Here was my response to the question…
Depending on your firm, your next step may actually be to partner. Some firms use the director role as a career full-stop, whereas some use the director role as a key step towards partnership. Therefore, do ask your partners and HR folk about how they see the director role in the firm.
Becoming a senior manager is a big statement of intent. It is also the time when you DO need to be seriously thinking about your transition for partnership. It’s in this role that you will start to build your personal and business case for partnership.
In order to build your personal and business case for partnership, here are some of the things to be thinking about and researching:
1) If you are going to make partner in the next 5 years, where are the gaps in the partnership going to come from? What skill set or relationships will you need to court to be seen as the person to fill that gap?
2) You will need to build both a personal case and a business case for partnership. I.e. business case = hitting the numbers, personal case = what skills/knowledge/attitude do you bring which will enrich the partnership. Start having the conversations with existing partners now to answer these questions.
3) How many partners outside of your current department know you, like you, rate you – and more importantly, in the closed door partner discussions are rooting for you and your career. Over the next 5 years you need to build your number of cross-firm advocates.
4) Are you able to bring in work now? And more than just winning more work from your existing clients?
5) Do you have enough of the right people in your network to help you make the step to partnership?
6) Can you see yourself working alongside the partners in your current firm? Does this make you excited or fill you with dread?