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Why being on a board is good for your career: A Professional Networking Event
Fiona Hathorn, Managing Director of Women on Boards joined us as at our fifth SHSK Society Professional Networking Event in London.
Fiona Hathorn, Managing Director of Women on Boards joined us as guest speaker for our fifth SHSK Society Professional Networking Event in London. Alumnae and current St Helen’s mums at various stages of their careers gathered at our fabulous venue in the City. The theme for the evening was ‘Why being on a board is good for your career’.
Fiona is CEO of Women on Boards UK and a Patron of the Charity Fight for Sight. She is a former investment director for Old Mutual Asset Management and Hill Samuel Asset Management. Alongside running Women on Boards UK Fiona advises the stockbroker Peel Hunt and is a Judge for the Non-Executive Director Awards, sponsored by The Sunday Times.
With her vast breadth of experience Fiona ably advised the gathered audience during her talk: ‘The 7 Reasons why being on a board is good for your career’. Fiona explained that adding a board or committee appointment to your CV is a sure way of drawing attention and validating your capabilities, whilst catapulting your career up the ladder of success. Individuals that join boards - even of very small organisations - are able to use their experience and technical skills to influence an organisation, whilst at the same time gaining exposure to a wide range of issues from the perspective of a director and building confidence, expertise and networks.
Some of the misconceptions surrounding board membership were dismissed during the evening. Fiona explained that we shouldn’t just think of board membership as being linked to a top FTSE company; just as much experience can be gained by joining a local community group or charity as a trustee or in an advisory capacity. She also stressed that you are never too young to join a board. Fiona herself was sitting on a board by her early twenties.
Each of the 7 reasons were explored during the evening:
It will give you a point of difference on your CV which will make you a stand out candidate when applying for a new role or promotion.
You will gain knowledge on the industry by being exposed to a diverse range of issues from the perspective of a board member. Fiona gave an example of a student at university who sat on the board of a college sports society. The range of transferable skills and knowledge gained was vast.
This in turn, builds leadership skills and expertise.
Joining a board indicates to management or clients that you are interested and engaged in your community at a leadership level.
If you need to take a career break at any stage, a directorship can give you continuity on your CV. It will help you maintain professional contacts and could provide you with the confidence to re-enter the workforce more easily after a significant break.
Directorships improve career resilience and provide strategic understanding of workforce dynamics
It gives you the chance to explore the idea of a post-executive board career
A lively Q&A session followed with Old Girls clearly want to know more about the practicalities of board membership. When asked how much time commitment was required to be a fully engaged board member, Fiona explained that it varies hugely. It could be around 40 days a year for a FTSE company, 12 for the NHS, 8 for a charity, but mostly, meetings are held in the evening. She explained that whilst it is a time commitment, if you want to do it you will find the time. ‘Women run marathons and find the time to train so this should not deter you!’
A show of hands in the room indicated that quite a few of our Old Girls are already on boards. During the subsequent networking session it was clear that others would consider joining a board in the near future. Our Old Girls found the evening very useful:
‘A very inspiring speaker, I have been telling everyone I have met since then all about it. Was very nice to reconnect with St Helen’s again’