UK Companies are increasingly employing non executive directors to provide experienced advice and guidance to help them succeed. However, there is a shortfall of experienced individuals to provide this help – and one company which specialises in placing individuals with companies believes that retired professionals can fill that gap.
Ray Fox, founder of the NEDExchange, explains: “Many companies are looking for non executive directors but don’t know how to find them. Similarly, there are many recently retired Company Directors, Company Secretaries, Accountants and Lawyers who would be ideal as non executive directors. What we do is act as a sort of marriage broker, putting those companies who are looking for Non Executive Directors in touch with those individuals who want to become non executive directors.”
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS A NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR?
Non executive directors are part time Directors of the company they act for. In some companies they may only attend monthly board meetings, in others they may act as a liaison or contact point for shareholders, major customers, suppliers etc. Sometimes they sit on committees within companies that require an independent body of thought, separate and not answerable to the Chief Executive, Managing Director or Chairman.
The skills and knowledge that individuals can bring to companies can be extremely valuable. It can be relatively simple for the management structure to slip into an introverted and staid approach to business. For example, family owned businesses can fall into the trap of “we’ve always done it this way – why should we change”.
A non executive director can see risks and opportunities in the market-place that are sometimes overlooked by the Executive Management. They can step back from the hurly burly of every day business life and see things from a different perspective, bring unique expertise – for example some companies employ non executive directors because they have specific managerial expertise – sales, marketing, personnel, I.T., finance, legal – or because they have particular contacts which would be of value to the employing company, for example in government, banking, finance, defence, etc.
ADVANTAGES FOR THE RETIRED PROFESSIONAL
The advantages for the retired professional of working as a non executive director can be numerous. Of course, a source of income can help supplement the individual’s pension. But there are numerous advantages, as Ray Fox notes: “As well as a new source of income, non executive directorships can offer a valuable sense of job satisfaction to the retired person’s life, without having to work full time. The individual’s experience and knowledge will be appreciated by the company as a valuable asset, their views listened to and they will feel they are making an exciting contribution to the company’s success.”
SO WHO MAKES AN IDEAL NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR?
Ray Fox’s experience at the NEDExchange suggests that there is no ‘right’ time to become a non executive director and no ‘right’ sort of candidate. “Professionally qualified individuals – including Chartered Surveyors, Accountants, Lawyers, Management Consultants, etc are required by companies as non executive directors – as are individuals with business experience in particular niche industries or those with specific managerial expertise, for example Property Specialists, Company Doctors, Credit Management, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Personnel, Legal, etc. Others can use their contacts to the benefit of their host company, for example Politicians, Bankers, Civil Servants, Diplomats and Local Authority officials.”
FILLING THE SKILLS GAP
Nearly all of the major UK based organisations have at least one non executive director. As we begin the 21st Century, the demand for high calibre non executive directors continues to grow. Companies also need to expand their management talent base. Ray Fox believes that retired professionals can fill this skills gap: “There are thousands of retired professionals, senior managers, CEOs, directors and individuals with specialised knowledge and contacts who can provide the expertise companies need. This is especially important as the average age of the UK population increases. Retired people can be as valuable to a company as any university graduate.”
To learn how the NED Exchange can help you find a non executive directors job, please click here.