what the culture of the organisation and its Board are like and make sure you will receive an induction (onboarding).

What’s your experience of finding a Board position? We’d like to hear your Point of View.