Am I board-ready?
On this page:
- About boards
- Do I have what it takes to serve on a board? (self-assessment)
- Preparing for board roles
- Apply for board roles
- Resources for becoming board ready
What is a board?
A board is the governing body of an organisation. Its main objective is to provide purpose, leadership, direction and overall strategy for the organisation for which it is responsible.
Generally, the functions of the board include:
- setting goals, providing leadership, formulating strategy and approving business plans for the company
- approving key organisational policies
- monitoring management performance and business results
- appointing, rewarding and replacing the CEO and chairman, and appointing and replacing other senior executives
- approving annual budgets and key management decisions (e.g. restructuring and refinancing)
- ensuring legal and compliance requirements are met
- overseeing the integrity of the company’s accounting and corporate reporting systems
- ensuring the company has an appropriate risk management framework in place
- planning for the succession and orientation of board members.
Composition of the board
The board is comprised of executive and non-executive directors acting collectively. An executive director is both a full-time employee and a director of the organisation. Hence, these directors have day-to-day management responsibilities and usually include the managing director and one or more other senior executives.
On the other hand, a non-executive director is independent from the organisation and often maintains executive and non-executive roles on the boards of other organisations. As non-executive directors only serve on a part-time basis, they are not expected to have the same level of detailed knowledge as executive directors. However, as a general principle, they should know enough about the organisation to enable them to govern effectively.
Different types of boards
The different types of boards can generally be categorised as either private sector, public sector or not-for-profit.
There are hundreds of public sector boards, or government boards, across Queensland. They can be divided into 6 broad functional categories:
As the stakeholders for these boards are generally taxpayers and Australian citizens, they are driven by public interest considerations.
The private sector is profit-driven and includes small and large proprietary companies, unlisted companies, and listed companies on the ASX. The operation of private sector boards is governed by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). Directors of private sector boards have a duty to act in the best interests of the company and for a proper purpose, to exercise due care and diligence and to avoid conflicts of interests.
Not-for-profit boards support organisations that may service the community, or provide services to support the community. These organisations operate for many different purposes or to achieve various objectives, covering sectors including health, aged care, education, social services, culture and recreation and community support. The legislation governing the operation of not-for-profit boards may include the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) or various state-based Associations Incorporation Acts, depending on the organisation’s legal structure. Sitting on the board of a not-for-profit may be a good start for those without any board experience.
Relationship between the board and management
A productive and harmonious relationship between the board and management is integral to ensuring good governance – however, there are fundamental differences between their roles. In broad terms, the board is focused on high-level strategic issues and policy planning, while operational issues are left to management. In short, the role of management is to implement the board's decisions, carry out day-to-day management (for example, management of employees), look after the day-to-day finance and provide the board with any relevant or requested information.
Do I have what it takes to serve on a board? (self-assessment)
Whether you are aiming to sit on a private sector, public sector or not-for-profit board, there are some fundamental criteria which guide all board appointments. To consider whether you are ready to serve on a board, you may ask yourself the following questions:
Do I have knowledge in these areas?
- Accounting and finance
- Strategy and planning
- Human resources
- Legal knowledge and governance
- Knowledge of a director’s responsibilities
- Risk management
Do I exhibit the following skills and attributes?
- Emotional intelligence (e.g. conflict resolution)
- Ethics, integrity and professionalism
- Collaboration skills
- Leadership skills
- Networking skills
- Time management
- Public speaking
- Commitment to diversity and inclusion
- Strategic thinking
Do I have the right experience?
- Board or leadership experience in a relevant sector or industry
- Knowledge about the relevant sector or industry
It is important for you to explore any specific knowledge or qualifications required for the boards you are interested in. Consider these in your self-assessment also. If you have development gaps in the general, or more board specific criteria, see Preparing for board roles.
Preparing for board roles
Get a mentor
Mentoring is widely considered as a critical component to career success - allowing mentees to learn from the practical experience and wisdom of their more experienced mentor. A mentor acts as your role model and guide, helping you to expand your networks and connections in the relevant sector or industry.
Mentoring would not only focus on your professional development, but also on the personal development aspects of your career. In particular, a mentor could help you to set and achieve your career goals, identify and maximise your strengths and aptitudes when considering board roles, address areas or gaps in your skillset where you require development, and expand your connections. When looking for somebody to be your mentor, you should consider people who have served on similar boards in the same sector or industry - as they will be more likely to share more relevant insights and experiences.
As a mentee, your responsibilities include:
- taking a proactive role in shaping the mentoring relationship
- understanding what you want to gain from the mentoring relationship, and communicate this to your mentor
- exploring your own strengths and weaknesses
- developing a set of goals and evaluating them regularly
- being honest and open with your mentor about challenges or weaknesses
- taking up opportunities to network and build connections
- accepting feedback and constructive criticism from your mentor
- taking responsibility for your own personal and professional development.
If your organisation already has a formal mentoring program in place, you may decide to join to find a mentor. On the other hand, you may decide to find a mentor externally. There are many organisations that offer mentoring specifically for aspiring female directors. Some of these include:
Before applying for board positions, you should consider whether you need to upgrade your formal education to be attractive to a board. Education programs can range from short eLearning courses or one day workshops, to formal degree level and beyond. Attending education or training programs is also a great way to network with like-minded people and build your connections.
On this website you will find a list of possible education programs for women aspiring to be directors that will prove a useful planning tool in addressing individual development needs.
Aspiring directors should also reflect on the following questions to help shape their individual development plan in preparing for a board.
|Do I need to update my knowledge in any of the following areas?|
|Do I need to attend board-specific training?|
e.g. Company Directors Course)
|Do I need to attend any board CV or LinkedIn development training?|
|Do I need to attend any other education or training programs?|
Investing in your personal development is the key to enhancing your reputation and driving board and organisational performance. Professional development courses can range from short eLearning courses to intensive face-to-face workshops.
|Do I need to update my skills and attributes in any of these areas?|
Expand your networks
Networks are connections or relationships that you have formed with people in your profession, industry or sector. There are many benefits of building your professional network, including:
- increasing the number of board opportunities you hear about
- keeping up-to-date with issues affecting your industry or sector
- access to influential people who make decisions over board appointments in your industry or sector.
There are many ways that you can expand your networks. For example, you may attend a training course for aspiring Directors or other events in your industry or sector, join a professional association such as the Australian Institute of Company Directors or Women on Boards, create a LinkedIn account, or get a mentor in your industry or sector who allows you to leverage their connections.
It is important to do your research in understanding current board members on boards you are interested in joining. Consider if there are others already in your network who know them so you can leverage existing connections for introductions. Overall, you will need to develop a targeted plan for identifying those you wish to connect with and how you will go about connecting and building an effective relationship with them. Networking takes dedicated focus and time, but the rewards are worth the effort.
Join a professional association or industry body
Becoming a member of a professional association or industry body is another avenue for meeting influential people and raising your profile by attending their courses or networking events.
Social media presence
Developing your presence on social media is integral for current and aspiring board members. LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network, and allows members to manage their professional identities and build industry connections.
Before applying for board positions, you may consider creating a LinkedIn profile which includes your relevant and up-to-date education history, work experience, volunteering and community activities, skills, accomplishments, contact information, endorsements and a professional photograph.
Before applying for board positions, you may consider attending a LinkedIn development training course, or getting help from a professional association or body.
Apply for board roles
Before applying for board roles, you ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have what it takes to serve on a board?
- Have I sufficiently prepared for a board role?
- Do I understand the particular duties and responsibilities of the board role that I am applying for?
- Do I have sufficient knowledge of the organisation, sector or industry relevant to the board position?
- Do I have enough time to commit to being a diligent board member?
Find vacant board positions
Anyone interested in serving on a Queensland Government Board may submit a CV and completed registration form through the Queensland Register of Nominees to Government Bodies (QRON) website. When a position becomes available, your details are matched to the criteria for the proposed appointment and you may be contacted to confirm your interest in the position and further outline any other requirements of the role.
You should also regularly monitor Smartjobs, departmental websites, social media and other online platforms, Seek and other vacancy websites for Queensland Government Board vacancies.
Private sector board positions are commonly advertised on the websites of professional associations or other nominated bodies such as:
- Australian Institute of Company Directors
- Board Direction
- Director Institute: Next Generation Directors
- Women on Boards
If you are considering serving on a not-for-profit board, you should consider using the Board Position Matching Service on the Institute of Community Directors Australia website. The Institute also offers a number of events and courses for aspiring and current not-for-profit board members.
Develop a board ready CV
When preparing to apply for a board position, you should have a board ready CV that is relevant to the specific position that you are applying for, and reflects your current knowledge, skills, attributes and experience. A board CV differs from a normal CV, and should include the following:
- personal information (full name, address, contact number, email, LinkedIn address)
- board profile (approximately 3 sentences describing your experience, skills, networks and what you can personally bring to the board)
- current/previous board positions and responsibilities (if applicable)
- career overview or employment history
- education and qualifications
- professional training and accredited courses
- membership of professional associations
- awards and achievements
- any other requested or relevant information (for example, hobbies, interests, community involvement).
Your board CV should also be concise and tailored to the organisation and position you are applying for. Before applying for board positions, you may consider attending a board CV training course, or getting help from a professional association or body.
Download one of the following templates to help you get started:
- Not-for-profit sector CV template (DOCX)
- Private sector CV template (DOCX)
- Public sector CV template (DOCX)