Super NEDs

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By James Brocket

I wrote a piece around 8 years ago – about the impact of Board hiring.

I re-read it recently and thought many of the observations in that article still ring true today. However, I was reassured with the thought that it’s clear that there are a lot fewer of our current clients that are wrestling with the sins and complications of the past than there were then. I do still feel that companies are underutilising their Boards though – or that they really should be more expansive and ambitious when they are putting their Boards together.

It seems to me that a lot of growth companies try and solve for all things with their Executive team hiring when some careful thought about areas that might be helped by NEDs or Advisory Board members would be well worthwhile.

Our pool of talent for NED roles in EMEA is deeper and far better than ever before. The number of globally successful, well scaled technology businesses with their HQ in Europe is probably tenfold what it was 8 years ago when I wrote this last article. Moreover, post-COVID its now quite normal for at least some Board meetings to happen virtually and so there really is no problem hiring US talent to join Boards or Advisory Boards of European companies. Given this, I’m surprised by how relatively few companies have been truly ambitious when hiring Board members and Advisors.

We’re currently working with an exciting AI software company. Admittedly, it has a high public profile having closed some very significant funding in the recent months, but the quality of the people we have been able to interest in a Board seat with that company has been incredible.

These ‘Super NEDs’ can often deliver a quantum shift to a business, with relatively little time invested. They bring network access to prospective customers, partners and investors, meaningful strategic input borne out of directly relevant experience and help with hiring great people. Small gains in each of these areas will elevate a company – but the impact of a Super NED can be truly transformational.

We have some incredible talent in Europe – we’re just not yet deploying it intelligently.