Five tips to building a portfolio career

Five tips to building a portfolio career

Published 28th May 2018 by By Jon Hottot, Principal Consultant, Davidson Executive & Boards

tips to building a portfolio careerThere is no reason your dream of having a portfolio career can’t start now — or at the very least, your preparation for one.

Here are our top five tips to paving the way for a portfolio career.

1. Be honest with yourself

Be clear about what you want from this next stage of your working life, including being honest with yourself about what you want to do and are prepared to do, where your skills, experience and interests lie and what you have to offer as a board member.

Paul Lahiff, chair of both the NPP Australia and Retail Finance Intelligence (RFi) since 2013 and a standing member of three other boards said working towards a collective ideal and an intellectual challenge were strong motivators for him.

‘You need to have a really hard discussion with yourself about why you want to do this,’ Lahiff said. ‘Unless you have a few really well-defined reasons, you will not be convincing at an interview and you’re probably not going to be confident in yourself.

2. Work towards the goal

Lahiff, who has spent 40 years in the financial services sector, said boards were most impressed by the breadth and depth of an individual’s experience.

‘Directors and CEOs tell me that the fact I have been a CEO is valuable because you know the types of pressure they can be under,’ he said. ‘Be involved with as many opportunities as you can, that hopefully will provide you with some good experience and maybe a little bit of scar tissue in dealing with boards.’

3. Unapologetically network

Lahiff said many people don’t realise ‘there is a lot of gold in their contact lists’.

He said he advises anyone looking to build a portfolio career to print off their contact list, go through it with a marker and highlight those people who can help you get the board positions you want.

4. Get the word out

The best way to secure positions on company boards is to make sure people know that’s what you want.

‘I let my networks know that I was interested in pursuing opportunities,’ Lahiff explained. ‘I have had phone calls out of left field from search firms I didn’t really know about before.

‘But I also didn’t just sit and wait for calls. Ninety per cent of the effort comes back to the individual and how well they determine and develop an action plan about how they’re going to go about doing it.

5. Be seen: Build your profile

An audit of your personal brand is always a useful exercise and never more so than when you are planning your next career move. Are you writing blogs, posting on LinkedIn, attending industry events, putting yourself forward as a speaker at conferences, or even volunteering in the sector you want to represent at a board level?

Your chances of being selected for a board position in a sector where you have a high, positive profile in are much higher than if you are a relative unknown — in most cases.

Having a portfolio career takes planning, patience and perseverance. The time to start is now.

This blog was originally published by the Governance Institute of Australia. To read the original blog click here.