Linkedin Twitter  YouTube

How do I become a board member?

I get this question regularly. In fact, every week there are training courses everywhere, filled with participants who all want a Board role.


What is it not?


There is clearly much more supply than demand for board jobs. A number of people see a Board membership as an attractive side job. They see it as something not too complicated, but still a serious job, without the day-to-day executive pressure, well paid and it confirms their ego. And these are all precisely the wrong motivations.


So what is it?


A lot has changed in the supervision of companies and organisations. An effective board member serves the organisation she oversees, is truly independent, adds tangible value, is communicative and speaks up. An effective Board member only has a limited number of board roles and invests time to get to know the company well.


What can you do?


Start to increase your visibility, but take a subtle approach. For example, start by gaining supervisory experience in a not-for-profit environment. It is often a bit easier to start off as a volunteer and also allows you to give back to society. Build up your supervisory career step by step. Let them experience your added value, so that word of mouth can do its work. Secondly: during your active career, choose as many roles as possible where you can really prove yourself and build up a large and relevant network. Companies like to have board members who have an interesting network for them. On average, most companies prefer to have a well-connected, more or less well-known ex-CEO or entrepreneur on their board. Whether or not you think that is right is not relevant here.


What is your reputation?


Being sought after is the result of decades of experience and real achievements. Do you really know what your reputation is? You simply cannot influence this in the short term.


Two final pieces of advice


  1. Be cautious before you invest in a Board course. Pay close attention to your expectations. Companies are not very interested in whether someone has a ‘board member diploma'.
  2. Don't chase your headhunters too much with your request. At the end of the day, the market will come to you because of the value you add, your network and your reputation. My experience is that it doesn't make much sense if you have to ask very actively for these positions.



Hopefully this will inspire you.




Paul Donkers

Partner tèn company



Want to learn more about our CEO Whispering programmes? Take a look here or send us an email via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a confidential conversation.


tèn company, since 2009, and also here for you during this pandemic

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

Share this column: