Close this search box.

First-time NEDs  |  NED recruitment  |  Secure a NED role

Routes to becoming a non-executive director


As part of our expert interview series, NEDonBoard has interviewed nearing 30 NEDs.

Having asked the question ‘how did your first non-executive director role come about’ it is evident there are a number of tried and tested routes to becoming a non-exec.

For some, having become known for a particular skill set, successfully completing a specific project, or having a good, well-known personal reputation, you may be asked to join an interview process for a NED role. For example, in a recent interview Robert Clarke explained that he was asked to ‘step in and assist a start-up’ having successfully managed an exit from his own company. Being known for your experience means ensuring you brand yourself well, connect with your business professional peers, and more and more these days, maintain an up-to-date online profile, be it on LinkedIn, with a NEDonBoard profile, or on your company website.

Those who have held senior exec positions in blue chip companies or those from specific sectors, may be approached by head-hunters, and be better placed to be a NED of a large corporate organisation.

Developing experience through unpaid NED or consultant roles can provide another route to becoming a paid non-executive. In this case, having a very clear, relevant elevator pitch at networking events is important.

Dr Elizabeth Haywood (full interview here), having held unpaid NED / trustee roles, obtained her first private sector NED role following a conversation at a networking event with the chairman of a company, whom she had not met previously.  At NEDonBoard we host panel discussion and networking events to provide you with this opportunity.

One thing of note is to be cautious of exchanging your exec role for your non-exec career too early. Developing a pipeline of well experienced professionals for future NED roles is important. Having said that, taking on a NED role can complement your exec role in helping you to progress your board level understanding.


We recommend reading the variety of NED interviews to see what direction may be best suited to your background and aspirations. Our expert interviews are accessible for NEDonBoard fee-paying members. Join us today to progress your board level career.

If you’re already clear that you’ll add a non-exec role to your career, it is time to register for our NED Accelerator Programme. To your success!