Non-Executive Director Roles – Advice from Cate Poulson

Cate is continuously building and developing BGF’s external network of Board Directors; and plugging this network into a wide range of opportunities to support current and future investee companies.


Business Growth Fund,  Head of BGF Talent Network: March 2012 – Present

3i Group plc, Business Leaders Network: April 2010 – March 2012

Korn Ferry, Senior Associate: July 2009 – April 2010

Whitehead Mann, Senior Associate: January 2006 – June 2009

As a representative of BGF, Cate shared her perspective on the hiring of non-executives and a chairman for their 150+ investments. Outlined here are the salient points Cate considers when appointing non-executives.

Characteristic of a Chairman and Non-executive Director:

  •  Confident, energetic and engaging
  •  Chemistry with CEO and other board members
  •  Independence of view
  •  Expert in a particular field
  •  Institutional experience
  •  Proven business leader
  •  Track record of being able to grow a business
  •  Specific sector or market knowledge
  •  Appetite to invest oneself
  •  Hands-on and collaborative style
  •  Strong communication and influential skills


Whilst Cate represents a specific investor, she took the time to discuss key elements they look for when assessing and appointing boards for their businesses.


  • Complementary balance of experience, skills and styles, as relevant to the business’ strategy
  • Clearly defined roles, with each member knowing their own role and its value


  • Clear, well-planned agenda; with attributable, tracked actions
  • Robust decision-making protocols, with the flexibility to make decisions between board meetings


  • High quality Board Pack & MI circulated well in advance
  • Strong market knowledge and perspectives on external forces


  • Open, honest, and encouraging constructive challenge
  • 80% forward-looking vs. 20% past-review


Cate Poulson

Head of BGF Talent Network