Becoming a Non–Executive Director (NED)


empty boardroomA Non-Executive Director (NED) is a member of a company's board of directors. Typically, they do not engage in the day-to-day management of the organisation or make decisions, however they are more involved in policy making, planning and providing strategic direction. This article introduces the role of a Non-Executive Director, with an overview of the qualities sought from prospective NEDs, how they operate within a company, and steps to securing a NED role.

What is the purpose and key accountabilities of a NED?

NEDs are detached from day-to-day operations and are valued for providing an independent view of the company. They are required to provide strategic direction, maintain corporate governance, build successful relationships with internal and external shareholders/stakeholders, monitor performance and oversee succession planning. They may determine appropriate levels of remuneration, set standards and create policies, as well as being involved in financial reporting, risk management and mitigation.

Why become a NED?

There are many reasons why professionals take that next step up as a NED. It can be a great benefit to your career and an opportunity to expand your network and gain a better understanding of different industries and sectors. NED roles allow you to share your professional expertise and gain exposure to new business perspectives and varying company strategies and plans. You can benefit from a feeling that you are making worthwhile contributions to an organisation’s strategic direction and business effectiveness. Not to mention an opportunity to develop your style of leadership to complement your credibility and reputation.

  • What skills/qualities do employers look for in NEDs?
  • Along with any specialist expertise, NEDs must have an independent opinion, they must be able to apply strong financial and commercial acumen with the ability to consider the wider, strategic view.
  • Other skills and qualities include;
  • Integrity, high ethical standards and the respect of the other board members
  • Leadership and self-awareness with the ability to gain respect and attention
  • Sound judgement with the ability to manage difficult decisions
  • Strong interpersonal skills such as listening, persuasiveness, ability to communicate ideas, sensitivity, openness and awareness of non-verbal communication, co-operation and team-working, facilitation skills

NEDs need to be familiar with financial reporting, P&L and managing risk. Finally, they should be able to identify new business opportunities, embrace change and apply innovation.

Preparing a Non-Executive Director (NED) CV

A NED CV requires a slightly different focus from the chronological CV. A traditional chronological CV format will put emphasis on what you have done in each role – including where and when. When applying for a NED role, consider a functional or combination format. This way you can draw attention to skills and experience gained in previous career history or voluntary board experience and bring the most marketable and relevant information to the forefront of your CV.

How do I find NED appointments?

Securing your first appointment may prove challenging. Often professionals find it challenging to secure a position without the experience but can't get the experience without previous experience. This is because boards appointing new NEDs are often looking to find people that already have experience of how a board operates. It’s for this reason you need to be clear on what you have to offer and how you could make a contribution.

You can find opportunities through a range of methods such as;

Networking, speculative approaches, register with specialist NED job boards, speak to specialist search firms. Also consider non-remunerated NED roles such as roles in the public or third sector.

Renovo is one of the UK’s leading providers of outplacement and career transition support. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you secure a NED appointment please call 0800 612 2011 or email

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