Non Exec Directorships

With the shifting retirement age towards 70 and the growth of the portfolio sector an increasing light has been shone on the opportunities for Non Executive Director (NED) roles. To help us to explore this phenomenon and learn more at our Consultants conferences we invited a friend of CDS and alumni Nigel Smith to come and speak to the group about his experience as a Non-Executive Director. Nigel’s insights on his journey and subsequent in role experiences were invaluable. Nigel has a wealth of knowledge on the subject of NED positions and we learnt a lot around what an NED role entails, the do’s and don’ts in a NED position, the right type of person for the role, different sectors and industries you can get involved in and the right reasons for becoming an NED and what you can get out of it.

So what were the key learnings to emerge from the session:

  1. NED routes take a long time to navigate and are often sequential. To reach a portfolio of 3-4 could take at least a 3 year journey
  2. Be clear on the skill set that you bring. Accountants, HR and Lawyers are popular NEDS because of their core training. Broader commercial careers translate less easily into these roles.
  3. A NED career is just that, a career. Within a NED role there are opportunities to specialise on committees and indeed to progress up the hierarchy to Vice-Chair and Chair. Expert NED Chairs have a quite different skill set to that of a standard NED
  4. NED’s are there to support the Executive Director. If you haven’t reached the end of your Executive ambitions be very clear that in taking a NED role the demands are very different
  5. Choose your ownership model appropriately. FTSE is very different to owner managed and in turn to the charitable governance models
  6. You should become a NED because you care about the organisation and want to give something back, not for financial reasons
  7. If the role asks for 10 days per year…..allow for 20….you have to stay close.
  8. You shouldn’t stay an NED at an organisation for too long, often years and in exception 6 or you lose your objectivity

In summary our takeaway from Nigel’s great session was that the pathway to becoming a successful NED requires tenacity and a liberal dose of self awareness and realism. Once in role being an NED isn’t easy and carries great responsibility with its statutory responsibilities, NED’s must be supportive to their executive colleagues but also firm – always reaffirming their reason for being there.

For further information in shaping a NED career please contact







Posted: Friday 2 November 2018

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