Whether you are an experienced professional in the industry or a young working professional, you should know that becoming a non-executive director is no walk in the park. Even professionals with decades of experience have to work hard to secure their first appointment in this well-sought out role. So, the question is – how do you become a NED in a field where the requirements are stringent and the competition is tough? Read on to know more:
- Improve your resume constructively. Most professionals interested in taking up a non-executive director position start from a trustee position. This is one way to gain valuable experience in a profile where the powers are the same as that of a NED. So basically, it is a way of getting hands-on and practical experience instead of something that would just decorate your resume. Make sure that your experience as a trustee is prominently featured on your NED CV.
- Experience vs. expertise. Experience and age still matter when you look for a NED position. This doesn’t mean that under-45s have no hope of making it in the profession but their competitive positioning is different and focuses on expertise rather than experience. Related post: NEDonBoard calls for boards to appoint younger non-executive directors to refresh their composition
- Build personal attributes. It is a popular saying in the non-execs circle that no NED has all the qualifications. This is because the list is so extensive, it is virtually impossible for one person to have all the personal attributes. A non-executive director must be independent, challenging, passionate, objective, entrepreneurial, mature, intelligent, supportive, well-rounded, interesting, and smart. Certain other attributes like the stability of personality, strong character, and resourcefulness are also important. NEDonBoard considers that there are 5 skills that effective NEDs demonstrate: business acumen, governance knowledge, financial astuteness, emotional intelligence and integrity.
- Possess a business background. This requirement is not merely in terms of qualification but also in terms of experience. This is why financial analysts, chartered accountants, MBAs, and other people coming from a heavy business background secure more easily a non-executive director job. However, it is possible to become a NED even if you don’t come from a business background.
- Get through the interview. It is your job to help your interviewer see you in the NED position. Think about your own capabilities and qualifications. Try to imagine your role as a NED and the benefits you would bring to the organisation: this is your unique value proposition. Feel free to quiz the chair about the big issues and the organisation’s concerns as (i) this forms part of your due diligence into the organisation prior to accepting a role and (ii) this gives you a good idea about the governance path you need to follow for maintaining the direction and morale of the organisation.
So, how do you improve your chances of becoming a NED? You need to be best prepared. NEDonBoard designed a course for first-time non-executive directors to fast track your journey to the boardroom and transition with ease, confidence and success. Visit the NED Accelerator Programme course page for more information.
Written by Elise Perraud