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Search is on to find region's t- non-executive director dynamic; EVENTS.


Would VW be in its current toxic situation if it had more effective independent scrutiny? COULD a good non-executive director have helped Thomas Cook avoid their continuing woes? One theme that has emerged over this series is that there are very important distinctions between a non-executive and an executive director.

It is salutary to speculate how the company might have developed. The structure and governance of VW with its supervisory board is different from uK firms, but it would appear that there was a lack of people asking the tough questions.

Last year's winner, Alastair Waite, puts it like this: "To be a good nonexecutive director, you must have worn the shoes and walked the same paths as the executive directors you are trying to support".

In the uK, the non-executive director has a very clear role and duties in corporate governance. They have responsibilities to the company, its shareholders, employees and customers. They must ask those tough questions.

He believes the non-executive should already have a successful track record. They will have been involved in developing strategy and growing a number of different businesses.

The days of the Non-executive director being appointed because he is a friend, golfing partner or one of the usual suspects are long gone.

This background and experience will give them the ability to be most effective. For Alastair Waite: "One of the key differences between the executive and non-executive director is that the non-executive must be fiercely independent in expressing their views."

the non-executives are there to provide independent judgement and to look beyond the pressures of daily operational issues. - non-executive director is expected to contribute to the success of the organisation between board meetings. They are not there to accept the directors' reports in the boardroom.

a good non-executive director will add value to the enterprise, be it financial or social.

They will bring the weight of their experience, a calm head, a dispassionate questioning and an objective perspective to the board table.

" The use of the word 'fierce' may be surprising, but it is a sign of how much importance Alastair attaches to the independence of the non executive. Yet, he does not see the role as combative. He goes on to say, "Then they must go on to foster a healthy environment for debate and- non-executive director may be able to become an ambassador for the BUSINESS or be able to use his or her own networks challenging issues, in order to make."

to help to build an effective management team for the future. They will be expected to guide, mentor and influence members of the management team to focus on the long-term future of the BUSINESS. They will be expected to test thinking, confirm plans are robust and support executive directors' on the next steps.

Such independent debate and challenging may have averted the problems at Thomas Cook. Yet, this 'fierce independence' should be tempered by the softer skills. Alastair Waite describes the need for the non-executive to be a people person. "They need to be respected and a source of impartial advice."

Perhaps a stron- non-executive director would have encouraged the VW team to look beyond the engineering perspective and passing regulatory hoops.

This critical independence was emphasised in the second article in This distinction between executive and non-executive is complex in family BUSINESSes, such as VW, because the roles can bring the this series, with past winners of the Non-executive of the Year Award setting out their views of what makes nonexecutive directors different.

the directors and it can be hard to relinquish that role. In family BUSINESSes the non-executive director needs to be able to challenge as well as support. The firm but tactful intervention of the Non-Executive Director may make the vital difference between success and an inevitable decline.

John Josephs was categorical: "The key difference is of course independence." This independence and clarity of vision gives the non-executive director the freedom to be a coach or mentor to each member of the executive team.

The judges of this year's Non-Executive Director of the Year award work to promote and rewa- non-executive directors who have made that vital difference. They have a 12 point checklist they use to advise anyone considering taking on a non-executive role: He or she will be able to offer advice and support across a whole range of issues, while those strong people skills will be able to help build a stronger team and reduce inevitable frictions.

1. What do I have to offer the |board - and the organisation? The executive team will individually and as a board, be able to use the non-executive director as a sounding board to test out strategic options or express doubts and concerns in private.

2. Where can I add value or |provide support which does not already exist? Then the non-executive must stand back. They are not there to run 3. how will I identify the right |board for me? the business. They must relinquish control and be comfortable that decisions are being made and actions taken which you will not know about.

4. have I carried out rigorous |due diligence on the organisation? This can be a difficult lesson for the non-executive to learn. The non 5. how much time can I give to |the organisation? executive director will undoubtedly help with the development of strategy for the business and its relationship with all the stakeholders. They need to critique and challenge the options and contribute to the development of the strategy - but not to implement it.

6. And how much time are they |expecting me to give outside board meetings? 7. Am I prepared to learn? | This is what Alastair Waite describes as 'the ability to take a helicopter view of the business' which enables the non-executive director to influence the business.

8. Will it be fun? | 9. Will my current employer/|partners encourage me? 10. What induction am I being |offered? Finally, the good non-executive director will have his or her own, strong, professional and business networks that can be called upon to support the business at key times. This personal commitment can be very persuasive in negotiations: it is a demonstration that the non-executive director is prepared put their personal reputation on the line for an organisation that they do not control.

11. how will I know I've been |successful? 12. Who will assess my contri-|bution? NIghT AWARDS NIGHT THE winner of the Non-Executive Director of the Year award will be announced at a ceremony on November 12 at the Newcastle Marriott Hotel, Gosforth Park.

THE winner of the Non-Executive Director of the Year award will be announced at a ceremony on November 12 at the Newcastle Marriott Hotel, Gosforth Park.

The chosen top executives in three sub-regions -- Tyneside & Northumberland, durham & Wearside and Teesside -- will be crowned on the night and then The chosen top executives in three sub-regions - Tyneside and Northumberland; Durham and Wearside; and Teesside - will be crowned on the night and then go head-to-head for the title of North East Business Executive of the Year 2015.

head-to-head for the title of North East Business Executive of the Year 2015.

To reserve a table, or for further information, go to or contact Lesley Hampson, events manager, on 0191 2016435or by email at lesley.hampson@trinitymirror.

To reserve a table, or for further information, go to or contact Lesley Hampson, events manager, on 0191 2016435, or by email at


NoN-ExEc chEcklIST North East Business Executive of the Year 2014 - non-executive director of the year, Alastair Waite and sponsor Margaret Fay <B

Lewis Arnold
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 9, 2015
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