Lauren has been working in the legal publishing industry for some time, but in 2016, she felt that she had reached the end of the line, in that space. She wanted to move forward and expand her horizons, but wasn’t sure which direction to take. Her focus was on finding opportunities in new job titles and/or industries, but it wasn’t until a close friend suggested she take a look at Future Directors did she think about the idea of a board role – something she hadn’t even thought of before.
Getting into the Boardroom
After some due diligence on us, Lauren decided to go for it and join our Make Me a Board Director program. During the group sessions, Lauren was able to realise she actually had skills and talents she could offer a board. We then went on to show her how to communicate those skills in a unique (boardroom) value proposition that would enable her to stand out from the crowd. She was also able to rewrite her resume to tailor it more towards the boardroom, which would allow potential interviewers to see her in an even better light.
Having completed the formal program and joined our growing alumni community, Lauren kept in action, searching for suitable board roles. When an opportunity came up through the Future Directors’ alumni network, Lauren sent her application through and was invited to interview with the chairperson. Lauren’s new pitch and interviewing skills allowed her to portray the unique value she could bring to their boardroom. In fact, when she applied for the role, they had initially wanted someone who had graduated the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ main course. But with our program under her belt, she was able to impress the chairperson so much that they changed their expectations and offered her the position, which she happily accepted (after some more due diligence).
Being in the Boardroom
One of the challenges Lauren soon found was the digital disparity between her fellow board members. Being one of the youngest members meant she had a better grasp on the positive aspects of technology and with this insight, she was able to see where board processes could be improved. With confidence and belief in herself, she was able to put forth an argument that outlined the benefits of “going digital”. Lauren says, ”Being able to present my ideas effectively and anticipate all the potential responses was key, and within the first two months of my sitting on the board, I had managed to jump that digital divide and implement an effective online system to streamline boardroom processes”“.
Overcoming that hurdle quite early on in her role helped set her up well for future discussions or situations that could prove challenging and would need her to be influential. Although Lauren admits she’s still learning every day.
Future Directors’ Paul Smith suggested this is a good tactic for any new board director looking to quickly gain influence and a reputation as a valuable asset to the boardroom. “Doing what comes naturally to you, is often not natural for those around you, so play to your strengths early on. Don’t be combative, be collaborative and always be thinking how will this add value to the board and our organisation”.
For Lauren, the board experience has so far been incredibly insightful. It’s opened up a new space in governance, risk and compliance, and has brought on a wealth of interesting opportunities not only for her professional growth, but personal development as well. It’s also taught her to think on her feet, talk off the cuff and overcome her natural introversion. Further, it’s helped bridge that gulf between older and younger directors by encouraging intergenerational learning and peer-to-peer mentorship.
If, like Lauren, you feel as though you’re at the end of the line in terms of your current role, then a board role might be the perfect thing for you. Take the Future Director’s Diagnostic Tool to find out more!