Is a Non-Exec role the Right Career Path for you?

Any step you take on your career path comes with questions, decisions and some level of uncertainty. Questions like – is this the best direction for me? What if things don’t work out? Am I making the right choice? – are all valid and common when deciding the best way forward.

If the role of a non-executive director has sparked your interest, then this is surely worth following up on?

Ultimately the only way to truly know if any role is for you, is to do as much research into the role and explore all the options available – you really have nothing to lose through this approach.

What is a non-executive director?

Also shorted to NED, this role is fundamental within any organisation. A non-exec forms a part of the board of directors, but not part of the executive management team. It can be described as more of a consultancy role.

Compared to an executive, a non-exec is highly strategic – with a big picture view – taking into consideration the longer-term impacts of board decisions and how they will shape the future of the company.

Such foresight and wider perspective are something an executive team can struggle to achieve alone, as they are so heavily involved in the day to day running of the business. Whereas a NED provides a balanced and fresh perspective to the board, together with that much needed council and strategic direction.

The role is most commonly part time and requires at least monthly meeting attendance. However, this does vary depending on the sector, company and requirements of the specific post.

The right fit

The industry experience you have will, to a certain extent, direct which NED opportunity and company you consider to be the best fit for your background and knowledge. However, there are some NED roles available where industry experience is not favoured over possession of the required personal attributes.

This is because personal qualities are one of the biggest areas which will determine your success in the role. These include:

  • Adaptable and flexible approach
  • Empathetic and diplomatic
  • Collaborative and cohesive
  • Articulate
  • Natural rapport
  • Courageous and forthcoming
  • Strategic and big picture focused
  • Analytical
  • Independent

Whilst this may seem like a long list, the role is quite unique and the more of these qualities you possess, the more likely you are to flourish in such a role. Can these skills be developed though? Yes – if you feel you are not quite ready for a non-exec role yet, do not worry. Pin point the areas which require some improvement and focus on further developing these qualities. Hiring a personal development coach can also be a good idea for those requiring support.

Benefits of a NED role

As a career, this relatively flexible role leaves you open to adjacent possibilities and why the role has long been a popular choice for retired individuals.

Suitably matched individuals often find this to be an extremely fulfilling role, being a truly valuable element to the overall success of a business. Just imagine how good it would feel to use your skills to influence the board to choose a direction which avoids potential negative implications and puts the company in a stronger position in the long term? Perhaps without your insight, the impending decision could have had disastrous effects?…

What else might a non-exec role do for your career? Many professions make this choice to gain experience, develop skills and knowledge and enhance their income. The flexibility and variety provided by a NED role are also often cited as positives.

If you have a passion to make a difference, this could indeed be the perfect next step on your career path.