A board of directors is not the same as a strategic advisory board.

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vestricsI recently joined the Vestrics strategic advisory board.

Vestrics is a recognized leader and innovator in learning analytics and big data. I am very honored to partner with brilliant and successful leaders who are interested in the future of human capital and analytics.

Forgive me if you already know this, but for those of you who don’t, here is a quick (and incomplete) lesson on the difference between a board of directors and a strategic advisory board.

  • A board of directors is ultimately responsible for governing a corporation or a not-for-profit organization. They are responsible and accountable for everything from compliance to compensation.
  • An advisory board can be similar in prestige, but a strategic advisory board is consulted and informed on issues. This type of board is used to offer advice to key leaders. Strategic advisory board members are not governing members.

Many people want to know how they can accelerate their careers. I say that joining a board of some kind is the best way to go.

For starters, you can look to the not-for-profit world. I joined a board of directors and helped to run a local animal rescue with an annual operating budget of $150,000. In my mediocre career as a Human Resources lady, I would never have P&L responsibility that size because HR is a “cost center” and not a profit-generating center. So I jumped at the chance to learn how an organization governs itself and raises money.

(Boy, did I learn!)

If you don’t want to govern and run an organization, a not-for-profit strategic advisory board might be for you. Many not-for-profit organizations would love to land someone who is passionate, devoted and committed to a cause.

Are you interested in the welfare of children? Are you concerned about poverty and homelessness? Do you want to help returning veterans get back to work? Not-for-profits would kill for business expertise within their organizations.

If you want real business experience, a for-profit strategic advisory board might be more appropriate. Think about local businesses in your area. What can you offer? How can you help a small business owner achieve profitability or exceed revenue goals? Get involved in your Chamber of Commerce. Attend luncheons hosted by local associations. Make great business connections. And when an opportunity presents itself to form a relationship, ask to take it to the next level.

Finally, if you have the aptitude, fight like hell to join a real board of directors. We need more women, men with progressive ideals, and people of color to represent the interests of a changing demographic landscape in America. If you work in Human Resources and want to learn more about joining a for-profit board of directors, talk to China Gorman.

But first things first. Take a look at the opportunities in your area and understand the difference between a board of directors and a strategic advisory board. And good luck on the next stage of your awesome career!

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