Non-Executive Director Roles – Advice from Helen Jones
Helen, who holds two non-executive directorships, shares her experiences of becoming a non-executive director and collates what she has learnt and the challenges that she has faced on the journey.
Non – Executive Roles
Halfords Group plc – Non-Executive Director
Chair of the CSR Committee
Member of REM, Audit & Nom Committees
Ben & Jerry’s – Independent Board Director
Chair of Product & Quality Committee
Member of Audit Committee
Toast Ale Ltd – Non-Executive Director
Key Executive Roles
Caffe Nero – Group Executive Director
September 2012 – December 2017
Zizzi Restaurants (Gondola Group) – Managing Director
September 2009 – August 2012
Ben & Jerry’s – Director of Brand
May 2006 – August 2009
Actively network to give yourself as much exposure as possible.
Non-executive roles are highly sought after which makes for a highly competitive marketplace. Therefore it is important for you to exploit your capabilities, ensuring your resumé works well in displaying your experience and knowledge.
Your skills may be much sought after in a new sector, so be open-minded when considering the sector that you wish to work in.
Start early! Your network is better and stronger whilst in an executive role so do not leave it until you want to start.
Recognise that this role will be very different to your executive role and understand your own personal development needs. The role will force you to think more strategically – to govern, advise, influence and warn.
Building a Plural Career
Try to bridge the gap by taking on a non-executive role whilst you are in full-time executive work. The quality of your first appointment is critical so be considerate in your choice, particularly the first role.
You must be compatible with the culture of the business and the board, and therefore it is important to be thorough when assessing the role. Insist on meeting the other members of the board before taking the role, and always consider the quality of corporate governance and compliance.
Take advice from experienced non-executives on what roles you may be suited to; their own experiences are extremely beneficial.
When considering alternative sectors be mindful of the adjustment you may need. The not-for-profit sector is very compelling, but the objectives are very different to commercial organisations, where there may be more of a challenge to influence the board – yes, more stimulating maybe – but is this what you desire?
Commitment, Time and Balance
Be realistic about how much time you’re willing and able to give to the roles.
A non-executive role will open a new chapter for you, one that does require different skills and a change of approach.
Taking on a non-executive role will open a new chapter for you, one that does require different skills and a change of approach. The time you spend outside of the boardroom can be significant to how you develop in the role. It is important to ensure you have time to fulfil your obligations to the board, and also your own development, to secure success within the role.
A non-executive role can provide enormous scope for personal challenge and development, but it is also a big responsibility; you are a representative of the company at all times.