Stepping stone or executive experience approach?

Which approach is right for you? This needs to be based on your experience, goals and your own road-map for your governance career. Both the stepping-stone and executive experience approach are complementary. You can follow either or both depending on your circumstances. You will probably employ both the executive and the stepping-stone strategies if you are aiming for boards governing national or international organisations.

Stepping-stone approach

This approach involves progressing from governance roles in smaller or less complex organisations to roles in larger or more complex organisations.  

If you already have held board or committee roles you could leverage off this experience to target the boards of larger or more complex organisations.

You may be looking for your first governance role, in which case you could target ‘entry-level’ governance roles, e.g. those boards attached to small organisations that operate at a local or regional level.

Taking a leadership role in your professional association or a role on the registration/disciplinary bodies for your profession (such as the Medical Council) is another way into governance. These boards can serve as an entry point e.g. an engineer with little to no governance experience may be able to serve on the Chartered Professional Engineers Council. (See New Zealand Boards for more information.)

Executive experience approach

This approach involves developing a successful professional career that can be applied to board roles. Success in the following areas will give you useful expertise to apply as a board director, as well as profile and reputation:

  • proven experience and successes in Chief Executive or second tier management roles
  • working in areas where you have profit-and-loss responsibilities for the organisation.