Monday, 3 November 2008

Perils of being both a CEO and an NED

I received the following response to my “I can’t find time to do my two jobs” post of 31st Oct 08. It was from Jane Tozer MBE who has had a distinguished career both as an executive (Jane was the founder of Softwright) and non executive director. Indeed Jane (as well as other current roles like being an NED at the John Lewis Partnership and several quoted UK IT companies) runs the IT Non Executive Directors’ Association - ITNEA.

Hi Richard

How right you are about the difficulty of combining a CEO role with NED role(s), certainly if this is a ‘big’ CEO role. Has the fad for appointing a FTSE100 CEO or FD as a NED faded at all? A few years ago, everyone seemed to want someone from a FTSE100 company. I've seen them as non-execs many times, and they just can’t do justice to it, the real job quite rightly has to come first. Then if either company requires extra time, for whatever reason good or bad, it becomes completely impossible. Plus, the final straw, as you say, is that the extra time is quite likely to be needed in both or several companies simultaneously, especially in times of a market downturn. I had 3 companies in serious trouble just after September 2001, and you can’t tell Company A sorry I can’t do my job here, because Company B is also in trouble!

Interesting that the excellent Lucy Kellaway is onto the problem, maybe the fad will finally fade, I certainly hope so!

Best wishes

Well, if anybody has the right to comment on this issue, then Jane has!

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