Reasons to Serve on the PASS Board of Directors

A few weeks back I wrote Some Thoughts on How To Prepare to Serve on the PASS Board of Directors. The responses I heard, especially during the Summit last week, had two themes:
  • Recommending that much preparation will deter many candidates from running/is the bar for serving really that high?
  • What is the value in serving on the Board?
I thought a lot about both of those during the week. I knew when I wrote the post that it could be taken as intimidating or as a road map to success depending on how much energy someone had when they read it. In practice the bar for serving is not that high from a requirements perspective (requirements in the by-laws and the application) though it is higher (varies by year) when it comes to the NomCom evaluation process. So…if the bar is not that high, why suggest that such deep preparation is appropriate? I have two reasons:
  • Encouraging you to run without advocating preparation is just not fair. I want you to have a positive experience from start to finish. Preparation doesn’t guarantee that, but I think it’s a good start. [This is the same view I have with regards to growing new speakers]
  • It’s what the job requires. Board members oversee a organization with a multi-million dollar budget, one that is governed by part time volunteers and managed by a full  time staff, that is dependent on a single source of revenue, and that tries to balance for-profit and not-for-profit goals. It’s a long way from managing servers or even a team of data professionals
If you’re considering running it’s up to you to figure out how much preparation you think is required and how much more if any you want to do. There is more than one path, you have to walk yours! There is also nothing wrong with thinking about “how does this benefit me” – it’s an unpaid commitment that has the potential to impact both work and family due to the time commitments. After that long intro, here are the list of reasons I’d give someone asking “why run”:
  1. Pay it Forward. The best of reasons. You’ve gained in one way or another from the efforts of so many within PASS. Note that I don’t suggest you owe a debt – the contributions that helped you were a gift. Even if you’re content with where PASS is as an org it still needs someone at the wheel.
  2. Change Things. Maybe PASS isn’t as good as you think it should be, or that it could do more, or that it could better serve some segment of the members. Or…whatever. If you see something that needs attention, how better to get it done?
  3. Build New Skills. Regardless of how much you prepare you’re going to learn a lot about getting things done. It’s far harder than just having a good idea! I promise you that these skills will benefit you far beyond your time on the Board.
  4. Power Up Your Resume. Serving on a Board is a big deal. It shows involvement, leadership, interest beyond just the next big technical feature.
  5. Networking. The most concrete item I can offer, you’ll definitely meet a lot of people.
I wish it was a longer list and a more impressive one, but I think it’s fair and accurate. I hope you find it useful. I’ll watch the comments for questions, you can also reach me via LinkedIn.