Finding Non Exec Director support – for CEOs and directors

One of the most significant and unrealised opportunities for the Scale up companies that I speak to is in fact one which is often not known to them: the potential positive impact of having a Non Executive Director involved in their business.

Late in 2017 I gathered a small group of people to talk through the challenges associated with employing a Non Executive Director. We discussed the process from end to end:

REALISE – Come to the realisation that NEDs can make a valuable contribution to the business.

RECRUIT – Undertake the recruitment and selection process objectively and with your goals for the board in mind.  Recognise that the very nature of board engagement and interaction is often littered with nuances, ambiguities and conflicts.

REFINE – Establish a way of working that is mutually beneficial and effective.

RETAIN – Build the relationship and involvement to reflect both parties’ interests and expertise.

RELEASE – Feel confident bringing the relationship to an end on positive terms at the right time. Independent directors may lose their independence and their valuable external viewpoint if their involvement is too greatly extended and the board will need to evolve to serve the stage of the business.

Of course, these categories were designed to draw out challenges related to the engagement of an individual – there are a further set of potential pitfalls for a scale up leader who will need to navigate the added complexity of coordinating a board. You can read more about the discussion we had previously here:

Since then, both Nick Sturge and I have continued to have interesting discussions on the topic – and to explore potential services and support that would enable more businesses to benefit from NED engagement. In 2019 we hope to bring another group together to explore what’s possible and necessary – particularly as ‘reinvestment’ of experienced entrepreneurs into the region’s growing businesses is a pillar of our entrepreneurial ecosystem that needs further development. If you would like to be involved in this session, please get in touch – my details are below.

Support & services:

I have gathered some local resources, both for those companies seeking NEDs and for those professionals and experienced entrepreneurs who are contemplating a future role as a NED:

  • Transpire: Connects growing companies with great Directors and offers a network, training and 1:1 support for NEDs
  • Moon Consulting offers a matchmaking service to bring NEDs together with companies who need them –
  • Nurole is an online service which ‘connects outstanding business leaders with organisations seeking the best talent.’
  • The IoD offers a course to ‘equip people with practical strategies to build their network, raise their profile to secure an appointment, and add value in the boardroom.’ As well as networking and general CPD support to directors and trustees
  • The SETsquared Centres in Bath and Bristol are often seeking mentors and support. SETsquared Bristol in particular works with diverse professionals with relevant experience who are matched to their Business Review Panel sessions and Mock Boards for member companies:
  • Wheale Thomas Hodgins works across the public and private sector to help deliver successful Board Appointments, both Executive and Non-Executive including Chair and CEO
  • Vicky Grinnell Wright is a business, culture, people and C21st org strategy consultant and executive & team coach. Vicky loves working with entrepreneurs and organisations to help them innovate, grow and scale through the creation of happy and high performing teams. Contact: or through LinkedIn:
  • Ann Holman helps fast growth companies through business mentoring, strategy, building capability at Board Level.
  • Boardroom Advisors provides experienced part time directors
  • If you know of any other support that’s available related to NED appointments locally, please drop me a note on the email below.

Related Articles & Research:

Our friends at Moon Consulting kindly shared this great content with us – to explore why and when to engage a NED:

Our Lounge Member, the Institute of Directors, also have a factsheet on the role of the NED:

In July 2018, our friends at TLT worked with UWE’s Business and Law School, The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Transpire and Practice to write an extensive report on the subject of Non Exec Directors:

In July this year, Nick Sturge, himself a Chartered Director, offered some reflections in his regular comment piece in the Engine Shed newsletter: If you’d like to sign up to the newsletter, do so here:

This blog is written by Briony Phillips, Scale up Enabler for the West of England as part of her work to help inform and support fast growth companies in the region. If you’d like to know more about her work, please explore the website she’s put together:  If you’d like to be part of this discussion, or add a perspective, please contact me