The coronavirus pandemic has had a vast influence on the world of work; leaders are having to come to terms with a new, likely hybrid, organisational future, whilst many firms have been forced to reassess the viability of their business models to fit the changing trends in user behaviour, with a focus on digital commerce.

However, one trend that wasn’t highly touted as the pandemic progressed was the push for the installation of non-executive directors in many major FTSE100 companies – a trend that has arisen as a result of struggles to fill executive vacancies.

In 2020, firms such as Rolls-Royce, whose business has been massively impacted by restrictions in physical working environments, and Flutter, the parent company of gambling giants Paddy Power and Betfair, perpetuated this new trend with the hiring of Warren East and Peter Jackson, consecutively.

Others to have recently hired NEDs include Entain, the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, who recently welcomed the appointment of Jette Nygaard-Andersen as Chief Executive, and educational publisher Pearson, who hired ex-Disney exec Andy Bird as its new head.

One of the most noteworthy hires in recent months was the appointment of Next boss and longest-serving FTSE-100 Chief Executive Simon Wolfson as Non-Executive Director at fast-growing food delivery business Deliveroo.

Will Shu, Deliveroo’s Founder and Chief Executive, told The Guardian that Wolfson would bring “great knowledge and insight to the company and help us in our mission to become the definitive food company”.

And whilst FTSE100 firms are leading the charge, a look below the surface sees this new trend proliferating among the entire corporate landscape; Dublin-based bank AIB Group recently confirmed that ex-DCC CFO Fergal O’Dwyer would come on board as an independent NED; Yorkshire-based engineering firm Carclo also recently announced the appointment of Frank Doorenbosch as Non-Executive Director and brand agency Rationale also confirmed that it would continue to grow with the hire of former J.Walter Thompson Hong Kong Chief Executive Mark Webster as an NED. The list goes on.

Why the move to NEDs?

Whilst the reasons for the uptick in the volume of non-executive directors among FTSE100 companies may be many in volume, it seems that most are looking for as much outside experience as possible.

As Analyst Nils Pratley recently told The Guardian, “A director already on the board knows the company and the strategy but should also bring experience from elsewhere.” NEDs can bring with them a wealth of experience, knowledge, contacts and ideas – as well as the ability to provide constructive analysis and criticism.

In times of volatility such as the current pandemic, this valuable insight and ability to think with the agility of a somewhat outside perspective can be the difference between continuing to prosper and losing core market share.



In this increasingly challenging world and with the number of business leaders choosing to build a Non-Executive career on the rise, the importance of recruiting good Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) is becoming more focused. 

For those wanting to start a NED career or are looking to increase their value, the Black Country Chamber is offering an in-depth understanding of the role and responsibilities of a NED, including legal obligations, personal liabilities and expected duties, during two, half-day bespoke sessions.

Delegates will learn about the latest Boardroom best practice and principles, helping to develop personal key skills to better influence the Board and deliver more effective outcomes. The course covers improved and more informed decision making, viewing challenges more objectively and how to increase confidence and effectiveness to operate at Board level as a NED.

Delegates will hear from an Executive Search professional, to better understand the process of recruiting NEDs and how to give themselves a competitive advantage. All participants will also be awarded a certificate demonstrating their commitment to becoming an effective NED and be registered on our NED Directory.


Day 1 – 15th June | Day 2 – 22nd June | 9am-1pm


SESSION 1: THE COMPANY – principles of corporate structure


  • key features of a limited company > legal status; company constitution; concept of limited liability

  • power & control > the relationship between shareholders, directors and management

  • shareholders rights > financial return; participate and vote at shareholders’ meetings; receive information on the company

  • directors’ legal duties > Seven General Duties (Companies Act 2006); the Reasonable Person Test 

SESSION 2: THE BOARD – purpose & functions

  • the board’s role > providing effective corporate leadership; the difference between direction and management

  • the key tasks it should undertake: 

  • establishing a vision, mission (purpose) and values 

  • setting strategic direction 

  • delegating to management and overseeing performance 

  • exercising accountability to shareholders and other stakeholders  

  • capabilities of successful boards > right mix of people + positive challenge and debate


SESSION 3: NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS – how do they add value 

  • company > reasons for appointing a NED

  • personal > choosing to become non-executive

  • adding value > key NED contributions; personal attributes needed to be successful; productive questioning  

  • potential challenges


SESSION 4: EXECUTIVE SEARCH SPEAKER (possible areas to be covered)

  • the recruitment process

  • promoting yourself

  • commonly sought skills and people usually avoided

  • fees

NOTE: All participants of the course will automatically be added to our NED Pool, a new service linking individuals looking for NED roles with organisations looking to recruit a NED.

For more information visit: Director Development - Black Country Chamber of Commerce

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