I’ve been a big-company guy for all of my 25+ year career. I’ve worked for three well-known MegaCorporations and learned a lot about the world of big business. As I approach my early retirement next year, I have been thinking about how I will “replace” the involvement & passion I have for the world of business.
I’m proud now to say that I’ve now been able to secure an appointment to a corporate board as an independent director for a good-sized, family-owned, manufacturing company in another state.
This had been a goal of mine for the last 5 years – to segue from everyday work into an interesting board assignment where I could continue to leverage my big company know-how. To build my resume, I took career-broadening roles
at MegaCorp, I spoke at conferences & universities to build credentials, and took on a two year role as chairman of a non-profit board for a major community organization.
A board role at a private company is basically a high-level consulting job that allows you to be engaged at the most senior level in an organization. The work is just a day or two each quarter when there are board meetings. Unlike consulting assignments, it comes with a retainer and three year term with the opportunity to really get to know a business in some depth. I’m already seeing that the challenges a SmallCorp faces in driving growth are every bit as real & meaty as the challenges of big business at MegaCorp.
The opportunity came together pretty quickly once I started looking & networking. Starting last fall, I met with friends and former colleagues that did corporate board work. Some of these folks serve on boards at very big public companies that pay very well, but are governed by public corporation regulations. Others were involved in smaller, private companies that are looking for board members to bring in outside expertise and serve as a peer advisor to senior management. The latter was positioned as a good place for me to start, and pretty quickly I was interviewing for a role with a board search firm.
It took a few months to interview and I traveled once to SmallCorp’s HQ – flying in on their corporate plane to the midwestern resort area they are based in. All-in-all the “courtship” phase went smoothly and an offer was made. Unfortunately, the biggest stumbling block was actually getting approval from my current MegaCorp employer – which took almost two months. There weren’t any specific issues – just corporate policy requirements that needed to be addressed. Thankfully, my MegaCorp boss helped get everything properly discussed and signed-off.
My first board meeting is in a few weeks, so I guess I now have a MegaCorp and a SmallCorp to talk about in future posts. The role also comes with some pay & travel, so that will be welcome fun money and a change of scenery in early retirement.
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