Holding a position on a board of directors has appeal for many executives. In Part 1 of this series, I talked about how the boardroom has changed in the past 5 to 10 years. Click here to read the full blog.
There are some differences between what boards of directors in the United States and Europe consider important when hiring.
What are Boards of Directors in the US looking for?
You can be successful in business, but that doesn’t always mean that experience is what a board requires. There is an increased demand for people with global backgrounds outside the US, particularly Asia. They are also looking for people who understand technology, as well as those with digital and social media expertise. If the company has a board that is mainly comprised of older executives, they won’t have the same backgrounds or talents that are important in today’s business world.
If the organization is private equity (pre-IPO), they look for deep vertical knowledge of the business and industry. They need people with strong financial acumen to work closely with the business partners. Consider how you can showcase your skills, expertise, personal qualities, and attributes of how you interact in groups—all a plus. The pedigree of the companies where you have been employed is also a significant factor; it could help shortlist you.
What are Boards of Directors in Europe looking for?
Executives with a legal background are highly valued on European boards. They want good executive directors with expertise in specific areas.
European companies tend to appoint European executives because different parts of the world have different protocols. For example, US accounting standards differ from international accounting. So recruitment starts in Europe and, if an ideal candidate cannot be found, the search spreads out globally.
British boards still lean to the cast system and titles, although they are trying to break out of that system today. They are looking more at your ability to get along with everyone and perform and then at “who” you.
A public board seeking an American would prefer to find an American in the UK rather than in the states. They can afford to be very selective. When it comes to Asia, China, or India, they tend to encounter more challenges finding good candidates.
In part 3 of this series, I’ll cover how you can evaluate whether you are a good candidate for a board position, compensation, and networking.