Board Savvy November 20, 2018

Preparing for the Next Level of Leadership: Your Board Package

By The Athena Alliance

There’s no way around it: interviewing and preparing for board directorship is tricky. It goes against convention. It’s a wild card by nature: it may be formal, or it may look more like a series of casual conversations. It may feel almost serendipitous at the time—the phone calls, the handshakes, the meetings. Or it could be a process that takes years to unfold. This is why we refer to members’ paths to board directorship as a journey. Because it’s personal, it’s unpredictable, and it usually takes you on a windy path versus a straight line to the top.

The journey-nature of the board interview process underscores the importance of what we call your Board Package. And really, it’s an essential tool for all executive women, even those who are not aspiring for board directorship. The Board Package consists of all the key elements that you’ll need as you make connections, interview for a board director position, or simply prepare for the next level of your career. A Board Package includes a bio, a resume, an elevator pitch and updates to your personal LinkedIn page. Each of these elements speaks to your board-readiness. They integrate with each other and work together to present the absolute best version of you.

Your Board Package Coaches:

Adriana Azuri is our in-house Board Package mastermind. She leads a team of writers that work with each and every Athena Alliance member, one-on-one, to form a customized Board Package.

She’s good at what she does—she brings more than 18 years of executive writing to our organization. Her career began as a technical writer, where she honed her skills working in heavily male-dominated industries. Technical writing also shaped her skill for capturing and communicating details. Effectively positioning executives for their next career moves: it’s what she does best.

“When I engage with members, I engage them based on the totality of the value they deliver to a board,” she says. “We want to convey through writing what they bring to the table. What is their wheelhouse?”

Adriana starts with the Resume or “CV”. She works with whatever materials members provide her. This may mean a resume simply needs a solid edit, or it may mean a barebones LinkedIn profile. Through a discovery process, she asks Athena members detailed questions about their career and experience.

“I need to know—very specifically—what is the budget she delivers to? What are her revenue goals? How many people does she manage? I narrow down to the specific business achievements. I want everything metrics-driven.”

This process takes time. It may take four to six weeks, or it could be a few months. Adriana will move at the pace you move. It’s a back-and-forth process of sharing information, reviewing several drafts, and working through the documents with an eye for perfection.

“Through this process of discovering about a member’s career, I can tell you who they are and what value they deliver or have delivered. I then outline a member’s overall career achievements to bring out the best of the best. It’s crystal clear to me who they are and what their strengths are.”

Adriana uses the resume as the foundation for the entire Board Package process. Once the resume is complete, she’s able to craft a Board Bio. This takes all the accomplishments in the resume and puts them in a narrative format. In parallel, she’ll update the member’s LinkedIn profile. The goal: everything should mirror each other and work together to portray our members as the powerhouse female executives that they are.

And finally, Adriana crafts an Elevator Pitch. She pulls out key accomplishments from a member’s resume— quantifiable achievements, specific examples—and uses them to create a totally custom elevator pitch. This is for members’ eyes only. Think of it as a personal script or advertisement for your leadership talent: it’s two to three sentences that take about 45 seconds to say.

‘Show me the money’

Adriana offers a unique perspective not just on resume-building, but on the psychology of positioning yourself to others as a top leader.

“One of the most common things I see women doing in their bios and resumes is that they don’t have the numbers. Instead, women tend to speak in attributes and adjectives. I’m this type of leader or that type of leader. But instead, they should be adding numbers and metrics to everything. Show me the money.”

The same goes for the Elevator Pitch. “It may be a confidence thing. It may be a culture thing. It may be a generational thing,” she said. “For example, one client felt like she was boasting in her resume. But then she had a meeting with a CEO and she noticed all the questions were related to money—revenue, sales. She realized the power of the Elevator Pitch and her Resume, and she was so glad she had them.”

Give CEOs and boards what they’re looking for

Adriana has worked with dozens of male executives throughout her career. She knows how they present themselves, how they speak, and how they talk about their achievements. They are confident, clear and commanding in speaking about their experience, accomplishments and what they can contribute to that next opportunity whether it’s a job position or a board of director role.

“Women need to get to that point,” she said. “Or the next Board seat will be a man. And it’s not that they’re not capable, it’s that they didn’t say what they did in their careers. This is not a time to be bashful.”

The first step to getting there? Your Board Package.