Build a portfolio career


MY first advice would be that you can hardly prepare too soon for a fulfilling and rewarding life beyond partnership or an executive leadership role. Taking on a trustee or non-executive role while remaining in your executive career is widespread and makes sense – to both your employer (by bringing wider experience of another business or industry) and to the employee (providing an outside perspective and strategic insight without being responsible for implementation). Ideally such roles are remunerated and will take around 15-20 days a year in total. Larger charities and professional bodies are also significant businesses in themselves and experience of working with volunteers can prove beneficial preparation for future appointments. Developing your personal network can also prove to become a multiplier in terms of other roles.

However, to those who are contemplating “building a portfolio” of non-executive directorships and trusteeships, don’t expect to secure a role on your first attempt. Competition can be surprisingly intense, even for unremunerated roles. Boards of some of the leading arts and cultural organisations are popular and positions are tightly contested. Positions in the wider public sector will also be advertised which will often yield an interesting field of candidates. This can sometimes be difficult for successful executives where a different skill set is required.