You want a seat at the board table, but do you have the right table manners?

As the CEO of Alta Associates for the past 31 years and the founder of the Executive Woman’s Forum on Information Security, Risk Management & Privacy (EWF), I’ve had an opportunity to gain a unique perspective of the evolution of the cybersecurity, risk and privacy fields.

In the past few years I’ve been asked the same question many times by EWF members and Alta clients, “Joyce, how do I get a seat on a Board?”

The question didn’t surprise me as we are seeing a surge of interest in diversifying boards and adding women.  Not to mention that companies are beginning to recognize the value of having digital directors with cybersecurity experience at the boardroom table.

My answer, “You want a seat at the table, but you don’t have any table manners!”  I would proceed by asking them the following questions:

  • Do you know how boards work?
  • Have you broadened your skillset enough to be attractive to them?
  • Have you given any thought to your network?
  • Have you started thinking strategically about how best to prepare and market yourself for that eventual seat?”

Most couldn’t answer these questions.  Moreover, when they pressed me as to how best prepare for the board service, I wasn’t sure how to advise them.

I began researching and what I found was that most courses that were being offered from great organizations like NACD or Women Corporate Directors were for professionals who were already on boards or were C level and looking for introductions. Furthermore, most programs require a lengthy application process, not to mention added expenses of membership, travel and time off work.

I can honestly say that only a small percentage of people that approached me were truly Board Ready.  The vast majority had no experience and were looking to start understanding Board service, the inner working and how to best to position themselves to get the attention of nominating and governance committees.

I saw the need and set out to build something that didn’t exist. Today, BoardSuited is the program to fill the void, offering executives the comprehensive preparation they need, with the convenience of a self-paced, online learning environment they seek.

If you, too, are not sure how to articulate the answers the questions above, it’s time for you to get BoardSuited.  We have a seat waiting for you.