In these days of portfolio careers, more and more people want to become non-executive directors (NEDs). It’s a crowded market and a role that doesn’t suit everyone.
Despite the regulation and voluntary codes surrounding a NED role, and responsibilities for those in listed companies, NEDs also have a place in family‑owned companies, those backed by private equity, and those seeking growth and development, as well as in social organisations, charities, trade associations and government bodies.
But how do you decide whether a certain non-executive director role is the right fit for you?
Professor Ruth Bender of Cranfield School of Management has established ten pointers that you should consider in turn to determine if a NED role is for you:
1. Why does the organisation need a non-executive director?
If it is an early-stage business, the role might be mostly about providing advice to the executives and strategy formation. For a later‑stage business, your work will involve more governance and monitoring. Are you and they clear about what the role entails?
2. Why do you want this job, and what can you bring to it?
The NED role can cover a wide spectrum. You might be an ‘independent friend’, or a strategist, or a monitor, or all of these things on different days of the month. As with applying for any job, think about what makes you right for a particular role at a particular organisation.
3. Due diligence is essential
The company will do due diligence on you before it makes an appointment, but you must do your own due diligence as well. Make sure you understand the business, the dynamics between owners and executives, and the people with whom you will be working. Unless the other people on the board share the same level of integrity as you, the boardroom could be an uncomfortable place.
About the Author
Professor Ruth Bender is Emeritus Professor of Corporate Financial Strategy at Cranfield. Prior to this, she was a partner in Grant Thornton, where latterly she specialised in corporate finance. Ruth is a chartered accountant and was for 13 years a committee member of the ICAEW's Faculty of Finance and Management. Other outside roles have included non-executive directorships of a Health Authority and an NHS Trust, membership of the Independent Remuneration Panels for two local authorities. She is the Chair of The Case Centre, the independent home of the case study method.
Ruth has a broad range of teaching experience, including degree courses, open programmes and customised executive education, from new recruits through to board level. Her main teaching areas include corporate finance and corporate governance. Her research concerned the practical implications of corporate governance as it affects boards and board committees. In particular, she has worked with non-executive directors on remuneration committees and audit committees of larger companies. View full profile.