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How managing partners can add 'significant value' as NEDs

Preparation at least two years in advance is key, warns Beverly Landais

23 July 2015

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Managing partners approaching retirement are ideally suited to take on a non-executive director role at a company, charity or other law firm.

"Law is big business," Beverly Landais told Managing Partner. "The leadership of successful law firms can potentially add significant value as NEDs."

She continued: "The senior partners and managing partners in charge of these entities necessarily gain significant experience in developing strategy, managing change and negotiating the expectations of their stakeholders.

"The experience gained and the learning along the way of what works, what doesn't and why, can be translated into valuable insight as a NED. The key is to enhance this experience by developing broader-based commercial expertise."

Currently marketing and BD director at Saunderson House, Landais was previously CEO at Devereux and director of marketing and BD at Baker & McKenzie.

She believes that managing partners should start developing a broad base of skills and experience at least a couple of years before the end of their term in preparation for the role change.

She has suggested the following ways to create a pipeline of opportunities as a NED.

Do

  • Tell people that you are looking for a role - they may not think of you as a potential NED if they don't know you are looking.

  •  Ensure you can put in the necessary time to be effective, as being a NED is a serious undertaking these days.

  • Try to find someone who is already an experienced NED who would be prepared to mentor/sponsor you; just an hour's meeting every couple of months would be invaluable.

Don't

  • Be put off by initial rejection; every role depends at least as much on the chemistry between the board members as on their individual skills and experience. If you don't get a role, it doesn't mean that you wouldn't be a good NED, it just means you're not right for that particular board.

  • Become a NED if you are not ready to become a 'critical friend' to the executive rather than driving the business - it will not end happily!

Landais' thoughts on how to transition to the role of NED and how to plan for a secure financial future are provided in 'From MP to NED: Kick start your next career as a non-executive director'.

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