Key takeaways: How to transition from Chief Marketing Officer to Non-Executive Director

4 minutes

On Wednesday, 15th March 2023, we held our first event for Chief Marketi...

On Wednesday, 15th March 2023, we held our first event for Chief Marketing Officers looking to transition into a Non-Executive Director role.  

Led by our Executive Search Partner, Rowan Fisk, we were delighted to welcome CMOs to hear from leading Non-Executive Directors from a variety of industries. Our expert panel was comprised of: 

Carol Welch, Managing Director at ODEON Cinema Group, Non-Executive Director at Hammerson and Digital Cinema Media and formerly Global CMO at Costa Coffee 

Gareth Helm, Non-Executive Director at Purplebricks and Higgidy, formerly Global CMO at HomeServe and formerly SVP, CMO at McDonald’s 

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 


Together, they discussed a wide range of topics about how to make the move into a Non-Executive Director role, including: 

  • How to know that the transition to plural / NED is right for you  
  • How to leverage your unique experience and network to find a Non-Executive Director role 
  • What role should a CMO play on a board? 

How to find the right Non-Executive Director role 


There is no right or wrong way to find your first Non-Executive assignment. Each of our panellists had very different experiences when it came to securing their first opportunity, from being headhunted to seeking out opportunities themselves.  

However, one thing remained consistent for each of the panellists - the importance of making sure the opportunity is right for you. This is due to the fact that it's a significant, long-term commitment. NEDs are contracted to a business for at least three years, but it’s preferable to commit to six. 

“Know yourself before you start.” 

Chris Clark advised spending some time getting to “know yourself before you start”In fact, this was corroborated by Gareth and Carol, as when asked for one piece of final advice, each of our panellists gave a question that CMOs should answer before searching for NED roles: 

  • How are you going to contribute to the business? What sets you apart? 
  • What is it that you want to gain from the opportunity? Does it fit alongside your other commitments? 
  • Why do you want it? What matters to you and your goals for the future? 

Understanding the answers to these questions will improve your chances of finding the right NED opportunity for you. 


Utilising your experience and personal story to find a Non-Executive Director role 


Each paneliist had been on a very different, very personal journey. Each have utilised their unique experiences – be it career or life-based – to build their career and secure their Non-Executive Director roles. 

Hearing their personal journeys, revealed how leveraging your life story can help you stand out from the crowd and secure that next big career move. 


What role does marketing play on a company board? 


One key question asked at the event was surrounding the appetite for marketing on the board, and what impact your skills, knowledge and experience as a CMO can have. The resounding answer from the panellists was around customer experience.  

“I’m expecting to be the customer in the room. If you’re a CMO that's been appointed to a board, the expectation is you'll be a proactive voice for the customer.” 

As a Non-Executive Director, you need to be prepared to study a business and its customers. Carol Welch shared just how important the learning process is, giving insight into how the board meetings are run. There is no dedicated time to discuss the customer. Rather you, as the marketer, must recognise when and where to speak up on behalf of the end user. 

Answering more of your questions

There were some brilliant questions asked at this event and we're only sorry that there wasn't enough time to answer all of them. If you have any burning questions that we didn't manage to get to, be sure to reach out to Rowan at and he'll be able to pass them on to our expert panel of NEDs. Plus, keep an eye on our LinkedIn page. We'll be sharing more career insights with our community of marketing leaders soon. 


Missed out on this CMO to NED event? Secure your place at the next one now 

If you missed out on this event, don’t panic! This was just the first of many discussions we will be hosting about how Chief Marketing Officers can make the move to Non-Executive Director. If you’re interested in finding out about future events and receiving more advice about furthering your career, register your interest below.


How can we further support your CMO career?  


3Search is a marketing recruitment agency based in London, Greater Manchester and North America, providing the best recruitment experience you will ever have. Whether you’re searching for your next opportunity in marketing or hiring a new member of your team, we can support your growth. 

If you’re looking for support in filling your digital marketing jobs, get in touch and one of our specialist recruitment consultants will be in touch with you as soon as possible. 

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