Non-Executive Director: A New Perspective On Career Development

Non-Executive Director: A New Perspective On Career Development

Over the last decade there has been a significant rise in the concept of “portfolio careers.” This refers to making a living derived from have multiple simultaneous jobs; these positions are on a part-time, flexible, consultative or provisional basis. As a business professional hoping to thrive in the Middle East, this career approach can be just the remedy to jumpstart your success.

One effective way to implement a portfolio career strategy is by incorporating one or two remunerated non-executive director (NED) positions. These positions not only provide a regular salary; these roles also help develop proficiencies, career experiences and credibility in other lines of work.

A New Perspective on Your Career Development: Advantages to Becoming a Non-Executive Director


What is a Non-executive Director?

Non-executive directors are positions where individuals sit on the board of many public, private and not-for-profit organizations. These directors, while members of the board, are not employees of their respective organizations. Rather, these directors are appointed to the role given their expertise. They perform as a “critical friend;” they do this by scrutinizing the organization’s performance and offering strategic input and advice to the executive team. There is great variation in how the position functions based on the individual organization; how often a NED meets with the board and what duties they are required to perform are determined on an ad hoc basis.


A non-executive director however should expect a few general duties in their position. One should anticipate to at least a monthly commitment to attend meetings to review board reports, as well as additional meetings if one is appointed to a sub-committee dealing with specific items such as finance. A NED may be required to be present at public events, such as the launch of new products or the opening of a new corporate branch. Some boards may also insist on training and team development away-days that will require a time obligations.


When looking for a job, such as Non-Executive Director position, your CV is the most important document to reflect your expertise towards the type of role that you’re looking for.

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How to acquire such a role?

Breaking through into the non-executive world and achieving that first post is no easy task. On many occasions people wanting to be NEDs face the experience/opportunity catch-22 that many first-time job seekers and recent graduates encounter: they cannot get a professional position because they lack the experience, but they can’t get the experience without the job. Boards appointing new non-executive directors are often looking to find people that already have experience of how a board operates and know how a good NED can make a difference.

An advisable way to undertake such a venture is to begin by seeking out quasi-board positions. Examples of this include sitting on strategic partnership teams above projects being delivered by organizations in joint-venture partnerships. This will provide you some experience of what it’s like to offer strategic input and foresight while not having direct executive responsibility for the program.


Another viable option to develop attractive experience for your NED is to secure a non-remunerated NED role. Remember that a non-remunerated role is not a paid position. These posts are typically found in public, not-for-profit/ third sector organizations; these include social landlords, charities and community groups. They are a great way to get a foothold in the non-executive market, as less individuals are likely to compete for these voluntary roles. However, the ambitious can use this as an opportunity to prove you have the skills to be an active board member, and you will have an upper edge the next time they go after a NED role. Many NEDs find that once they have that first board-level role under their belt, they can access further non-executive opportunities more easily.

The Middle Eastern business market is a fiercely competitive arena. The best and brightest must consider every possible career opportunity to succeed. If you have the drive and mentality to reacclimatize to a new way of working, a “portfolio career” may be for you. Take advantage of non-executive directorship opportunities, and create a new and ever-changing professional experience.


Make sure you’re ready to to take your career to CEO level and succeed. Sign up to the CI Executive Career Management programme and get access to a Career Coach to guide and coach you through your journey to board level. Also don’t forget to keep a lookout for the top roles that become available in emerging markets.

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About the author

Jamie McDermott

Involved in Business Development and Technologies at Career Intelligence. Based in the Fleet Street, London office since the start of 2014.

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