Are you considering a career change?

Perhaps you are searching for an incredibly rewarding, important role with plenty of autonomy.

Or maybe you are already working your way up the career ladder and looking for ways to make the step up to a new role.

Have you considered becoming a non-executive director?

While it is certainly not an easy career to get into, the rewards you receive from doing so are fantastic, and it is a role that brings plenty of fulfilment and reward.

Quick takeaways

  1. A non-executive director supports the business with strategic development, future planning, and expertise from other business experiences.
  2. Non-executive directors do not get involved in the day-to-day management of a company, instead focusing on future planning and strategy.
  3. To become a non-executive director, you must have particular personal qualities, just as working independently and the ability to think outside the box.
  4. Independent directors may need to take a volunteer non-executive director role in order to gain more experience before a company’s board considers them for a paid role.
  5. More information here about NED salaries in the United Kingdom


Non-Executive Director: Explained in More Detail

Firstly, let’s look at the definition of a non-executive director. For anyone not experienced with the role, it can be hard to understand the difference between non-executive and executive directors.

However, there are some significant differences.

While non-executive directors also sit on the board of directors, they are not involved in the daily affairs of the business.

Instead, they act as an independent advisor, overseeing long-term strategies and future planning to help steer the brand in the right direction.

They also handle company policies and everything from the perspective of someone outside the business to offer unbiased opinions and advice.

Responsibilities of a Non-Executive Director

Review performance

Your primary objective as a non-executive director is to look at the performance of the brand and its management team and establish whether goals and objectives are being met.

As part of that task, the NED might even be required to give opinions on letting staff go or hiring new staff, which is why an objective mindset is imperative.

Strategise the company’s direction

As well as reviewing the current performance of a business, it is also the role of the NED to strategies and guides the senior management team with the strategic direction of the business in the short and long-term future.

NEDs must oversee the overall corporate strategy, play devil’s advocate and constructively criticise it, and offer a holistic view for the executive team to factor in while making plans.

Manage risk

Another essential responsibility of a non-executive director is risk management. That includes creating plans and strategies that bring the business forward but in a way that mitigates and manages risk.

Sounds tricky, right?

Well, that’s why the NED’s role is so important and valuable and must be handled independently!

As a NED, you will monitor financial performance and communicate with stakeholders to ensure the business is secure.


One aspect of a NED’s role that many people do not think about is networking. This aspect of the role is essential, as these connections can add value to your business and help the brand achieve its aims.

Qualities a Non-Executive Director Must Have

Think BIG

While an internal team will focus on creating a strategy for the business, it is the NED’s responsibility to challenge those plans and then try to utilise their business experience to offer advice and guidance on improving it.

A NED is constantly thinking about the big picture, looking holistically at the brand in question, and trying to keep it moving forwards.

Know legal responsibilities inside out

A NED must also know any legal duties the organisation has and ensure they operate within those guidelines and responsibilities.

Non-executive directors act as the bridge between actions taken and legal requirements, which is incredibly important as a business continues to grow, and their responsibilities grow too.

Independence is vital

When working as a NED, you will often find yourself in a position where you need to offer a completely unbiased opinion on something and offer guidance that helps the company see success.

That means discarding short-term considerations.

Ignoring personal issues.

Thinking completely independently.

This mindset ensures you maintain your integrity, and a company can trust you to do the right thing for the overall business, even if that isn’t the right thing for you.

Passion and drive

Finally, while the idea of working as a NED might sound appealing, it is also incredibly demanding, stressful, and time-consuming.

The only way to overcome this? By living and breathing the work that you are doing. There might be difficult times when tough decisions need to be made and long hours need to be worked. You need to be ready for these times and ensure you have the right energy, passion, and drive to help the business come out the other side in a better position than before.

Steps to Become a Non-Executive Director

As you can imagine, the role of a non-executive director has highly sought after, as it offers lots of independent work, decision-making, and work fulfilment.

However, there are a few steps you can take to start your journey toward becoming a non-executive director.


Firstly, the easiest way to gain experience as a NED is to volunteer your services at a non-profit or charity. Not only will this allow you to continue improving your skills in a real-world situation, attending board meetings, and overseeing projects, but it also shows potential employers how serious you are about becoming the best NED you can be.

A win-win.

Find someone to shadow

What’s the easiest way to learn about the day-to-day requirements of a NED?

Following their every move, of course.

Once you find a mentor willing to let you shadow them, use that time to gain insights into how the board works and their work process and build your network and CV.


Finally, if you cannot find a volunteer role or a mentor you can learn from, all hope is not lost!

Suppose you have the time and money to invest in your future career. In that case, you can take several courses and qualifications to upskill yourself and become a more attractive NED perspective for businesses.

Final Thoughts on How to Become a Non-Executive Director

As you can see, becoming a NED is not the easiest career to get into, but once you do, you will find yourself in a career where you find plenty of job satisfaction, your opinions are highly valued, and the work you do matters.

Who doesn’t want that from their day job?

To help you find a path into the world of a non-executive director, contact our friendly, highly experienced team. We will be happy to assist with all of your inquiries.



Frequently Asked Questions About Non-Executive Directors

Does a non-executive director get paid?

As with any job, a non-executive will get paid based on how much the company values its NED’s input. For voluntary NED roles, there will be no payment.

What is the difference between executive and non-executive directors?

Executive directors are directly involved with the day-to-day running of a business, whereas a non-executive director oversees the business less frequently, focusing more on future planning.

Who qualifies to be a non-executive director?

Anyone can train to be a non-executive director, as you could for any other paid position within a business.