Consulting + Board Member = A Leveraged Career

17 Mar 2018 | Career

You’re in your mid 40s or early 50s – you’re a senior executive and great at what you do, but a little voice in the back of your head is wondering what the next step should be.

You’re considering exploring the job market, and that’ll be a short term fix to continue your career, perhaps as CEO or senior exec of a larger organisation, but you’re curious about where your career should be heading over the next 10 – 20 years.

In a nutshell, executives often choose a combination of becoming a:

  1. Consultant
  2. Business Owner
  3. Board Member

One of the most popular choices is to become a Consultant and then look at joining 2 or 3 boards. Consulting is the way the world of work is heading. In fact, by 2020, 50% of the Australian workforce will be working under their own ABN – as a consultant or contractor. As you probably know, the benefits of becoming a board member, are that:

  1. you are challenged at a higher level,
  2. you get added exposure in your industry,
  3. you get extra credibility and
  4. your network of connections increases exponentially
  5. you attract great gigs for your consulting business.

But Why Start Thinking about Your Board Career Now?

It’s a well-known fact that most peoples’ financial security is created in the last 10 years of their working life. They’ve finished paying school fees, the mortgage is manageable and they’ve peaked in their salary earnings. They now have a 5 – 10 year window to build the foundation and capitalise on the final 20 years of their working life. If this is where you are at right now, this is your opportunity to set yourself up for a great board career.

If you’re planning on becoming a non executive director, you need to put the appropriate plans in place to maximise all the effort and work you’ll be putting in over the next decade.

I suggest you focus on two areas to prepare for this exciting second stage of your career. The first one is financial, it’s about protecting the assets you already have, and structuring them effectively so you have sufficient cashflow while building your board portfolio. The second focus is to acquire skills needed to be effective around the boardroom table and build key relationships that will help you generate a steady flow of new opportunities for the next 20 years, or until you decide to retire altogether.

Ideally the preparation should happen years in advance of transitioning from a full time corporate career.

Here’s 5 Steps to Make a Smooth Move into a Board Role

  1. Visualise your leveraged career and plan how much money you need to generate from your consulting, contracting and director fees. Factor in all the expenses around the life you want (European holidays, gym memberships etc). Ensure you put away 10 – 15% of your income to cover these expenses while you build your portfolio, starting today!
  2. Build your online presence and start to expand your network, so if you were made redundant in 3 month’s time, you know people who’ll be able to help you.
  3. Contact the Australian Institute of Company Directors and enrol into the Company Directors Course.
  4. Join a Not for Profit, Community, Sporting or School Board to gain experience in corporate governance, and demonstrate the value you bring on a strategic level.
  5. Decouple yourself from your employer so you don’t have all your money locked up in company shares, and aren’t too reliant on company insurance etc.