How to find a non-executive director role

by Sean O'Neill on Feb 16, 2022

How to find a non-executive director role

How to find a non-executive role is not a simple or straightforward process. However, with the right level of education, preparation, skills and networking, landing your first seat on a board is a destination worth the journey.

Non-executive directors (NEDs) and executive directors both have the same duties and responsibilities.

In practice, NEDs are typically ‘outsiders’ to the company, detached from the day-to-day operations and valued for their objective insight.

Thus, their role has a very different dynamic than an executive director’s.

Among other things, they are able to contribute a unique perspective to corporate governance, strategy, risk management, and succession planning.

A company’s NEDs must complement the skills, perspectives and experience of the board.

How can you land a non-executive role?

The effectiveness of the committee can be a substantial competitive advantage for your organisation. So, the choice of people to be on the committee is very important. There are different areas where executive committees can look at their effectiveness, and one of these is a strategic focus.

The committee must anticipate the future needs and sustainability of the organisation and develop an overall mission and vision. They must also seek a wide variety of inputs from different team members and be good listeners. Finally, they must prioritise the interests of the organisation above individual needs.

Everyone on the executive committee should be clear on their roles and responsibilities.

What does the role involve?

Non-executive directors are external to the company, and their value is in providing objective advice.

The role of the non-executive director also requires the ability to negotiate and to have a high amount of integrity.

If you have a particular business in mind where you would like to take on a role as a non-executive director, you should have a good understanding of the company and its performance.

You should also understand the values of the organisation and its financial position if possible.

There is no fixed pay rate for non-executive directors, depending on the company size and the time commitment.

NED pay can also depend on experience and value to the business and can be increased by charging additional fees for serving on committees.

The average remuneration of directors in Ireland is between €40,000 to €60,000. In the UK, a FTSE 100 NED base salary can be anything from £100,000 – £300,000.

How to find a non-executive director role

Since the market on commercial boards might be small, getting yourself noticed by the right people is essential. You should have the ability to market your credentials accordingly. 

Realistically, it can take a while to secure an appointment. This could be between one and two years of networking and appropriate training and development.

Successful boards are made up of different people, but there are also some commonalities. You should have excellent interpersonal skills, and you should be able to demonstrate your experience and these traits on your CV. 

You should show that you can invest the time in learning about the business, travel if necessary, and understand and work with people.

To become a non-executive director, you should be able to educate yourself to understand the legal requirements set out your country’s Companies Act, and you should understand the regulatory environment very well. 

It would help if you also understood GDPR and data protection and should be prepared to undertake further training to cover any gaps in your knowledge.

So, if you are looking for a role as a non-executive director, you should remember that the essential things to bear in mind are:

  • The level of governance experience you have to date
  • Your existing network and your abilities to network with others
  • Your knowledge of regulations and legislation
  • Your knowledge of the businesses you are interested in working with
  • Any relevant executive skills you already have
  • How you fit with the organisation in terms of personality, values, and culture

You can find non-executive roles either through connections, advertisements, recruitment firms or by approaching specific companies you have an interest in working with. 

However, many are appointed through personal relationships, so it is vital to build your network.

Non-Executive Director

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