How to Land—and Keep—the Right Board Seat

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What does it take to get on a board? It’s not an easy task. Identifying, approaching, and successfully procuring a seat on the right board can be a long, and sometimes daunting, journey. This panel offered insights on the future of boardroom composition. Having a board made up of people with relevant skill sets and experience is critical in today’s competitive business environment, and boards want the best candidates available. The panel discussed the latest trends in director recruitment and how they impact the search process. It also discussed the qualifications most commonly found in successful candidates. Maggie Wilderotter, chairman and CEO of Frontier Communications Corp. and director of Xerox and Procter & Gamble, shared her perspective and experiences, having served on 23 public company boards over the last 28 years.

1. Boards are focusing more on succession planning—looking three to five years out for the skills they’ll need to help drive success. It’s not surprising that most board searches still focus on CEOs (which is what large-cap companies want) or business unit heads (which mid-cap companies seek). Whatever the title, the key is that person has a track record of making good decisions. What’s also notable is that the majority of directors landed on boards because they knew an influential person, such as another director, who recommended them.

2. Board search firms will often reach out to CEOs and directors to ask for the name of the best director on their board and why that person provides the most value. Often the characteristics of those “best” directors are similar. They keep the company top of mind. They are bright and have good judgment. They challenge, but do so respectfully. And they mentor management. They are also generally likeable and are easy to interact with.

3. If you’re looking for a board seat, you need to be able to articulate where you could add value. That often means focusing on the two or three industries where you believe your skills would be a great fit. And be strategic in identifying companies on whose boards you would like to serve, then make it your mission to get to know those directors. You also need to understand who else is on the board and be comfortable that you would fit with the culture and values.

Robert E. Hallagan
Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Board Leadership Services, Korn/Ferry International

Maggie Wilderotter
Chairman and CEO, Frontier Communications Corp.; Director, Xerox, Procter & Gamble

This summary provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers.