The Path to your first Corporate Board Role, Part II: Research – by Mary Francia

In part one of this series, we looked at the preparation required to position yourself for a potential Board role. So, what comes next? 

The next step on your Board journey is doing your research on the Boards you’re interested in. All too often, senior executives contact me to find out more about joining “a Board.” which is like asking to join “a company” where doing some in-depth research will help you along the path.  

For a start, there are different types of Boards – seed / early stage, later stage, private, public, non-profit, and advisory – each has board members’ expectations and qualifications to support its operating procedures, challenges, and liabilities. 

A start-up or early-stage company, for example, typically expects its Board members to contribute their knowledge and network – things like how to turn an emergent technology into a business plan or how to court investors and where to go to find them. 

Public boards, meanwhile, expect directors to be stewards of the company’s long-term strategy, advisors to the CEO, monitors of company performance, and public faces for the company. 

It is critical to understand these differences to determine which Boards are most attractive to you – and where you can provide the most value. This will shape the experience and determine the skills you decide to develop as you prepare to join your first Board. 

And as part of that exploration, you will learn how they align with your values and culture and build your target list by industry, region, and type.  

Following this approach means that once you are ready to look for a Board position it is possible to contextualize your value to each type of Board in your target list and keep your search tight, focused, and strategic.


Look out for our third part of this series, detailing how to work with your network and tailoring your profile to the board roles of interest.


If you missed part one of the series, you may read it here, and please feel free to contact me directly should you wish to discuss anything from this piece (or anything else) further.

Mary Francia is a partner at HIEC. She regularly helps companies map their talent and use that information to better plan their workforce, attract the right people and increase retention and engagement amongst existing staff. To find out more about how she can help your company do that, too, contact her directly, email