Non-executive appointments – Time for Fresh Eyes

Non-executive Board appointments are a growing part of the Jack Hammer business offering. Increased complexity around conflicts of interest and the need for impartiality and good governance is partly driving this. Board diversity is another. 

Interestingly, the challenges that emerge in sourcing high quality NED (non-executive director) candidates are similar to those we encounter with C-suite executive appointments. Namely, the demand for experienced black and female NEDs exceeds the supply. And further, many of the ‘known’, high profile professional NEDs with the relevant demographics frequently sit on so many boards that they have no further capacity for additional appointments.

The impact of this is that boards may sometimes need to consider bringing relative newcomers, without previous Board experience, but who nevertheless can add good industry, technical, functional or relationship value to boards. And, of course, diversity.

What these somewhat inexperienced new board appointments will need is exposure and some training. Something that not all existing boards are willing to offer, and hence seldom part of our NED search mandates at Jack Hammer.

In 2018, I was lucky enough to work with a board who was willing to expand their known horizons, and appoint a non-exec who had no prior NED experience. It was both a fulfilling and empowering project to be a part of.

In this instance, we worked closely with our client to identify women across a range of industry sectors, who had a demonstrable record of outstanding contribution or achievement in some form or another. Admittedly the best part of this project was meeting these incredible professionals, and seeing the wonderful talent out there in the market. Not yet with track records a mile long, but with tremendous potential for adding tangible value.  

And hats off to our client for applying fresh eyes to a talent problem, and gaining – in my view – an extraordinary new director of their board.


Author Info: Michelle Bedford-Shaw

Michelle grew up in a mining town on the Copperbelt in Zambia and moved to South Africa to finish school and then pursue a law degree. She completed her studies – and promptly disappointed her parents by deciding not to be a lawyer.

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