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Thinking of a portfolio career?

non executive director

Why should you consider a NED role

It depends on why you are looking to engage in the role – here are some reasons. Firstly, it enables you to broaden your network and gives varied and new experiences. Indeed, as highlighted in NEDonBoard What to Expect of the NED Role, available as part of the NED Accelerator Programme: “it can also strengthen a CV, leading to other appointments and career opportunities. It may well introduce you to new sectors and new ways of working, creating more diversity in your working life. It may be possible to build up a portfolio of roles, which can complement each other if they are in similar fields or require similar skills, although a portfolio of very varied roles can also be useful, giving the NED a broad perspective. To some, NED roles are a welcome change from having to focus on the operational aspects of an executive job.”

NED positions may give you more independence, variety, flexibility and work/life balance. Commercial NED roles are normally paid. Whilst the income is likely to be less than for an equivalent level executive, there are other compensating factors.

Importantly, it should be possible for aspiring NEDs to select roles which provide the satisfaction of ‘giving back’ to society generally or to sectors which they have benefited from, or where they have a personal interest.  An old saying is that there are three phases of life: “we learn, earn, and then return”. For many, being an NED falls into the latter category. This is not to say you won’t still learn a lot from doing the role.’

However, it’s worth remembering when considering a role and applying for it, that it’s not just about why you would like to take on a NED role – it is important to identify what it is that you have to offer a board / boards. Going further than this, again highlighted in NEDonBoard’s What to Expect of the NED Role, ‘it would be a mistake to assume a NED does not have to master complex and detailed material, often in lengthy board papers that need to be read in a short time.’  Furthermore, the role carries onerous legal responsibilities.


With this in mind, identify for yourself:

  • What plans do I have for my career in the coming year and years?
  • Would a portfolio approach be of benefit to my career – and importantly, what can I bring to a board or role which is beneficial to the organisation?
  • What do I need to do to be proactive and prepared for such a role? Is my CV up-to-date?
  • Do I understand the role, responsibilities and legal duties?
  • Who should I connect with? This may be within the NEDonBoard membership; within your own networks, sector and connections; or through relevant introductions elsewhere.
  • What is a realistic timeline for developing my portfolio career? For some this is within a few months, for others, an 1-3 year plan is more appropriate.

Depending on where you are in your career, you may like to visit the NED Accelerator Programme course page.


Related post: The 10 reasons for being a NED