Do I need a Governance Qualification to get appointed to a UK Board?

Governance Qualifications UK

The truth is, a Governance Qualification is rarely a requirement for potential board candidates, however, it might just be the thing that separates you from your closest competitor. Having taken briefs from hundreds of Chairs looking to appoint new board directors, I know that they primarily look for 5 core selection criteria in board candidates. These rarely include having a Governance Qualification. In fact, of the thousands of board vacancies that we have listed, only ~15% publicly reference the need for candidates to have some governance training as a prerequisite for a successful application.

Should you invest your time and money in gaining a UK Governance Qualification?

What I recommend is that you consider a governance qualification to be a bit like an MBA. It is good to do. It is going to make you more effective in your role. The cohort you undertake the training with will likely be of value from a networking perspective. You will learn things you don’t know and have things reconfirmed to you that you do. But, alone that qualification (or any) is unlikely to get you appointed. But, it will make you a better Non-Executive Director (NED).

I speak with hundreds of aspiring and existing NEDs each year and the majority of them do have a Governance Qualification – perhaps as high as 75%. To be honest, though, I do target some of these people in my marketing approaches so this may skew my vie. However, it seems more and more that people who want a board appointment are gaining some sort of governance qualification. 

Conversely, few, if any, of these governance qualified people who have a board appointment believe that it was the thing that gained them a board appointment. Ask around and I think that you will find the same response. 

If you are serious about a board career you should consider completing some Governance Training

It could be the thing that separates you from your competitors, makes you more appointable and de-risks your appointment. Not to mention make you a better, more competent and more accountable director 

There are plenty of organisations that offer governance training including:

    • Institute of Directors (IOD)
    • Chartered Governance Institute
    • International Institute for Management Development
    • Henley Business School
    • Management Development Centre International
    • Non-Executive Directors’ Association (NEDA)
    • ICAEW Academy 
    • ENVISIA  
    • Harvard Business School 

Do not necessarily rely on the list above – there will be others. Rather, it is a starting point but I particularly like these organisations as the majority are internationally approved and accepted. 

Six Reasons to Get a Governance Qualification

Regardless of what training you decide to undertake there are a number of benefits:

  1. Adding governance training to your Board CV, will demonstrate your commitment to Board work. 
  2. It doesn’t matter how long you have served on Boards, governance training is likely to teach you things you don’t already know.
  3. If you do have previous Non-Executive experience, governance training will likely serve to confirm (and formalise) the things you already know – if not refresh your memory!
  4. It might just be the difference between being appointed or receiving that apologetic ‘thank you but no thank you’ email or phone call – after all, when all things are equal but for education, a board is more likely to appoint a professionally qualified candidate than someone who is not qualified.
  5. The cohort you complete the course with are your peers and may provide a strong network for you to leverage into a board opportunity. Your Governance Training will form part of your pitch to a Board as to why they should appoint you. It is certain to help you “dare them not to appoint you”.
  6. Finally, governance training will show that you are serious about developing a board career and contributing effectively to the governance of an organisation.

In summary

Please don’t hear me say that board directors don’t need any governance training. What you need to recognise is that it is not a “ticket to play” but may make you more competitive in a highly competitive board appointment environment. There are a bunch of good reasons for board role seekers to invest in governance training, but this is not the place to begin if you want to get appointed.

About the Author

David Schwarz is CEO & Founder of Board Appointments – The UK’s leading board advertising and non-executive career support firm. He has over a decade of experience of putting people on boards as an international headhunter and a non-executive recruiter and has interviewed over one thousand non-executives and placed hundreds into some of the most significant public, private and NFP roles in the world.

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