Things they won’t tell you about being a non-executive director

Things they won't tell you about being a non-executive director

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the big leagues!

You’re now a non-executive director, the king of the boardroom, the guru of governance, the master of meetings. But wait, what’s that? They didn’t tell you about the sleepless nights, the endless conference calls, and the pile of reports?

Well, buckle up buttercup, because we’re about to reveal the truth about being a non-exec director, with a pinch of humour, of course!

  1. Board meetings are not always as glamorous as they seem. In fact, they can sometimes feel like sitting in a never-ending lecture. So be prepared to be glued to your chair for hours.
  2. The boardroom is not a place for small talk. Instead, it’s where serious discussions happen, and the only thing you’ll hear is the sound of a gavel banging on the table.
  3. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. While you may have heard that non-exec directors are wined and dined, the truth is that you’ll be lucky to get a stale sandwich during the lunch break.
  4. You will have to read a lot of boring reports. So, forget about your beach holiday plans and get ready to spend your summer holiday with a pile of reports!
  5. Don’t expect to make any real decisions. As a non-exec director, you’re there to offer advice and guidance, not to call the shots. So, if you have an opinion on something, make sure it’s a good one!
  6. Don’t expect to be in the loop on everything. Information is doled out on a “need to know” basis, so be prepared for some surprises. This is especially true in SMEs.
  7. You’ll have to attend endless conference calls. These calls can last for hours, and you’ll be expected to listen attentively the whole time. So, grab a cup of coffee, and get ready to doze off at any moment.
  8. You may have to travel a lot. But don’t expect to fly first class. You’ll be lucky to get a window seat in economy.
  9. And finally, don’t expect to get rich as a non-exec director. The pay is not as good as you may have heard, and the workload is not as light as you might expect.

But the upsides are:

  1. You get to attend board meetings with fancy name tags, which can be pretty cool to show off at dinner parties.
  2. Board meetings are a great place to network and make new friends, especially if you’re into discussing financial reports and governance policies.
  3. You get to play “celebrity” status, as people tend to take you more seriously when they hear you’re a non-exec director.
  4. You get a great excuse to escape the office, even if it’s just for a few hours. And if you’re lucky, you might even get to visit exotic locations for a board meeting.
  5. You get to add “non-executive director” to your LinkedIn profile, which is sure to impress your friends and family.
  6. You get to play a small but important role in shaping the future of a company, which can be pretty fulfilling.
  7. You get to have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line, which is always a good thing, especially if you’re an investor.
  8. You get to learn a lot about how companies operate, which can be pretty valuable knowledge for your own business ventures.
  9. And finally, you get to say “I’m on the board of a company” and watch people’s reactions, which is always good for a laugh.

OK, so many of the points are more fun-poking than hard hitting facts; but being a non-executive director can be a challenging, but rewarding experience. Just remember, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, so be prepared for the ups and downs.

But at the end of the day, it’s all worth it when you see the impact of your work on the company and its stakeholders.


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