Playing an active role in the success of another organisation can be very beneficial to your career.
Whether you’re currently seeking a new challenge, diversifying your portfolio career or contemplating a staged route to retirement, this could be a great time to explore non-executive director roles.
As a non-executive director, you’ll have an opportunity to help steer a company in the right direction, helping them to be profitable, perform to an optimum level and have a strategic plan for the future.
It’s not about running the organisation but making sure it’s well run. Protecting its reputation and credibility. Enabling its future growth. Facilitating success and supporting the board. This leads to positive gains all round. One NED described the decision to join a board as “one of the more purposeful things I have done in my life.”
According to recent research by a global leadership consultancy, people are motivated by three things: personal development; the opportunity for new experiences; and the desire to make a contribution.
For example, one of the directors featured in the report, who came from an entrepreneurial background saw involvement with a board as a unique opportunity to learn from others more experienced than herself:
“I could see I would be amongst inspirational people and that I would be exposed to not just a different sector but a different culture and way of doing business.”
Over the last few years, there has been a drive to get more women into non-executive director roles – and it’s working. A report by the Cranfield School of Management revealed that the percentage of female NEDs for the FTSE 100 is at an all-time high of 35.4%.
Many of the non-executive directors we’ve coached and supported tell us that contributing to the growth, strategy and evolution of a business is incredibly rewarding.
So what are the benefits of taking on a Non-Executive Director role?
* Extra source of income
* Ideal way to channel your years of experience to help other organisations
* Not a full-time commitment: a non-executive director role sits comfortably with a portfolio career
* Opportunity to contribute fresh insights and ideas and boost reputation and credibility
How do I make it happen?
You’ll need to be commercially astute and have an understanding of top-level decision-making.
Your experience – often from a background in the financial sector – will help challenge and develop proposals on strategy.
This is a role where personal traits count: being smart, supportive, objective yet engaged, curious, challenging and clear-sighted; able to manage – and defuse – conflict; offering sound judgment and conviction with highly developed emotional intelligence.
What about time commitment and remuneration?
This can vary but is likely to be 15 to 25 days a year. Tenure tends to hover around the 4-year mark with the average non-executive retainer at £68,277.
Regardless of industry, every board needs to have a balance of skills, experience and knowledge.
A good starting point is to have a conversation with the non-execs on the board of where you currently work and find out how they got there.
“A wise Board accumulates rational wisdom, embraces unconventional wisdom and sharpens system wisdom.”Pearl Zhu, Digitizing Boardroom: The Multifaceted Aspects of Digital Ready Boards
The key to landing the right non-executive director role is to exploit your business network in the here and now. Look outwards, see where your expertise might be of value and foster connections.
Remember that under UK corporate governance code, non-executive directors should not have had a “material business relationship” with the company whose board they want to join. So it’s a good idea to stretch your search. You could even make it personal by including charities or causes that mean something to you.
You’ll want to carry out your own due diligence, too. Do I really understand the business model? How does the company make its money? What do I have to offer? What will be expected of me? What is the relationship between the board and management?
Getting the right support
Choosing industry professionals to navigate you through effective preparation and fortify your application makes absolute sense.
Our expert team can help you shape your NED CV for maximum success – highlighting the experience you can bring to a board, demonstrating your independent thinking and readiness to take – and stand by – decisions as well as the value in your skills and expertise while reflecting an understanding of corporate governance codes and guidelines.
Talk to us about the programmes we can recommend to boost your understanding of the role and position you for the right opportunities. Also worth a read is this IOD article on non-executive directors.
In addition, we offer tailored executive coaching which will give you a solid foundation for progressing your journey to your first non-executive director role.
Finally, remember a non-executive director role places great emphasis on personality and ability, not just your career achievements. We’re skilled at identifying the right qualities and reflecting these in your CV, LinkedIn profile and executive bio to help you stand out – and then be comfortable blending in.