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Being an Interim Manager

by Roderick McInnes


Becoming a Non-Executive Director

Having recently attended a FT NED Club event, I know there is a large interest in becoming a non-executive director amongst the interim community. If this is something you think might be for you, have a look at the website above; the next So You Want To Be A Non-Executive Director workshop is in March 2015.

Non-Executive Directors And Interims

The role of an NED is particularly suitable to those interims with many years of experience working across their sector. Boards are looking for individuals with real business experience and knowledge, individuals who can be brought in to provide expertise and judgment, always with the long-term interests of the organisation in mind. As a seasoned interim you will have plenty of this!

So what key things should you be aware of when considering a role as a NED? Have a look at the list below:

Top Tips For Non-Executive Director Success

  1. Full time: In any NED assignment, the first 3-4 months are full time. Make no mistake that even if you are only officially in the business 3-4 times a month, your commitment will be called on extensively in this initial period.
  2. Finance and Operations first: when entering a company, if it is clear to you as an “outsider” that the finance and operations of the business aren’t working, then this needs to be fixed first. Without these crucial elements performing as they should, you will get nowhere near the strategy.
  3. Training: If you have not done so already, look into some NED training such as the FT NED Club Diploma. It is key as an NED that you challenge yourself and your skill set if you want to succeed.
  4. Skills audit: In relation to training, be brave enough to perform a skills audit – go through your own executive experience and be honest about the skills you have and don’t have.
  5. Networking: If you are looking for that first, or next NED role, make sure you use your network and connections and don’t be afraid to look in unusual places – try headhunters and interim agencies for example, who do come across NED roles.
  6. Do your homework: remember that doing an NED role can take up a lot more time than you first might think. Negate the risk of the role taking you over by doing your research on the client – it will pay off.
  7. Ad hoc matters: Although you may have been brought in to advise around a particular issue, ad-hoc matters do pop up, so be prepared to be on call.
  8. Check your dates: Finally, if you are fortunate enough to be doing several NED assignments, check the dates that you are required on each one. Commitment clashes of board meetings can be very professionally embarrassing.

Can you add to this list? If you are a Non-Executive Director I would be very interested to find out what you consider to be important factors for NED success. Please share your thoughts, experience and insight below.

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About the Author

Roderick McInnes

Roderick is responsible for all aspects of the marketing and communications mix, ensuring Alium maintains its market position as the leading provider of interim and transformation talent in the UK and internationally.

  • Sean

    Great thoughts about NED opportunities.

    However, recent events in the USA have highlighted the importance of understanding fully the obligations and responsibilities of NED roles. High profile failures of Boards - both in commercial and not-for-profit sectors - have highlighted the legal and fiduciary responsibility of ALL Board members. Ignorance and inexperience is no longer an effective excuse. Training and understanding are key. The Institute of Directors provides a series of comprehensive courses designed to hone potential NED skills, and helps ensure that focussed experience is matched by a broader engagement.

    NEDs offer invaluable experience and perspective to effective Boards,and demand exceeds supply. A great opportunity for the experienced and capable business executive!

    • Roderick McInnes

      Hi Sean, many thanks for your comments and insights here. Glad you enjoyed the piece. NEDs can be an invaluable resource and make a real difference to an organisation, but having a clear idea of what is required of you is also absolutely key too!

  • Melissa Ultra

    Great article - only finding it now having started to look at the range of careers for Non Executive Directors! I was wondering since you wrote this what continuing professional development opportunities you have had or was the FT training a one off? I went to an event recently with - it was one of their networking things which was actually pretty good esp with the range of speakers plus the networking side.


      Thanks Melissa - glad you found it useful. The FT training was a one off but know there are plenty of good resources and networking groups out there - the key to NED and interim success is network, network, network!

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