Part Two: Women on Boards & Beaumont Bailey – How to Stand Out as a NED

Beaumont Bailey Director & Head of Investment, Amanda Floyd, was recently invited by Women on Boards as a guest speaker for its Working with Headhunters member webinar. Rachel Tranter, Executive Director of Women on Boards UK, led the session in which she and Amanda addressed a number of questions from the Women on Boards network and spoke candidly about some of the challenges facing NEDs in today’s climate and shared advice on how candidates can stand out when looking for board roles. The audience was a diverse mix of seasoned NEDs and aspiring NEDs and it was so pleasing to see such a large turnout and high levels of engagement.

Defining your values & motivations

To stand out from other candidates when searching for new NED roles, the most important thing to remember is to be clear about why you are looking to build a portfolio career. What are your values and motivations, and how are they relevant to the businesses you want to work with? Additionally, you should be clear in what you think you can bring to a board and what they are looking to get out of it. Be thematic rather than chronological when presenting experience. Once you have defined these reasons and motivations, make sure the messaging is consistent across your LinkedIn profile, CV and any other public-facing profiles.

How to get noticed

  • Get to know key search firms – multi-national organisations and boutique firms like Beaumont Bailey.
  • Get support – consider joining Women on Boards for advice, connections and 1-on-1 pre-interview support.
  • Utilise the platforms available – Nurole, Connectd, LinkedIn, plus industry and function publications.
  • LinkedIn – change your profile to reflect your NED status, be clear about your intentions and consistent across all public channels.
  • Networking – Private Equity Houses and search firms run NED dinners
  • Events – senior industry events are great opportunities to network and many executive search firms run them.

Preparing for your first NED role

If you are looking for your first NED role, approach the process as though you are changing your career and entering a new sector. What experience do you have from your executive career that will be valuable as a NED? Think about your motivations and what different types of boards will be looking for. Charities and Not-for-Profits, for example, will value altruism whereas Private Equity businesses will value commercially focused motivations. Once you have defined your values, profile, experience, motivations and aspirations, it is important that you can concisely summarise your proposition – a quality elevator pitch helps candidates stand out from the competition. Discipline of thought is, after all, a key attribute in NEDs.

When approaching NED work for the first time, it is important to think clinically about your transferable skills. For example, your board experience and interface in an executive capacity or your observations and learnings as an employee. Which achievements in your career are pertinent to the role? Managing transformational change, turnaround, growth and M&A experience are all great experience and can often be aligned with a new organisation’s strategy. It is also sensible to be practical about limitations you have, the level of hands-on experience for example, however, make sure have thought about how you can compensate for this.

Seeking out new opportunities in your current work environment can also help when applying for your first NED role. Get involved in topical company initiatives, such as diversity, data and digital. Seek to gain greater exposure and opportunities to present to the executive committee and board that will improve communication and stakeholder management skills. It is also important to demonstrate that you have considered. Make sure you have really thought about the investment (time and emotional) and what a steep learning curve it will be if it is your first NED role.

Finally, it’s a numbers game, don’t be put off if. It may take you many applications and a few processes for you to land a role. The hardest one to land is the first one!

Third-party training

Third party education and training can be an excellent way to differentiate yourself. Qualifications and education show that you are serious and invested about this career choice. Courses, certifications and pro-bono advisory roles are all fantastic ways of demonstrating you are passionate and committed to a portfolio career.

Beaumont Bailey recently worked with a candidate for a Pensions Fund NED role, who voluntarily took the time to complete The Pensions Regulator (TPR) Trustee toolkit (a free online learning programme) ahead of client meetings. The board members conducting the interviews were impressed with the knowledge gained and the candidate’s willingness to learn and set themselves apart. Some other courses and initiatives include: FT Board Director Programme, MosaicNED – INED programme and the PwC NED Accelerator Programme.

CV Top Tips

  • A personal statement is a must! Your personal statement is a great opportunity to capture and discuss your values, your interpretation of the NED role, and the values, behaviours and executive experience that makes you suitable for it.
  • Remember to include your communication style. Including a summary of your soft skills is always important and gives an opportunity to demonstrate you live by your values.
  • It is always useful to discuss any executive roles, board experience and interaction with NEDs in your executive career.
  • Remember to list any board appointments, sub-committees or external trustee roles e.g., school governors, nomination committee and collaboration working groups

In the NED space, Beaumont Bailey is actively hiring NEDs onto Corporate Boards, PE & Fund Boards, Trustee Boards and Strat Advisors to tech firms and scale-ups. Our assessment capability and rigour sets us apart and we incorporate this into all leadership and Board hiring processes. We have developed an assessment platform that supports businesses to improve their org leadership through team and cultural benchmarking and improving the selection process to promote diversity across all dimensions and in turn cultural diversity.

To find out more about Beaumont Bailey’s partnership with Women on Boards or about the Investment and Board Solutions practice, then please email Amanda Floyd:

Find out about joining Women on Boards: