A plural career offers executives the
opportunity to work with a wide variety of businesses and
Executives are able to use their knowledge
and experience from their career to advise other businesses on their strategic
direction. Additionally, it provides the opportunity to work within a role that
has more of a social purpose if the individual decides to take a role in a
charity or trust.
Towards the end of last year PSD's Board Practice
hosted their second
forum, which focused on how women can successfully forge a career as a
non-executive board member.
PSD hosts these events as it presents the
community of executives, who have aspirations to become a non-executive
director, with the opportunity to meet and network with non-executives and to
discuss the steps they have taken to set themselves on a path to a non-executive
career. This interactive set up provides any attendees with evidence and facts
which executives can relate to and put into practice, in comparison with
hypothetical theory-based courses.
The most recent successful event
featured Helen Jones, Non-Executive Director for Halfords Group Plc, and Cate
Poulson, Head of BGF Talent Network. In our interactive session, both Cate and
Helen spoke from experience and gave valuable advice to our attendees.
After hearing Cate and Helen speak, our sparky attendees brought forward many
questions which led to an interesting discussion. The following four topics
“Gender balance yes, but merit first"
There was a
healthy discussion surrounding the subject matter of gender on boards. There is
significant appetite to improve balance on boards, however both Cate and Helen
made it clear that they only ever endorse an appointment based on merit,
regardless of gender. This is key to how any candidate markets themselves, as
ultimately their skills and ability will secure the role, not their gender.
Attendees reflected upon how open-minded they
should be when considering the sector they choose to take a non-executive role
in. Some attendees had not considered national businesses, or the not-for-profit
sector previously, but felt that maybe this could be a natural step for them
whilst seeking their first appointment.
HR - Value add
interesting to discuss which function and leadership roles (apart from the
obvious CEO, CFO and COO) were considered valuable. The benefit of having HR
executives on a board was clear in Cate's advice, even though many small to
medium enterprises overlook HR as a business tool to enhance the business.
Instead, HR is seen as a risk mitigation remit from a personnel and legislative
perspective. This represents a significant opportunity for HR executives to add
value from a non-executive perspective.
Make it count!
noted that when she had initially joined boards, she ensured that she added
value and gained the respect of the board as soon as she could. She encouraged
any first-time board appointees to contribute, and be forceful if they are in
disagreement. This not always easy when first appointed, especially when working
with more experienced non-executives or a chairperson. Her advice was to ensure
you are heard, constructively, and remember not only will you gain the respect
of your board colleagues, they may also recommend you for other roles in time,
if they value you contribution.
“Really enjoyed the session. Thought the speakers were really
interesting and it was the right length of time and time of
“It was a great myth
“A very aspirational
If you would like to be contacted about any future
Non-Executive Director events please email Helen
Cate Poulson - Head of BGF Talent Network
Helen Jones - Group Executive Director at Caffe