Key Qualifications for Board Service


The following key experiences, skills, and personal traits are often used to identify qualified candidates for corporate board seats.  The needs of boards vary significantly depending upon the size, type, and life stage of a company. There is no absolute profile but finding a match with a company if you are outside the framework below is much more difficult.  Candidates who are currently in an executive operating role are typically highly valued, but those who have held top leadership positions in large, well-known companies and are moving into board service as a next career step are also highly sought after.

Board Experience

  • Prior or Current Private or Public Company Board Director
  • Experience Presenting in a Corporate Boardroom Setting
  • Advisory Boards Can be a Springboard to Fiduciary Board
  • Nonprofit Board Experience  (Limited Qualifier for Corporate Board – But Does Show Governance Experience).

Executive Experience in Corporate Entities (Typically the larger the business the more likely you will be valued)

  • CEOs — Current and Past
  • CFOs, CPAs  (especially for SEC Financial Expert and Audit Committee Public Companies)
  • C-Level Executives
  • Senior Level Executives with Specialist Skills for that Industry
  • Division President & Heads of large enterprise corporations
  • Professionals – Lawyers, Accountants, Scientists, Professors
  • Specialists (combined with executive level management experience) such as:
    • AI
    • Cyber Security
    • Digitization
    • Big Data
    • Mobile
    • Global
    • Risk Mitigation/Management
    • M&A and Integration
    • Talent  (HR, Comp)
    • Capital Markets (especially for smaller companies)
    • Former Regulators & Government Officials Related to their industry
    • Government Relations & Compliance Specialist

Competency in one or more domains is essential.  Most companies look for candidates who have senior leadership experience or who have served on the board of another company in a similar industry of a larger size than their own company. Companies that are regulated by the government, like financial institution and biopharma,  often look for directors who have government experience. Global companies like board members with international skills and experience.

 General Skills

  • Demonstrated leadership success
  • P/L management
  • Broad view of company management
  • Growing and scaling the business
  • Strategic thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Understanding of independent director & governance best practices
  • Good understanding of financial statements
  • Operations Experience
  • Change management
  • Innovation

Personal Traits

  • Gravitas
  • Integrity
  • Informed judgment
  • High-performance standards
  • Independence
  • Willingness to speak up and ask tough questions (with diplomacy)
  • Mature confidence
  • Good interpersonal skills with other board members and company employees
  • Act in the best interests of the organization in all decisions
  • Excellent reputation
  • Maintains confidentiality
  • Checks EGO at the door.


Finally, it’s critical to recognize the intense time commitment corporate board service requires  — we recommend that you plan on at least 250 to 300 hours per year for a public company board seat.  Private boards and start-up boards’ time commitments can range significantly from less to more than this estimate.

Are you Board-Ready now?