Category: Advice

Considering a Non-Executive Director Role? Here's why you should

Article by Tim Dare – Managing Director, Mosaic Search & Selection

I founded Mosaic Search & Selection in 2000. At that point I had spent over 10 years in the educational publishing sector as a Sales & Marketing Director, and had begun to sense that there was a gap in the market for senior level recruitment agency specialising in publishing. Today, over 20 years on, Mosaic operates internationally, across a global network of executive search and recruitment organisations. We work with offices in more than 35 countries, and have a focus on specific industry expertise.

My primary role is Managing Director of the company, but I also head up the consultancy team responsible for the Education and Business Information sectors. Outside of Mosaic, I was previously the non-executive Chair of Gloucester City Homes, an independent housing association that manages – amongst other things – over 4,500 homes and 52 homeless units. In addition to all that, I, like most people my age, enjoy my hobbies – polo and mountain biking especially – and spending time with my family.

While my lifestyle can be busy and hectic at times, working in several positions at once has had a massively positive impact upon my professional life, my personal development, and the success of my company.

I stepped down as Chair of GCH’s Executive Board as I have reached the maximum permitted tenure (social housing is a regulated sector). After 13 years in the role, I came away feeling strongly that this experience has shaped me as an individual and as the manager of a company. I believe that holding a non-executive role at an outside company can do wonders for your own business. To get a better idea of why, read on.

What is a non-executive position?

A non-executive position in a company is one that plays no role in the management or day-to-day running of the business but works with the Board and Executive team to set the direction and strategy and take responsibility for the Governance of the business. In my case, I acted as non-executive Chair for the Board, which means that I am not an employee of the company or involved in the detail of how it is run (although carry responsibility for this as Chair). Instead I draw on my outsider perspective to offer guidance and counsel and ensure the best input from the other Board members.

In my time at Gloucester City Homes, I have helped to steer the organisation through some significant changes, and to overcome a variety of obstacles. Today GCH is a successful, award-winning housing organisation that does a huge amount of good for the community. Our awards include Customer Service Excellence (where we achieved full compliance or compliance plus in all 57 areas), ISO9001, Diversity Champion Award, Positive about Disabled People, The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Not For Profit Companies to Work For, Investors in People Gold.  GCH works in a Government regulated sector and the company has been graded as G1, the highest level for Governance.  All things I have personally learned about!

A non-executive director role does have a number of specific responsibilities.  Be aware of these, but please don’t let them put you off.

What are the benefits of holding a non-executive position?

My experience at GCH has taught me that working in a non-executive position at a company outside of your own can have huge benefits – both for your own business and the outside organisation.

The first benefit might simply be described as “personal growth”. I have found that working for a charitable organisation has kept me connected to the needs of the community in which I live and work.

Chairing a company that is so different to my own has also provided an exciting challenge that has led me to think creatively about areas such as strategy, budgets, use of significant financial products, compliance, resources and logistics. I have learned a great deal about operating in an unbiased and pragmatic manner – as Chair it is my job to remain objective. All of these skills have shaped me into a better leader; one who is fair, practical, adaptable and – perhaps most importantly – socially aware.

In addition to helping me fulfil my duties as Managing Director of Mosaic more effectively, working as non-executive Chair for GCH has also given me a key insight into different modes of working and operating a business. In my time at GCH I have observed a range of different management and workflow techniques and received training in key areas such as finance and risk management, which I have taken back to Mosaic.

The third key benefit of taking a non-executive position is that you can do a huge amount of good for another company or charitable organisation. A non-executive Chair is someone who can lend credibility to a company, opening them up to further business opportunities. More importantly, they are capable of seeing the bigger picture.

As someone who is not employed by the company, the decisions of a non-executive Chair or Director aren’t dictated by any private interests; we can also avoid being caught up in the complex minutiae of management that sometimes make it hard to see the wood for the trees.

Those of us in a non-executive role can act as a bridge between the company and the wider world, offer objective advice, and be relied upon to make the really difficult decisions. We’re also great people to have on board when any disputes arise!

What’s the best way to be recruited into a non-executive position?

If you’re currently working in a senior position and you think you could bring something special to a non-executive role, especially in the charitable sector, I urge you to get involved.  Your skills and experience can help others while you learn new skills to benefit your business and career.  Speak with businesses which operate in areas that interest you.  Also, approach specialist recruiters who will also have contacts in these companies.

If you are a Chair or CEO of a business, consider encouraging your senior team to take NED roles and allow them the time.  Their personal and professional development will pay dividends!  This can also be an important and integral part to any Corporate Social Responsibility policies that lagers companies often have.

Mosaic Search & Selection Ltd can help businesses find senior executives and non-executive Directors.  Please get in touch if you would like to discuss this.  More information can be found at or call us on 01242 239147.

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