Advancing Executive Development September 5, 2019

Ask Athena: What is the Difference Between a Board CV and an Executive CV?

By The Athena Alliance

Here at Athena, we like to say, “What got you here (to this point in your career) won’t get you into the boardroom.” This applies to everything—the way you present yourself, how you speak to your unique value, your reputation, your executive presence, even your voice. 

The same goes for your Board CV and Board Bio. The executive resume you’ve held for the past several years will not get you into the boardroom. This is why each aspiring director member at Athena meets with our team of professional executive writers. Our writers work with you to learn your career story, drill down to what you do better than anyone else, and frame it in a way that appeals to boards of directors and CEOs. 

But what exactly is a Board CV?

As an executive, your resume is crammed with accomplishments. This falls in line with the resume framework you’ve been taught to work within as you’ve risen through the ranks. Executive management resumes tend to rattle off lists of what you’ve done, how you’ve moved the needle, and the specific impact you’ve made at each company you’ve worked at. 

On the other hand, a Board CV presents your full career history through the lens of a board. It positions you as a strategic and experienced leader and collaborator, ready to guide and advise a company. It strives to capture a holistic view of who you are, and the strengths and values that you—and only you—can bring to the table.

Keep in mind that Nominations and Governance (Nom/Gov) committees often have unicorn profiles for their future board directors. They typically begin their search for an independent director with a good idea of what background and experience these individuals should have, including company type, size, and industry. They’re not looking for a good operator—they’re seeking a strategic business leader with specific experience that relates to their company goals. Your Board CV is where your holistic career experience and thought leadership must stand out.

A Board CV includes:

  • Your board experience to date, including non-profit and private boards
  • Committee work. Demonstrate that you have experience on committees or experience in work that supports committees, such as finance and strategy.
  • Board interactions. This is especially important for aspiring directors, who haven’t yet secured their first board seat. How can you demonstrate that you’re comfortable working with boards, presenting to boards, and that you understand the boardroom environment?
  • Governance experience. You may not have boardroom experience, but perhaps you have experience making high-stakes decisions, dealing with international markets, or working in a highly regulated industry. All these career experiences “count” as you want to portray that you have served as not just a leader, but as a steward of the business. 

Present yourself as a steward of the business. 

Board CVs elevate your value beyond a list of accomplishments. It’s not about what you did and on what date it happened—it’s about painting a picture of yourself as a transformative leader. For example: 

A Board CV Might Say… An Executive CV Might Say…
I have a record of delivering innovative cybersecurity solutions with emerging technologies. Implemented XYZ technology, saving the company $XXX.
Expert in harnessing technology innovation for massive business growth.  Evaluated new business software and partnered with procurement to onboard new vendors.
Solidified relations with trade organizations to create $XX new business across unexplored markets. Launched product in X new markets.
Took XYZ company public, restructuring financial processes and reporting. Helped to refine financial processes and reporting in preparation for IPO.
A change agent who creates high-performance teams with consistent XX% Y/Y growth.  Grew revenue by X% Y/Y… 

More than a CV

You may have gotten to the executive team with a standard resume. You may not even have a recent resume because, until now, you’ve been fortunate enough to ride on your reputation and network. 

While a polished board CV and bio will create a great first impression when you apply to board opportunities, the value is not just in the finished product but in the process itself. The process helps you learn who you are. You walk away with confidence and conviction. It puts your greatest strengths on paper. It maps out your value proposition in a way that leaves no room for guessing or doubt, laying the foundation for every step in the Athena executive development program.  It allows you to confidently articulate your value, your purpose, and what you (and only you) bring to the table as a leader. 

If you’re going through Athena’s executive development program, a Brand Package is a part of your journey. A Brand Package includes a Board CV, Board Bio, LinkedIn Update, and Value Statements. Our writers spend 16-18 hours behind the scenes, crafting your documents to prepare you for the next phase of your career.

Pioneer members, or experienced board directors, can choose to upgrade to a Brand Package at any time. Simply contact your member success manager, who will connect you to our writers.