Friday, 31 October 2008

I can't find time to do my two jobs

(By Richard Holway) I am a fan of Lucy Kellaway’s column in the Financial Times. It started, of course, with the wonderful and much missed Martin Luke’s emails, but Lucy’s current “how to deal with modern day problems” is also a good read.

Yesterday her “I can’t find time to do my two jobs” really struck home. It was all about a CEO with a non executive appointment. In these troubled times, both roles were demanding much more of his time. But now was hardly the time to resign as an NED. What should he do?

I have held over 20 board appointments in the last 20 years. I think my record was five at the same time and rarely less than three. There is an important rule that all thinking of going down that path must understand. Extra work always hit multiple companies at the same time. A few years back I remember that as one of my companies was preparing for an IPO, another was preparing a major hostile takeover bid nad yet another had hit a major cashflow problem. All demanded extra Board Meetings and acres of reports read.

I am not suggesting that you can’t cope with multiple directorships. Just don’t count on them all ‘just’ requiring ‘one day a month’. They never do anyway and, as I said, chances are they will all require extra time at the same time.

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