Boardrooms today face new, evolving challenges that are increasingly complex to navigate, and they are under immense pressure and scrutiny to operate at maximum effectiveness. In the wake of volatile global economic conditions (which show no signs of stabilizing), growing pressure from regulators, and complex demands from shareholders, Boards need to be thoughtfully composed, so they can thrive today, achieve their future goals, and understand the levers they can pull to be more impactful and make a greater contribution to the overall effectiveness of the Board.

With that in mind, when it comes time to search for new Board Directors, Boards must partner with an elite board executive search firm. Leading executive search firms provide unparalleled support to a Board of Directors during their search, rigorously work to deeply understand exactly what type of placement can elevate the Board, and tirelessly support it as it works to achieve future goals.

Here’s how a global executive search firm can ultimately allow a Board to operate at its peak performance and empower it to realize its most ambitious goals.

What do executive board search firms do?

To understand how critical executive board search firms are for elevating and empowering Boards, it’s crucial to understand exactly what they do. Executive board search firms work as a Board’s trusted partner to identify highly qualified candidates who can maximize the effectiveness of the entire Board. But the way global executive search firms execute this process is precise, specialized, and leads to elite results that are challenging to match otherwise. This process is also far more productive and effective than how boards typically handled placements in decades past.

  1. First, executive Board search firms analyze the composition of the current Board to gain a deep understanding and insight into exactly what the Board is like today. This includes identifying what each individual Board Director brings to the table and what skills and experience they have. This also includes understanding the current Board’s weaknesses and where a new member can bring valuable experience that fills critical gaps.
  2. Then, the executive board search firm seeks out highly qualified candidates through a robust and targeted search process. In the past, Boards might have relied on personal references with previous Board experience to nominate directors. But elite executive board search firms conduct a vigorous search to find diverse candidates who fit the desired profile of a member who will maximize board effectiveness.
  3. When qualified candidates are identified, executive board search firms don’t stop there. They stand by the organization and the Board to support the interview process and work to vet candidates.
  4. Lastly, executive Board search firms will prepare materials to support the board ratification process. This might include things such as preparing documents for a formal vote on the new Board Director.

Ultimately, executive Board search firms aren’t interested in simply “hiring” or finding a candidate that checks all the boxes. This executive hiring strategy generates transparency in the process for both potential candidates and the Board, which enables the Board to select a candidate who is most impactful, and contributes leaps and bounds to the organization.

Why a board executive search firm is important

Who is on a Board might be the most critical factor in determining how a Board can perform its duties today and if it can achieve its future goals.

Here are three of the main reasons why a Board search firm is so critical to a Board’s success:

1. Their placements maximize Board effectiveness

First and foremost, a Board search firm operates with one goal in mind: placing new Board Directors who help the Board maximize its effectiveness. They go beyond checking resumes and candidate qualifications. Instead, they’re working as a Board’s trusted partner who deeply understands the structure of the Board and the organization, as well as the vision, goals, and focus of the Board long term. This rich knowledge, along with their elite and rigorous candidate search abilities, allows them to identify potential board directors who are incredibly valuable to the Board.

2. Their process is transparent

In decades past, Board search placements were far from transparent, often leading to the best candidates being passed on. Typically, Boards would identify qualified executives or Board Directors who they already know and would rank these candidates. After the ranking process, the candidates would be looked at in descending order. This means that if the first candidate checked all of the boxes, the rest of the candidates would not be considered.

This process doesn’t only neglect to consider candidates effectively; it’s also incredibly closed. Combined, this sort of board search process can lead to ill-suited placements who are not adding immense value to the Board.

3. They help future-proof the Board

The most effective and successful Boards operate with the future of the Board and overall organization in mind. Of course, this is far easier said than done, especially when it comes to the complex challenges that Boards are facing today. For Boards to “expect the unexpected” and be prepared for untold future challenges, there needs to be cognitive diversity (which is shown to “significantly enhance” Board performance). This is only possible through precise Board placements done through the work of a board search firm.

A brief look into our board search process

We know precisely how powerful board search firms are and how robust the board search process is because we have a lengthy track record of handling highly complex and critical Board placements.

At N2Growth, we’ve created a completely unique retained search experience, leading to placed Board candidates with a level of speed and precision that no other retained search firm can match.
Here is a preview of what makes our board search experience so powerful:

Step 1: Discovery and Synthesis

During discovery, N2Growth will work vigorously to assess and deeply understand the composition of the current Board, and identify precisely what experience each Board Director brings to the table.

Step 2: Candidate Development

Next, top candidates are continuously sourced until the search is closed. We look beyond the base qualifications and skills requirements to match candidates who fit in the company’s culture and are skillfully additive to the Board that might have been otherwise difficult to identify.

Step 3: Client Interviews

After candidates are identified, the next step of Board recruitment is an introduction to qualified candidates for the initial interview stage. This is typically a collaborative process, where N2Growth supports our partner in conducting an effective and seamless interview experience.

Step 4: Assessment and evaluation with candidates

A key component of effective Board recruitment is the assessment and evaluation stage. We go to great lengths to support your evaluation of Board candidates through assessments, debriefs, and extensive verifications and checks for finalist candidates.

Step 5: Supporting Documents for the Board Ratification

In the final step of board recruitment, we prepare materials to support the board ratification process, including documents for a formal vote on the new Board Director, supplemental materials for AGMs, and final shareholder approval. Additionally, we help present the terms of the board engagement, including board fees and equity.

How a Board Search Firm Can Support Organizations

While partnering with an executive Board search firm is incredibly beneficial for the Boards themselves, this partnership is also extremely valuable for organizations.

Here’s how a board search firm can support the entire organization:

Facilitate more diverse Boards

Boardroom diversity is far from just a corporate buzzword. Board composition is rapidly becoming more diverse, particularly when it comes to women and historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Diverse Boards can lead to incredibly valuable diverse perspectives (the importance of which we touched on earlier), which better represent the organization, its shareholders, and its mission.

Plus, data is increasingly making the case for Board diversity, with research showing that “diverse teams outperform their peers” and that companies with diverse leadership report more revenue.

Recruit based on desired leadership structure

When it comes to recruiting a Board Chair, board search firms can help organizations consider their current Board Leadership Structure and align toward a more effective model for the future of the organization. A board search firm can provide support in identifying if an organization is moving to an independent chair, an executive chair, a combined CEO/chair, to lead/presiding director, or moving to the non-independent chair. These different leadership development structures require different guidance, which board search firms can provide to positively impact the recruitment process.

Enable seamless ratifications

The board search process doesn’t end once a board candidate is found. Board search firms can help ensure seamless ratification processes by preparing materials such as documents for the formal vote and supplemental materials for AGMs and final shareholder approval. Board search firms can also help present the terms of the board engagement, including board fees and equity.

How N2Growth can help you

When you’re looking for a new Board Director, we understand that you’re not just looking to fill a seat. N2Growth has a proven track record of finding perfect-fit Board Directors for our partners. Here’s how:

Traditional search reimagined (Our Approach)

The N2Growth approach is different and completely reimagines the traditional executive search strategy. We pair best-in-class research capabilities with an internal commitment to cutting-edge technology and product development. That’s how we deliver exceptional results, time and time again, and why we’ve been named to the Forbes list of Best Executive Recruiting Firms for six consecutive years, ranking in the Top 10.

Diversity Commitment

We’re not only deeply committed to Boardroom diversity but know that it’s central to a Board’s present and future success. We find candidates who don’t only meet technical and professional requirements but who represent the diverse knowledge and experience that can best benefit the Board.


N2Growth has had the opportunity to partner with some of the greatest companies in the world. We have vast experience working with clients in industries such as:

  • Agriculture, energy & natural resources
  • Business & professional services
  • Consumer
  • Education, government & non-profits
  • Financial services
  • Healthcare & life sciences
  • Industrials
  • Private equity & principal investors
  • Technology, media & telecommunications

Partnering with a Board Search Firm for Recruiting Board Directors

Finding world-class board candidates requires an elite approach from an experienced executive Board search firm. If you’re looking to find your next perfect-match Board Director, we’re here to support you. Talk to one of our executive search experts today, and see how N2Growth can support your organization.