HRD TO NED – No longer the exception to the rule?

Published: 25 April 2016

We were delighted to host an intimate roundtable discussion with senior HR professionals from Consumer & Retail businesses, on the transition from HRD to NED last week. Guest host for the evening was Tea Colaianni, recent Group HR Director of Merlin Entertainments and currently NED at Poundland.

As an experienced Group HRD, Tea talked passionately and with great insight about the journey and transition between the two roles. She covered a number of areas, from preparing for an NED role to securing an NED position, and discussed how holding both positions simultaneously can benefit both businesses. 

She highlighted a number of considerations and offered the following advice to those wishing to pursue an NED position:

• Ask yourself why you really want an NED role (after all its very rarely for the money)

• Don’t be afraid to assess your own skill base – use an external coach to help identify gaps; developing a broad commercial skill set is key to stepping into an NED role

• Develop strong financial skills to allow input into the business strategy – consider taking a course 

• Get the support of your CEO

• Be sure you are willing to give up your time (for example, if it is an international business, are you willing to travel if required?)

• Choose wisely; you will only be able to hold one NED role along with your day job

• Ensure both roles offer you different experiences but bring value to both businesses

• Choose a market/product that you have affinity with 

• Invest time building a network with head hunters who specialise with the NED/Board appointments

• Don’t underestimate the value of who you are and what you bring to the table!

Public focus on executive remuneration post -recession has driven a clear need for experienced HRD’s on boards, particularly the FTSE 250 boards where numbers are slowly increasing.  There has never been better time for HRDs to become NEDs; knowledge of employee development and engagement combined with strategic thinking is essential for a truly diverse and forward thinking board.

Alka Gandhi is a Principal Consultant in the Consumer, Retail & Leisure Practice

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