Last week Berwick Partners and PwC hosted our Fourth Annual North West HR Directors Dinner in Manchester. We brought together a select group of HR professionals from across the region to network amongst peers and share insights on the topic of becoming an NED. It was an engaging evening in which conversation and questions flowed to our guest speaker, Sally Cabrini.
Sally Cabrini is Business Services Director (HRD and CIO) at United Utilities Group Plc and Non-Executive Director (NED) of Lookers Plc. She spoke of her path from HRD to NED and gave advice on how to position yourself to gain the right NED appointment in the future:
Gain the full support of your Chairman - Sally’s Chairman actively encouraged her to join another board due to one of the key messages from the Davis Report which encouraged businesses to identify senior female executives to take on NED positions.
Use search firms – Ensure that your network of search firms know you are open to NED opportunities.
Use your Non-Executives and Chairman – Their network at this level will be strong and they can help in promoting you to the market. They may also be in a position to recommend you to search firms if they are contacted about NED roles and can provide a reference on you.
Your CV – Have two CVs, one for your HRD role and another for NED positions. The NED CV should emphasise your relationship with the board and also your experience of managing risk for the board. Ask your Non-Executives and board members to review your CV and to give you feedback on it.
Committees – Try to sit on as many committees as possible from CSR, to Audit and/or Remunerations. Use these committees to raise your profile with the Executives and build on these relationships.
Timing – For your first NED position ensure you have the time for it and the business is in a positive position, as it needs to be a success if you are to take a portfolio. If the business is in a difficult position financially or the current board do not have a good relationship it could a tricky role to step into.
Support from own board – NED roles do mean time out of the office and away from your current role to attend meetings. Ensure you have the full support from your own board as some of these may conflict with your own business needs.
Sally’s talk and the following discussion were thought provoking, insightful and engaging. We are already looking forward to the next of these events.
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