The demand for Non-Executive Directors rarely drops, even in challenging times and economic downturns. Organisations need boards, and boards need directors. A paid board role can future-proof your career by providing an additional income stream, but any board role can provide opportunities to strengthen and grow your career.
The 2021 Spencer Stuart Board Index of the FTSE 150 UK companies found over 12 months that:
- 18% of board members were newly appointed (the highest since 2015)
- 39% of those also had an executive career
- 61% of those had a portfolio career (which means you are guaranteed that they site on other boards)
- 35% of those were first-time non-executives
An insignificant board role saved my career during the GCF
Between 2007 – 2009, right amid the Global Financial Crisis in the UK, unemployment sharply increased worldwide to more than 210 million people, an increase of over 30 million, hitting advanced economies especially hard and having long-term social repercussions. During this period, and extending into 2010, in the UK around 80% of my executive/board recruiter peers were unemployed and struggling to find meaningful roles. It was indeed a blood bath for recruiters – and many other professionals suffered similar fates. Fortunately, this was not my experience. In fact, not only did I remain employed, but my career actually improved. I can point to my first voluntary and small not-for-profit NED appointment as the reason for this. I am proof that board appointments can fundamentally future-proof your career.
How Board Roles can future-proof your career
For many, a Board Appointment can add much-needed additional income, provide focus and purpose post-retirement, play an important role in professional development, and the connections and experience gained in these roles can be leveraged powerfully into new career opportunities.
Ways a board role can help future-proof your career:
- Supplement your income – the average income for the top listed NEDs is £115,709pa, with small-cap NEDs earning £60,000pa and private company NEDs earning £18,000pa. Additionally, consulting fees can also often be generated through the relationships formed at board level.
- Develop your profile – join the 5% of people who hold a board appointment.
- Demonstrate strategic success – Board Appointments evidence strategic experience which is fundamentally important for you to be able to evidence in order to drive your executive career.
- Broaden your skills – regardless of your executive skills, a board appointment will develop your governance experience and offer an opportunity to fully utilise your existing skills by operating at a macro level. This can of course also be leveraged in your executive career.
- Build leverageable networks – even small organisations have significant NEDs on their boards. That means that sometimes fairly insignificant board appointments can open up networks with individuals you would not normally have. These relationships are highly leverageable.
- Provide an opportunity to give back: Boards offer an opportunity to give back to an industry that has supported you or a business or cause that you are passionate about.
- Facilitate more successful retirements – board roles offer an opportunity to maintain your relevance, contribute and develop new professional relationships.
Successful NEDs know these 3 things
It doesn’t matter if you have held a board appointment before or not (as seen in the statistics above). It doesn’t matter whether you are a CEO, retired or just starting your career. It doesn’t matter what your current job is. It doesn’t matter how ‘connected’ you are… it doesn’t matter.
Successful Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) know what matters. They are clear about three things:
- The organisations they are targeting
- Why they should be appointed to the boards of those organisations, and
- How they will be appointed.
Start your board career today
For all of these reasons, and many more and regardless of where you are in your career – starting out, considering retirement, wanting to future-proof your career, considering a career change, an experienced executive or wanting some additional income – a board appointment must be part of your career plan and professional development. Now more than ever.
Finding and gaining Non-Executive Director or Advisory Board opportunities is difficult – getting appointed to them even more so. However, regardless of whether you are an experienced Director or just starting your board career, there are some simple things you can do that will: make you more appointable; separate yourself from your competitors and; help you gain the appointment that you want. Find out how we 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 in 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