Non-executive directors must detach themselves from operational matters to offer a different perspective, constructively challenge their Board colleagues, and offer pertinent insights into the issues at hand. 

It’s no longer enough to be the executive that could deliver results. It’s about being the non-executive who understands the implications of those results. If you want to transition from executive into non-executive roles, you must demonstrate that you are capable of making this shift in thinking. 

Standing out

A well-written Board CV can help.  Not only will it make an impactful first impression, it will also demonstrate your fundamental grasp of the difference in mindset necessary to succeed as a non-executive.

Here are some of the key differences:

An Executive CV:

A well-written Board CV:

  • Highlights your breadth of skill and experience
  • Highlights your primary capabilities in the context of your strategic contribution to a Board.
  • Demonstrates your track record of delivery and achievements within your organisation
  • Demonstrates your ability to translate your experience into particular areas of expertise that add value to the Board and to the Executive team.
  • Reflects your career trajectory
  • Reflects your ability to understand the value you bring to a board as a result of your career trajectory.
  • Focuses on illustrating your abilities across the spectrum, from design to delivery
  • Focuses on illustrating your ability to lead, drive, direct and/or govern within an organisation

 

Making the move

What’s required to make the shift from executive to Board?  

First, think in terms of your primary capability:

What functional and sector expertise defines you?

Boards are made up of a number of defined roles as a result of their committee structure. For example, there are committees for audit, risk and compliance, remuneration, and nomination. So, if you were to be assigned to a committee, which one would it be? 

Adding value

The second thing to consider is how to translate your track record of delivery into something meaningful on a Board CV.

Here it helps to ask the question: “So what would I contribute?”

For example, say you’re a former Audit Partner with ten years’ experience in a Big 4 accounting firm, and you’ve sat on an industry association board for three years until last year. You would like to join a new Fintech company who are looking for an independent director to join their existing board of highly tech-focused millennials. They are new to the market and looking to get the relevant licences, but lack real experience in the banking sector. 

What does your Audit Partner experience mean for that board? What does your industry association network mean? What value can it bring? In addition to the contribution that you would make to the Audit Committee, your added value contribution might come from the close contacts you have developed with different banks in the local market, as well as the regulators, together with your years of experience about how the banks work. Your ability to navigate strategically through the sector is invaluable for a board like this.

From ‘what’ to ‘how’

Finally, having identified what is relevant to your experience, the next step lies in how to present it effectively. 

A well-written Board CV reinforces for the reader that you have the personal qualities and attributes to be a strong Non-executive Director, without the inclusion of subjective statements.

Here are a few good examples:

A Board CV that:

Suggests that you:

  • Objectively presents your primary capability set in relation to the wider Board composition
  • Are of independent mind, with the ability to set out an objective view on a subjective subject.
  • Is focused, concise and relevant (two pages is enough)
  • Are capable of writing focused, concise and relevant remarks
  • Contains a concise summary of your ability to contribute strategically, with reference to a high level of technical expertise
  • Have the intellectual agility required to distinguish between strategic concepts and analytical insights
  • Clearly categorises your experience, for example, Summary / Current Committee or Board Experience / Executive Career summary / Professional Qualifications / Professional Networks or Memberships
  • Can present information in a logical and methodical manner
  • Identifies your transferable skills and what they might add to the organisation
  • Can apply critical thought, creative problem solving and lateral thinking skills to an issue

 

Search boost

Now you have a well-written Board CV, what difference does it make when you’re looking to transition from executive to non-executive roles? 

From an executive search perspective, it sets you apart for a number of reasons:

  • A well-written CV stands out. It makes a strong first impression. We’ll remember you.
  • It demonstrates that you know what you want. As a result, you’ll be front-of-mind for the most relevant opportunities.
  • It highlights where you can add significant value. When we call to discuss an opportunity, our conversation is likely to be affirmative and mutually beneficial.  We won’t waste your time.
  • Our clients will understand your strengths and value proposition. Their first impression of you is likely to be highly positive, and chances are they will be more likely to want to meet you.

Undoubtedly, a good, well-written Board CV can improve your prospects of moving from Executive to Board-level. Building that CV on a sound understanding of the value you might add in the Board environment is critical. We hope this article has helped you ask the right questions and express the relevant aspects of your experience in the most convincing way when it comes to writing your Board CV.

For more information on our Board Practice, please get in touch.

Rowan Hillis

Rowan is a Principal at Odgers Berndtson in Ireland where she works to appoint senior executives and board members across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. She is also part of the HR...

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