September 14th: How to become a Non-Executive Director

4 minutes

On September 14th, 2023, we held our penultimate event discussing how Chief Marketing Office...

On September 14th, 2023, we held our penultimate event discussing how Chief Marketing Officers can transition into a Non-Executive Director role. This was our biggest event yet, with a room full of 80 CMOs ready to hear from our expert panel: 

  • Chris ClarkChairman at Aviva and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, formerly Chairman at UK Athletics and formerly Group Head of Marketing at HSBC   
  • Jennifer Roebuck, Formerly Chief Customer Officer and Non-Executive Director at Ted Baker, Non-Executive Director and Chief Marketing Officer at Sephora 
  • Mark Felix, Non-Executive Director at UCAS and AA Media, Group Chief Marketing Officer at The AA, formerly General Manager on Group Executive at Moneysupermarket 

Hosted by our Executive Search Partner, Rowan Fisk, they discussed a range of topics including: 

  • How to find your first Non-Executive Director role 
  • Turning advisory roles into a career as a Non-Executive Director 
  • Developing a portfolio career 


How the panellists found their first Non-Executive Director role 

Each of our panellists had unique stories as to how they transitioneinto this role. This is something that we have seen consistently across each of our CMO to NED events – there is no set path, and each journey is very personal. 

One of the more common routes, however, is being asked to support the scaling of small businesses or advise not-for-profit organisationsThis is how Mark Felix started his own NED career. Having taken an interest in becoming a Non-Executive Director, he took on his first opportunities with start-ups. 


Turning your first Non-Executive role into a career 

Once you have gained experience as an advisor within a start-up or charity, you might be wondering how you can go about developing your career as a Non-Executive Director. 

“Seize every opportunity you get.”  

Mark’s advice to anyone who is at this point in their career is to make the most out of everything you doSpeaking to the CMOs in the room, Mark told them, “Whatever you do, do it well and doors will open.” 

When you’re looking for a Non-Executive Director roleit’s common that the positions find you through a headhunter or recruiter.  

In fact, this was Jennifer Roebuck’s experience when she found her first Non-Executive role at Ted Baker. Jennifer’s CV was a great match for the Non-Executive Director job description and so she was asked to interview for the position. 


Developing a portfolio career 

There are many routes that you can take following a career as a Chief Marketing Officer. The lack of a linear path is one of the main reasons we decided to hold these events in the first place – to give CMOs a clearer understanding of what the right step is for them 

Your options include: 

  • Fractional CMO 
  • CEO 
  • Non-Executive Director 

Jennifer shared how she has chosen to undertake a combination of all of these and develop a portfolio career. 

“You never really know what gig is going to find you.” 

Choosing this route is undeniably “unsettling”, as Jennifer put it, as you never know what your next role will be or where it will come from. However, there are steps that you can take to ensure you always have opportunities available to you. 


Personal branding and networking 

If you’re a senior marketer looking to undertake contractual/fractional work, your personal brand is going to be a key tool in your arsenal.  

Jennifer invests in her personal brand by sharing content she’s passionate about on LinkedIn accompanied by her thoughts and insights, as well as taking the time to attend events, such as this one. By spending time building her platform, she has found herself in “amazing opportunities and rooms, meeting amazing people every week.”  

Chris Clark shared the importance of being generous with your time when growing your network, whether this is in the form of mentoring an individual or speaking on panels to rooms full of people. For Chris, it’s really important to give back to his communities and this has allowed him to connect with so many people. 


Answering more of your questions 

The CMOs in the room asked some excellent questions and we're only sorry that there wasn't enough time to hear from you all. If you have any burning questions that weren't answered at the event, be sure to reach out to Rowan at and he'll be able to pass them on to our panel.  

Plus, keep an eye on our LinkedIn page and website, as we'll be sharing more insights with our community of marketing leaders soon. 


Missed this event? You have one more opportunity to join us  

This event was our penultimate discussion about how Chief Marketing Officers can transition into a Non-Executive Director role. Next year, we’ll be discussing a new topic with our community of CMOs – stay tuned for more information coming soon! 

Join our CMO Community for more

A big thank you to our speakers for joining us at this event and sharing your insights with our community of Chief Marketing Officers. 

If you're interested in seeing more, join our community. 3Search Executive is our dedicated search service for Marketing Leaders. Our headhunters are dedicated to supporting you in growing your career.

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