Boards of the Future – The modern ‘Plural Career’

21 April 2018

With the increased legal responsibility on Non-Executive Directors through the new Senior Managers Regime we are seeing high quality talent not moving from their executive roles into the traditional plural NED career.

So, what can organisations do to make sure their boards can deal with the profound changes we are seeing through the technological and cultural transformation of businesses? Being sometimes referred to as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, we are about to have a disruptive period of rapid change and innovation.

It will be crucial for the leadership of many established incumbents to understand and seize the positive opportunities offered by digitalisation, and technology more generally, while also responding effectively to the threats posed by it. Accenture Strategy highlighted five dimensions of digital transformation that are raising critical challenges for large companies and their boards of directors:

  • new sources of competition
  • the pace of disruption
  • impact on society
  • increased transparency
  • the potential to accelerate change in existing sustainability-oriented products and services

These challenges raise far-reaching issues for boards. Whilst some of the trends are predictable, others are subject to substantial uncertainty, which is amplified by the complex and interconnected nature of these issues. There is a clear need for boards to ensure they are sufficiently adept and agile in navigating this complexity.

In parallel, boards must become more comfortable with addressing ‘unpalatable truths’ and asking difficult questions about the future trajectory of the company and its industry sector(s). They will also have to determine how to balance long-term value creation with short-term volatility and an unprecedented rate of disruption to the established way of doing business.

Having worked within the interim management sector for nearly twenty years I have seen how this industry has evolved. Back in the late 90’s the profile of an interim executive was very different from that of today. Traditionally they were executives who were financially secure but still wanted to work flexibly on short term assignments where they could add value and insight. Today they are less interested in undertaking longer term full time assignments but work more on a variety of short term advisory roles.

This advisory work can cover:

  1. Diagnostics for large transformation agendas
  2. Pre and post IPO
  3. M&A and post deal integrations
  4. Banking License applications
  5. New technology platforms
  6. New product development or new markets
  7. Cultural transformation, Diversity & Inclusion
  8. Mentoring and development for key employees

The structure of these is unique to each business, it could be one person for a specific task or a team to be responsible for a total statement of work, the flexibility is down to your requirements.

Jane Kennedy who helped oversee the integration to Partnership Assurance and Just Retirement as COO commented:

“Having recently embarked on a plural career, it is becoming clear that my expectations of following the traditional path have been significantly challenged. Whilst there are still great opportunities and indeed requirement for diverse Independent NEDs to expertly oversee, challenge and strategically navigate businesses through the disruptive environment we find across all sectors. Increasingly it has become clear that for many, particularly fast growing organisations, or those significantly impacted by the digital revolution, short term access to expertise is very attractive to support business ambition and this is another way of sharing experience and skills as part of a plural portfolio.”

NSCG is transforming the way companies and executives connect for advisory work, delivering flexible on-demand advisory solutions for any business need.

Companies can get the right advice at the right time. This flexibility has not really been exploited by the market today, as it isn’t financially rewarding enough when compared to full time contract roles, but at NSCG we are utilising our well known and trusted network differently to meet this demand.

Our methodology enables us to do this. It defines, measures and demonstrates success. By starting with the endpoint – the desired outcome – and mapping out the best way to achieve it, we deliver results. It’s the methodology we follow to scope the challenge, define our clients desired outcomes, agree quantifiable objectives and measure performance.

The result? Better outcomes, delivered quicker, ensuring value for our clients.

Our four-stage methodology, which is outlined below, enables oversight and performance management of our associates to generate better outcomes:

  1. Definition
  2. Identification
  3. Measurement
  4. Results

Working with the most experienced and highly regarded members of our network we have created a pool of executives looking to add value to organisations on a purely advisory basis. We work with organisations to provide clear, defined statements of work meaning there is no grey area to what success look like.

From our experience the best results are driven when prospective advisors have no pre-existing relationship with the company or its management team.

If you would like more information on any of the specialist services offered by NSCG to support your business challenges, please contact us.

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