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Do You Choose A NED Role Or Does The NED Role Choose You?

Published 18th December 2023
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Do You Choose A NED Role Or Does The NED Role Choose You?

Published 18th December 2023

In the intricate web of corporate governance, Non-Executive Director (NED) roles have gained prominence, offering a fresh breath of diversity, experience, and perspective. However, one question perpetually plagues professionals with aspirations of becoming NEDs: "Do you choose a NED role, or does the NED role choose you?" 

This question transcends a simple career choice; it encapsulates a profound journey of responsibility, expertise, and transformation. In this comprehensive guide, we delve deep into the multifaceted world of NED roles, scrutinising their responsibilities, the two primary approaches to seeking or being sought after for NED positions, the critical importance of preparation, and the art of balancing the proactive and reactive approaches. 

Furthermore, we discuss the immeasurable value that NEDs bring to organisations, serving as the custodians of responsible governance and corporate excellence.

Key Takeaways
  • Significance of Choosing or Being Chosen for NED Role: Understanding the importance of this question is vital for those aspiring to become Non-Executive Directors (NEDs), signifying commitment and expertise.
  • Understanding NED Responsibilities: NEDs offer independent oversight, guidance, and feedback in governance, strategy, and risk management, crucial for corporate success.
  • Proactive Approach to NED Roles: Aspiring NEDs should align personal interests with skills, research potential companies and industries, and network actively to express their interest in NED positions.
  • Being Chosen for a NED Role: Companies select NEDs based on their track record, industry expertise, and reputation. It's important to have a strong professional background and to be prepared for such opportunities.
  • Preparation and Continuous Learning: Building a comprehensive portfolio and staying updated on industry trends are essential for both actively seeking and being ready for NED roles.

Importance of the Question in the Context of a NED Role

The decision to embark on the journey to become a Non-Executive Director carries significant weight. It demands commitment, expertise, and the ability to provide invaluable insights that steer a company towards its goals. Whether one actively seeks a NED role or adopts a more patient stance, understanding the profound significance of this question is fundamental for anyone contemplating a NED role.

Understanding the NED Role

Before we dive into the proactive and reactive approaches of selecting or being selected for a NED role, let's lay the groundwork by clarifying what a NED role entails.

Definition and Responsibilities of a NED

A Non-Executive Director is an individual who sits on a company's board but is not directly involved in daily operations. Their primary responsibilities encompass offering independent oversight, guidance, and constructive feedback. NEDs play a pivotal role in governance, strategy development, and risk management, collectively contributing to a company's success. NEDs are the custodians of checks and balances in the corporate world, ensuring ethical behaviour and compliance with regulations.

The Value a NED Brings to a Company

NEDs bring a plethora of unique benefits to the companies they serve. Their impartiality, industry knowledge, and extensive network of contacts make them invaluable advisors. Leveraging their objectivity and fresh perspectives, NEDs are well-equipped to identify opportunities and mitigate risks, thus enhancing corporate governance. NEDs function as the critical conscience of the board, ensuring that ethical and sustainable practices are upheld. Their contributions extend far beyond the boardroom, shaping the corporate culture and fostering responsible business practices.

Choosing a NED Role: The Proactive Approach

For individuals contemplating a NED role, adopting a proactive approach is a prudent strategy to initiate their journey.

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Importance of Personal Interests and Skills Alignment

At the outset, it's essential to identify personal interests and align them with the requisite skills necessary for NED responsibilities. A successful NED effectively leverages prior executive roles, personal passions, and their wealth of experience to make meaningful contributions. The NED role is a delicate balance of professional proficiency and personal engagement; combining these factors can create a meaningful and rewarding journey.

Researching Potential Companies and Industries

After pinpointing areas of interest and expertise, in-depth research into potential companies and industries becomes imperative. A comprehensive analysis of governance structures, existing board composition, and future strategies is key to ensuring that your contributions align with their needs. This research phase is akin to a reconnaissance mission, as it equips the aspiring NED with a strategic roadmap to chart their course towards a suitable role. It's not just about finding any NED role; it's about finding the right NED role that aligns with your expertise and aspirations.

Networking and Expressing Interest in NED Roles

Networking is the foundation of success in the pursuit of a NED role. Active participation in industry events, forging connections with professionals in your field, and ardently expressing your interest in NED roles are foundational steps. Cultivating a robust personal brand that accurately reflects your expertise and unwavering commitment to the NED role is indispensable. Networking serves as the bridge between intention and action; it's the conduit through which potential NEDs can interact with organisations and board members, thereby manifesting their aspirations into reality.

The NED Role Choosing You: The Reactive Approach

On the other hand, NED roles may also seek you out, and it's imperative to be prepared for this eventuality.

How Companies Identify Potential NEDs

  • Proven Track Record: Companies look for NEDs with a track record of success.
  • Industry Expertise: NEDs are sought after for their deep knowledge of the industry.
  • Solid Reputation: A strong professional reputation is a key factor.
  • Recommendations: Potential candidates often come through recommendations.
  • Industry Publications: Companies may spot NEDs in industry publications.
  • Executive Search Firms: Organisations often enlist executive search firms to find NEDs, like us!
  • Thorough Background Checks: Extensive vetting is common in the selection process.
  • Alignment with Values: Companies aim to ensure that NEDs align with their mission and values.

Importance of Reputation and Previous Experience

  • Paramount Importance: Your reputation holds the utmost significance.
  • Past Accomplishments: Previous successes play a crucial role.
  • Professional Network: The strength of your network is pivotal.
  • Showcasing Leadership: Demonstrating leadership and decision-making skills is vital.
  • Calling Card: Your reputation serves as a prominent calling card.
  • Professional Integrity: It reflects your integrity in the professional realm.
  • Navigating Complexity: Your reputation demonstrates your ability to navigate corporate complexities.

Being Approached for a NED Role: What It Means and How to Respond

When a company approaches you for a NED role, it signifies that your qualifications and experience align with their specific requirements. It's crucial to evaluate both the company and the role itself to ensure that they are a good fit for your unique expertise and aspirations. 

Being approached for a NED role is a validation of your skills and experience, and it's an acknowledgement of your ability to contribute effectively to the board's deliberations. However, it's equally important to scrutinise the opportunity, ensuring that it aligns with your career goals and ethical standards.

The Interplay Between Choosing a Role and Being Chosen

Balancing both approaches involves being open to opportunities while actively pursuing your specific interests. This dynamic approach allows you to adapt to varying situations, maximising your effectiveness as a NED. 

Achieving this balance is akin to navigating the ebb and flow of a complex river. By being both the captain of your ship and a keen observer of the currents, you can harness the energies of choice and chance in your journey.

Preparation for a NED Role

Whether you are actively seeking a NED role or awaiting selection, thorough preparation is key.

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Building a Portfolio That Appeals to Companies

Creating a comprehensive portfolio that effectively showcases your skills and experiences is crucial. A well-rounded portfolio should encompass a detailed resume, case studies, and testimonials that illuminate your ability to provide value as a NED. A portfolio is a professional dossier that narrates your journey, encapsulating your achievements, expertise, and the value you bring to the NED role. It's a window through which organisations can peer into your professional identity.

Continuous Learning and Development for Potential NED Roles

The corporate landscape is in a state of constant flux. Staying updated on industry trends, governance standards, and emerging technologies is essential to remain relevant as a NED. NEDs serve as beacons of wisdom and experience, but they must continually reinvent themselves to stay in tune with the evolving corporate landscape. This perpetual learning and development process ensures that NEDs remain effective stewards of responsible governance and strategic insight.


In conclusion, the question of whether you choose a NED role or it chooses you is a multifaceted one, echoing the complexity of NED roles themselves. The interplay between proactive and reactive approaches is the very essence of this question. Being open to opportunities while actively pursuing your specific interests, building a strong personal brand, and continually upgrading your knowledge and skills are the keystones of success for aspiring NEDs. The value that NEDs bring to companies is immeasurable, and their contributions to governance, strategy, and risk management are invaluable in today's complex business landscape.


Is a NED role a full-time job?

No, a NED role is typically part-time, involving board meetings and occasional committee work. NED roles allow professionals to balance their board commitments with other pursuits. This flexibility is one of the appealing aspects of being a NED, as it enables individuals to maintain their existing professional roles or pursue other interests concurrently.

What skills are essential for a NED?

Skills like strategic thinking, financial acumen, industry expertise, and effective communication are crucial. NEDs must possess a blend of leadership qualities, industry insights, and the ability to communicate complex ideas effectively. These skills not only contribute to the effectiveness of a NED in the boardroom but also enhance their ability to influence the company's strategic direction positively.

Do NEDs get paid?

Yes, NEDs are compensated for their work, but the level of remuneration varies. NED remuneration varies significantly depending on the sector, the company's size, and the specific role's responsibilities. Compensation may consist of a combination of fees, equity, and other benefits. The compensation structure reflects the unique demands and expectations associated with NED roles within different organisations.

What is the time commitment for a NED role?

The time commitment can vary but typically ranges from a few days to several weeks per year. The level of commitment depends on the company's requirements and the specific NED role. NEDs are expected to attend board meetings, committee meetings, and invest time in understanding the company's operations. The time commitment is often discussed and agreed upon when a NED is appointed, ensuring alignment between the NED's availability and the company's expectations.

How can I find NED opportunities?

Networking, executive search firms, and online platforms specialising in NED roles are excellent starting points. NED opportunities often arise through professional connections, executive search firms like us, and specialised platforms that match NEDs with organisations in need of their expertise. Engaging in industry events and proactively reaching out to your network can significantly enhance your chances of discovering NED opportunities. The NED landscape thrives on connections and recommendations, making your professional relationships a valuable asset in your quest for NED roles.

Advance Your Governance Journey: Explore Executive Search for NED Roles
Having delved into the intricacies of selecting or being selected for a Non-Executive Director (NED) role, your next step is crucial. Discover Macildowie's Executive Search services, specialised in sourcing top-tier NED talent. Our expertise lies in identifying and onboarding leaders who are not just fitting but inspirational, ensuring organisational success through effective leadership.