Find an Advisory Board for your Career
Ignite your career change with an advisory board to help you identify blind spots and uncover opportunities you may not have considered.
Advisory boards can help with:
- A promotion
- An industry change
- A board opportunity
- Interviewing for a job
- Attracting investors to your business
- Helping you get back into the labor market after selling your company
Our experience with boards
In the early days of Westgate (formerly Word Right Career), I had the good fortune to benefit from an advisory board when I was conducting primary market research for our business plan. It was a one-time event that was moderated by a talented facilitator, similar to a focus group.
There were six people (unknown to me) from various industries, including two national professional service firms, a media broadcaster and a few others.
I came away with significant amendments to the plan, but what was most helpful were the perspectives of others who had faced many of the same challenges. I have a new advisory board now that meets monthly and is one of the best investments I’ve made. You can do the same.
Candid feedback on your career or business plan
The moderator recorded the session and each person on the panel gave me specific feedback on the business plan. For three hours, there were no phone calls or breaks and 100% attention was given to our business plan. I have the recording safely stored on our network and I listen to it from time to time. I’m very pleased to report that I achieved 100% of the goals in the plan (albeit not as quickly as I had planned). One of the participants (a national professional service firm CEO) exclaimed that it was the most detailed business plan he had ever read.
How to choose your advisory board
Identify between 4 and 6 people (not friends or family) from various functions and industries, depending on your situation. You can establish the advisory board as a one-time event or ongoing, choosing a cadence that makes sense. Quarterly or bi-annually is the most common schedule for your advisory board. Offering an honorarium or other compensation will demonstrate your commitment to your goals and signal to the board that you value their time and expertise. You can also join a paid advisory board, like I did, which meets monthly and helps to vet ideas and limiting beliefs you may harbor in your career. Advisory boards can help you to achieve your goals faster and with more confidence.
When job interviews don’t close
In my experience coaching thousands of executives through the interview process, the number-one issue I see is that the client is personally vested in the outcome of the interview. Because your family’s welfare rests on the outcome, there is a lot at stake.
When you approach this important meeting from the perspective of the employer, you take the pressure off you personally. Using your leadership skills (influence and persuasion), along with the rich achievements you’ve achieved is the perspective that is most effective and what the decision-maker cares about primarily.
Similar to a business case that you’ve presented to your executive committee time and again, your job now is to demonstrate your ROI for the employer. What challenge is it that you’re delivering to the employer? How will you help them make money, save money or solve a problem? What do you know about their customers, their investors, their products and services? What do you know about their deepest challenges and how does your experience fit?
Choose neutral and objective board members
To be most effective, It is important that your advisory board is neutral and objective (no friends or family). They will provide you with unbiased advice and help you to consider opportunities and strategies you may not have previously considered. If you have been unsuccessful interviewing for a new opportunity, the board can help to brainstorm areas of challenge or blind spots (Are you making this deadly interview mistake?).
Sector, functional or industry changes
Job interviews are especially tricky when you’re trying to change careers or functions (from finance to marketing, for example) or to change industries (sales to supply chain management, for example). As a CEO, moving from retail services to energy services may be a challenge. Even a market re-entry can pose obstacles when you have an established network working in your favor. A market re-entry may be moving from the supply side to the manufacturing side of an industry. It may also be a move back into the labor market after you have sold your business.
Board of directors’ opportunities for publicly traded or private boards
As a CTO or CEO with decades of industry experience, your insights will be attractive to public and private boards of directors. An example of such expertise is data protection for customer information. Your experience mitigating risk in your organization by creating robust protocols for data integrity will be attractive to organizations facing risk in this area.
Identify individuals in the targeted functions, industries and companies who can use your expertise.
It could be that you were recruited to your organization as the COO to prepare for the CEO position as part of the organization’s succession planning process to establish continuity in leadership. This is an ideal opportunity to engage with an advisory board as you prepare for the corner office. According to “Worldwide Changes in CEO Succession” (Conference Board of Canada, December 2016), “…the board is now driving CEO succession planning and the strong preference for internal candidates means the board needs to ensure there are viable internal candidates being developed.”
An advisory board of private equity operating partners can help to identify potential investors to your business. Many of these individuals lead business turnarounds and how to perform in a weakening market. Their market insights are golden, and they will point you to the right resources. In this scenario, you may need to invest a premium amount to garner the industry insider’s perspective on your business in your market. However, you can save valuable time by making such an investment.
Returning to the labor market
After you sell your business, especially if you’ve had a solid tenure (decades perhaps), a re-entry to the labor market can be tricky. Business decision-makers may hesitate to onboard a former business owner for many reasons.
One reason is leadership. A former owner may pose a perceived threat to the employer because the employer fears a business owner is accustomed to making all of the decisions and may resist the direction of the new employer. This is underestimated by the candidate and I’ve witnessed this phenomenon many times.
In fact, I see this phenomenon from both perspectives—because I currently coach executives and business owners on this topic and I’ve also recruited for executives on behalf of these organizations. An advisory board can help to identify opportunities, strategies and help with messaging. The key question that needs to be addressed is: “Why did you sell your company and why do you want to work for us?” This answer will be closely vetted by the CEO and his or her board of directors.
Leaning on your professional community (paid or in kind) can help to propel your job search, attract investors or change industries faster. According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), 86% of organizations saw an ROI on their coaching engagements, and 96% of those who had an Executive Coach said they would repeat the process again. The advisory board can serve as a power coaching team and help you land in your destination faster.
At the Westgate family, we work on your career while you’re working in it. We help executives and business owners raise visibility and position them for sustainable career success doing meaningful work that aligns with their values.
If the time is right and you’re thinking about making a career change, get in touch with us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Maureen, you are the reason I’m in my new position. Thanks for helping me make a great first impression!”
– Michael H. | Gordon Ramsay Steakhouse | Las Vegas, NV
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