Photo: board meeting

My first NED role

Securing your first NED role is the toughest nut to crack but is transformational in progressing the non-executive phase of your career.

As one experienced NED told us:

Getting your first NED role is nearly impossible....getting your second is inevitable!

At NED Career Services we asked experienced non-executives to share their general advice and/or the specifics of how they secured their first role.

We asked them to focus on how they uncovered the opportunity, i.e. the networking bit. In the vast majority of cases a pattern repeats. One of their existing contacts provided either, a direct recommendation to the opportunity, or an onward referral which led to accessing the opportunity. Therefore it is imperative to network. You must inform all your contacts of your non-executive ambitions.

Our transition service prepares you to network effectively for that first role.

Read the “My first NED role” stories and advice below.


Your network is the people who want to help you, and you want to help them, and that's really powerful.

Reid Hoffman, co-founder LinkedIn

People respond well to those that are sure of what they want.

Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief Vogue

My first NED role

  • I had been thinking for some time that my then exec job might be my last. The big questions were “how?”, and “when?” to make the transition to non-exec.

    The first ...


    Paul Gilbert

    Portfolio Chair / NED including NED The Gym Group plc – former CFO Matalan

  • I had been planning an iNED career for a while but didn't know where to start. I learned early on that perhaps 85/90% of the iNED roles I would enjoy and be strong at will ...


    Duncan Crocker

    Portfolio Chair / NED including Chair STM Group plc – former Managing Director of L&G’s UK Intermediated Housing & Mortgage Sector Business Unit

  • I began by mixing non-executive and part time executive chair roles. The first non-executive/advisory role came through a contact with whom I had worked on a turnaround for ...


    Julian Nicholls

    Portfolio Chair / NED including Deputy Chair Horsforth Holdings, Chair 1Life Management Solutions, Chair OBL Group - former Group Managing Director Reliance Security Group plc

  • My first NED roles came via 3i. They appoint external (to 3i) NEDs to represent their interests and I knew their senior Director who looked after this side of their business. ...


    Rick Wills

    Portfolio Chair / NED including Trustee the National Trust – former Managing Director British Airways Enterprises Ltd

  • I used the BVCA Directory to identify PE houses that had an interest in investing in technology centric businesses. I shared my CV with about 40 via email, targeting the PE ...


    Steve Curl

    Private Equity Chair Viking Moorings, MachineWorks, Lightworks, SMD, Arkex, Tessella, Preservica, Tharstern – former COO PII Group Ltd

  • During my executive career an ex-colleague introduced me to the owner of a local engineering company. My ex-colleague had started working there and invited both his boss and ...


    Mike Blenkinsop

    Portfolio Chair / NED including NED McDermott Building & Civil Engineering Ltd – former CEO Olaer Group

  • My first NED role came about because a local company was looking to float and needed to find a number of commercial NEDs ahead of this. They were particularly interested in ...


    Sean Christie

    Portfolio Chair / NED including NED Turner & Townsend LLP – former Group CFO Croda International plc

  • My story is I explored lots of avenues and spoke to lots of people. In the end the first NED role came from LinkedIn jobs bulletin board - a source that I hadn't expected, but ...


    Mark Harrison

    Portfolio Chair / NED including NED Courier Facilities Ltd – former Group CFO City & County Healthcare

  • I joined FKI plc as MD of a small engineering business within one of its divisions. Over the next 6 years I progressed to Divisional MD then to Group MD and was then invited to ...


    Reg Gott

    Portfolio Chair / NED including Chair Filtronic plc – former CEO Nuaire Group Ltd

  • For me it was all rather like the proverbial waiting for hours for a bus and then four come along all at once. Whilst still employed as a full time executive I came close to a ...


    David Davies

    Portfolio Chair / NED including NED Petrofac plc – former CFO OMV AG