Non-Executive Director roles are no longer the domain of retired executives looking to maintain a level of professional involvement, with many people making the transition to an NED role as a positive career move.
Portfolio careers, or ‘going plural’ as Allan Leighton called it, is now viewed as a serious alternative career plan for executives at a much earlier stage of their career than NED’s of the past. For many retail executives who have thrived in working within the fast paced world of retail, a move to a portfolio career could offer both variety and a fresh challenge. Joining a large corporate board provides a seasoned executive the opportunity to use their technical skills and commercial experience to influence business critical strategic decisions that can impact on hundreds of jobs. At the other end of the spectrum many NEDs that join start up or early stage businesses enjoy the challenge of working alongside the management team to help support business growth and influence investment partnerships.
For women the NED route may be a speedier path to gaining a seat at the boardroom table. Analysis of FTSE100 board appointments in the last year revealed that whilst female executives accounted for 38% of board appointments made, the majority of appointments were into NED roles.
Fiona Davidson who heads up court & spark’s Main Board Practice comments: “If the NED route helps to increase female representation across mainstream board appointments then clearly it is a desired trend. However we do not see an NED appointment as one that should be gender biased. As with any Executive appointment, we help the organisation find the candidate with the most suitable experience, skill set, persona and career profile. In addition to industry experience an exemplary NED needs to have a thorough understanding of the corporate landscape including governance and fiscal acumen. The most valued NEDs will be able to demonstrate first rate communication and relationship management skills to facilitate the diverse range of talents and insights from the whole of the non-executive team. They seek to advise, inform, challenge and forecast industry trends and global opportunities. In essence they should aim to future-proof the organisation rigorously and bravely.”