Insights: Why you should consider taking an unpaid NED role

Having a NED plan for your first role is an excellent way to launch and achieve success in your NED career. Many members tell us that they are interested in developing their careers into non-executive director (NED) roles. However, the right opportunities may not come along at once, and it may require gaining initial experience as an unpaid NED. As part of our expert interview series, NEDonBoard has interviewed Gillian Wilmot, NED Award Winner 2014. Having asked her about the transition from unpaid NED to a paid role, it is evident there are a number of things to consider beforehand.

What should an unpaid NED do to transition to a paid role?

A: With an unpaid NED, there are some interesting roles you can do – very influential roles. For example, I’m on the Industrial Development Advisory Board, which is unpaid, but there’s been some pretty impressive people on that board. We do things that are clearly directly related to business, because we advise ministers on business and industry issues. We read due diligence reports and advise on the steel industry, car manufacturing, aerospace. Actually, that is incredibly relevant to a corporate board. So it’s not the issue, whether it’s paid or unpaid, the issue is how relevant it is to the work of a commercial board. And generally, it’s commercial boards that will pay you.

A lot of the unpaid NED roles exist within the voluntary, charity  or public sectors, where there are great demands for experienced directors and executives from the private sector to take on a NED role and add value to the organisation. Don’t think of it as undertaking a role for free; more an investment to build your portfolio and preparing yourself to get started on the track to becoming an NED. 

Leave a Reply