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

Callout Image

Jean
Tomlin OBE

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

Callout Image

Louise Wilson

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

Callout Image

Lynne Weedall

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

Callout Image

Simon Linares

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

Callout Image

Valerie Gordon-Walker

Gaining broad experiences to position yourself for a NED position

Callout Image

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

Callout Image

More on this topic

Factsheets
Leadership in the workplace

The basics of leadership and how to develop leaders in the workplace

For Members
Factsheets
Modern slavery

Learn what modern slavery is, as well as HR's role in preventing and tackling it

For Members
CIPD Viewpoint
Responsible business

Explore the CIPD’s point of view on responsible business, including recommendations for employers

More case studies

Case studies
Case study: MoJ embarks on landmark HR Leaders Development Project

Ministry of Justice builds leadership capability, cohesion and mutual trust across its HR leadership team

Case studies
Case study: Biffa

How Biffa partnered with the CIPD to achieve full endorsement of its new management development programme

Case studies
Menstruation and menstrual health: Northern Care Alliance

This group of hospitals and community facilities developed a holistic Well Women Strategy to provide support beyond parents and carers

Photograph of Victoria Smith, HR Director and Head of the HR Profession in Defence, UK Ministry of Defence
Case studies
Case study: Ministry of Defence

How the CIPD is partnering with the UK Ministry of Defence to target workforce planning capability

All case studies