The Chase for a Board Seat

I’ve been both fortunate and successful in securing several board seats for several great companies.  I often get asked how I was able to obtain these positions. I will share learnings from my journey from the corporate office to the boardroom in a series of posts in this and subsequent newsletters.

Begin the search process by identifying the value you believe you bring to a board and build your brand around it.  For example, I have built my board value around my experiences as a being the “Health Plan” expert and thought leader.  I chose this value because I have over 30 years working inside health plans and 20+ years during that time I was an executive.  In addition, my breadth and depth of experiences within the health plan arena reinforces this value.  For example when I refer to breadth, I can state that I have worked in every segment of the business including Commercial, Medicare, Medicaid, Individual, Group and Military.  In addition, I have worked for both group and network model health plans and have managed all line of coverage such as medical, dental, vision, life, disability and workplace voluntary benefits.  As for depth, I have been in roles and/or responsible for operations such as claims and customer service, provider contracting, Innovation, underwriting and more.  Finally, I am also an individual who looks around corners and attempts to connect the dots to uncover emerging trends or potential business opportunities. 

A friend of mine positions himself as the Consumer Packaged Goods guy, as he has had extensive work experience at CPG companies.  Another friend positions herself as the customer experience expert and still another as a marketing expert.  When determining your brand, look at your career in total and decide where you think the value lies which can be narrower in focus than my brand.

The next step is to ensure that your personal marketing material supports your branding.  I am referring to your LinkedIn profile, resume and executive profile.  Your LinkedIn profile should reflect your brand in your summary.  The details of your experiences should call out strategic, leadership and operational skills.  Make sure your LinkedIn profile picture is professional.  If you are looking for a board seat, a picture of you at the beach or on the slopes is not going to convey “executive presence.”  You can either hire a professional photographer or simply dress up and have a friend take a picture with a good cell phone camera.  Your resume should also call out key strengths and skills and it will contain more details as to the essence of the role.  Be truthful with your employment dates and educational credentials as these will be thoroughly checked during the board search process.

Finally, develop an executive profile which tells your professional story in your own words. Recruiters will often send the profile for an initial reaction from their clients before forwarding the more detailed resume.  Make sure that the profile includes a picture and is aligned with what you have stated on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Discrepancies, even unintentional ones raise a red flag. 

Stay tuned for more information on conducting a search for a board seat in my next newsletter.