December 6th: Becoming a Non-Executive Director

4 minutes

On the 6th of December 2023, we held our final event of the year for our CMO Community....

On the 6th of December 2023, we held our final event of the year for our CMO Community. Partner and 3Search Executive lead, Rowan Fisk, brought together an excellent panel of marketing NED who have transitioned from Chief Marketing Officers to the coveted Non-Executive Director (NED) role.

Attendees heard from:

  • Chris Clark, Chairman at Aviva and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, formerly Chairman at UK Athletics and formerly Group Head of Marketing at HSBC 
  • Celia Pronto, Non-Executive Director at Samworth Brothers, Moto Hospitality and South East Water, formerly Managing Director at Love Home Swap and formerly Chief Customer & Digital Officer at Casual Dining Group
  • Mark Evans, Non-Executive Director at The Marketing Society and Emma3D, Chair of the School of Marketing, Trustee for OnSide, Advisor to Saracens Rugby, HMRC, Accenture and Save the Children. Formerly CMO at Direct Line Group and CEO at 118118 Media

Together, they discussed how CMOs can become a Non-Executive Director themselves, including:

  • Why become a Non-Executive Director?
  • How to find your first NED role?
  • Finding the right role for you

Continue reading to find out the key takeaways from the morning’s conversation.

Why become a Non-Executive Director?

Rowan kicked off the conversation by asking our panellists, why they become a NED and what attracted them to the role. The Non-Executive Director role appealed to each of our panellists for different reasons. 

Here are some reasons why you should become a Non-Executive Director:

  • Flexibility – while you might have meetings at unsociable hours, this frees up your day for other activities that aren’t usually possible in a traditional schedule.
  • Variety – you could choose to become a member of multiple boards, which allows for much more variety in your career.
  • Purpose – your skills and knowledge as a CMO can be used to support the growth and day to day running of a wide range of businesses. This unlocks a unique sense of purpose.

How to secure your first Non-Executive role?

From there, the conversation moved on to how you might become a member of a board and find your first NED role.

Development opportunities in your current role

Before searching for your first Non-Executive role, Chris Clark suggested seeking out development opportunities within your current role and responsibilities. 

“It's about understanding what you’ve got."

You might find that you’ve already developed a number of transferable skills, but there are always ways to develop within your current role.

Are there any internal committees that will allow you to develop your skill sets or knowledge outside of marketing? For instance, you could support on sustainability or technology transformation and implementation internally. This allows you to make meaningful change within your current role and will help you secure your first NED position.

Skills to develop

Celia Pronto followed this advice by sharing which areas you need to upskill in in order to become a board member. 

Non-Executive Director skills:

  • Data – as a marketer, you have a unique perspective on customer data, an area that the board of directors are becoming increasingly interested in.
  • Financial acumen – how well do you understand P&L statements? If you struggle, get closer to your CFO and finance team or take a finance course to build your understanding.

“We are inquisitive, and we are curious."

It's crucial to continue expanding your knowledge in these areas as well as topics that boards are increasingly interested in. Currently, these include technology, sustainability and customer knowledge. Continuing to expand your knowledge in these “trending” topics, will help prepare you for your NED career.


Networking is key for Mark Evans, who shared the importance of attending events like this one.

“Networking is critical to landing your first role or future roles."

Mark shared that for the variety of his current roles, he has only ever been in an interview process for two of them. All other opportunities have derived from his connections and network, which is why it’s crucial to have conversations with people in spaces like this.

Finding the right NED role

Knowing the role and business is right for you is key when looking for a Non-Executive position. You’re making a significant, long-term commitment by choosing to join a board, as your term normally last between six and nine years.

“I turned down my first offer of a NED role."

As a result, the panellists shared the importance of being clear on your criteria and motivations. As you’re legally responsible for the organisation, it’s incredibly important that you make the right decision. 

A big thank you to our NEDs

A big thank you to Celia, Mark and Chris for joining us at our final Chief Marketing Officer to Non-Executive Director event! These events have been truly insightful and influential for hundreds of CMOs.

We'll be holding even more events tailored to our CMO Community in the new year. If you’re interested in joining us, register your details below to be among the first to hear from us.

Introducing 3Search Executive

The final event in this series was the perfect opportunity for us to launch our dedicated Executive Search practice, 3Search Executive

Having built our digital and marketing recruitment agency over the past 10 years, it was the perfect time to launch our commitment to the senior market. Partner, Rowan Fisk, joined us to spearhead the development of our executive search practice two years ago. Having made a number of successful C-suite appointments, we’re now launching our dedicated sub-brand to signify our commitment to building marketing leadership.

If you’re looking to grow your career, be sure to get in touch with the Executive Search team.

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