Is there a UK Board Appointment out there for me? - Board Appointments

Is there a UK Board Appointment out there for me?

Many people seeking a board appointment reference having seen adverts for board members containing a long list of criteria that do not always reflect their own skills and experience and start to become disillusioned and begin to ask… ‘Is there really a board appointment for me or am I wasting my time?’ It is a common question and a good one to begin with.

The simple answer is, yes, there is, and you are not wasting your time. Hard to believe?

Let’s first look at the Board Appointment statistics in the UK

There are approximately 6 million private sector businesses of which 1.4 million had employees and 44,000 were deemed to be medium or large. The UK has also 166,000 registered charities. Additionally, there are ~553 Government, agencies and public bodies and 23 Departments who ~380 entities within. In total, that means that there are approximately >930 government entities. Let’s say that conservatively just 25% of the private businesses plus all the medium and large businesses and 25% of the charities and all of the government entities had boards. In total that would be ~336,000 organisations that had boards.

On the assumption then that the average board is made up of 6 Non-Executives – a common number though many will have far more or far less – that might mean there are almost 2,016,000 board roles in existence in the UK! Let’s take an even more cautious view and say my counting off by 50%. In that case, the number of organisations with boards across the government, private and NfP sectors is closer to ~1 million board directors in the UK.

These figures are probably rubbery but it seems clear to me, even taking a really conservative perspective, that there are thousands and thousands of board roles in existence. 

So, the question is not ‘how many boards/board members exist?’ but really ‘how many of them are actively looking for new board members?’

Do board vacancies exist?

A recent study found that across all sectors in the UK, 82% of organisations recruited a board member in the last 12 months. However, again working with the conservative figure of 50% that means that potentially as many as 180,000 new board members are appointed each year. Wow!

Great news… but for who?

I think I have firmly established that there are board opportunities available. So the next question must focus on whether there is a role for you. If you are starting out on this journey, or felt you got ‘lucky’ with your first appointment and don’t know if you can replicate that luck again I want to assure you that there is a board role that is right for you. What that looks like depends on a number of factors.

Firstly, what are your board aspirations? Many aspiring board members have come unstuck because their aspirations were not reflected in reality. That means that you might be trying to be appointed to boards that are just never going to appoint you. It can work the other way around too. It might be an organisation who wants you on their board isn’t your cup of tea. Either way, if your aspirations are not right you won’t find a board appointment no matter how many exist.

If however, your aspirations are balanced against the reality of your potential appointment and you are willing to be a little flexible you will find that a board appointment will occur far quicker than you might imagine.

Is there really a board appointment for everyone?

Of course not – there are far fewer opportunities that exist than there are aspiring board members. However, they do exist for people who can articulate their value at board level, who are passionate and are willing to be a little flexible.

Don’t forget that building a qualified, active, and engaged board is the goal for most organisations. So if you have the ability to develop new ideas and strategies, resolve complex issues, assist in generating the continued success of your future board – back yourself and ‘dare them not to appoint you’.

How you do that to them is a different proposition. Board Appointments can help.

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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