With workforce issues rising up the corporate agenda, there is a growing need for expertise around people matters on boards. Many of the challenges currently faced by organisations come down to people management, including hybrid working, closing skills gaps, talent attraction and retention, EDI and workforce mental health.

It’s therefore not surprising that CIPD research suggests an increasing openness from hiring chairs around appointing people professionals as non-executive directors.

Senior HR leaders bring expertise to boards in the following critical areas:

  • remuneration
  • succession planning
  • people data
  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • organisational change
  • team dynamics
  • general leadership and strategic accountability.

As one HR director-turned-NED explains:

"I noticed in the early years [of being a NED] that the board didn’t understand the strategic importance of the people agenda. And the HR profession suffered because of that. Now there is more recognition about the importance of the people agenda…I’m beginning to hear people say: 'I need somebody who understands how I move my people, this large, monolithic global organisation, from where it was to where I need it to be.'"

So, if you are an HR leader with aspirations to build a portfolio career of non-executive directorships, what do you need to consider and how do you position yourself for success?

We interviewed six HR leaders about their transition to non-executive director. They give advice for HR leaders on:

  • what to expect from a NED position
  • how to find your first NED role
  • what key milestones in their careers have given them the skills they needed
  • how to add value from day one when you’re in position.

Read our case studies below.

Barry Hoffman

Finding the right NED role and understanding your accountability as a board member

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Tomlin OBE

Finding a NED role that shares your values and how to make an immediate impact

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Louise Wilson

Understanding the time commitment of a NED role and the skills you need to act as a ‘critical friend’

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Lynne Weedall

Thinking through your aspirations to become a NED, what you hope to achieve and what value you will bring

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Simon Linares

Deciding whether a NED role is for you and knowing the difference between executive and non-executive roles

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Valerie Gordon-Walker

Gaining broad experiences to position yourself for a NED position

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HRD to NED: How to advance
your career

Insight from board-level headhunters and HR leaders who have landed NED roles to help you set yourself up for success

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