Nikki de Kretser

Non executive director and Chair of the Remuneration Committee at England Lacrosse and governor at St. Swithun’s school, Winchester

Investing in your career with Women on Boards

Here, Women on Boards member Nikki de Kretser (Chief Marketing Officer at Feefo) shares in her own words how non-executive work complements her career and how Women on Boards have been part of that journey:

“I stumbled upon Women On Boards two years ago via a recommendation from a friend and it really struck a chord.  Throughout my early career I had progressed very quickly and merrily sailing on, busy with the day job, had not taken enough time to really build out my network or anticipate the support I might need later on as a more senior, female executive.  Reaching early forties, I had a couple of setbacks in my executive career – to be blunt, I just felt I was not getting the C-suite opportunities I deserved.  I decided to explore a NED role in order to gain more board-level experience and apply my commercial skills to a new area, alongside my day job.

I followed the Women on Boards pathway quite religiously, first attending an Information Evening, dialling into several webcasts (highly recommend these), then attending two sessions which I found really critical: the Financial Literacy for the Boardroom evening and the Board CV Masterclass.  In particular the CV Masterclass was really powerful in helping to re-articulate my own skillset and value proposition, then packaging and promoting it using relevant language…. as a marketing professional this should have been quite easy but cobblers and shoes!!
Boosted with the confidence of a polished NED CV behind me, I started applying for a few roles in sport.  The role at England Lacrosse particularly appealed as I had spent much of my youth playing lacrosse and felt a connection with the sport. Throughout my application, the Women on Boards team were fantastic – first commenting on my CV, then putting me in touch with a member who at that time sat on another national sports board and was on the pulse of all the relevant issues. 

The conversation she and I had before my interview was gold dust in helping me key into the relevant issues and bring out my relevant skills during the meeting. I think it definitely tipped the balance for me and I was thrilled to get the role!”

One year on, it has been a fantastic learning experience and I have met so many interesting people from many different corners of the sporting world.  I have been heavily involved in the commercial advisory group, which is pushing the sport to become more commercial and less reliant on Sport England funding. 

Get out of your comfort zone

I have recently taken on the role of Chair of the England Lacrosse Remuneration Committee, working on future organisation structures, benchmarking salaries and creating staff retention initiatives.  This work takes me completely away from my day job and comfort zone but has been really rewarding. I have also completed a 6 week intensive Managerial Finance course through LSE this year which has given me a really thorough grounding in analysing financials, forecasting and company valuation – valuable knowledge for the boardroom. 

At times I have found it difficult to balance my executive role with NED duties, as there are definitely peaks with the non executive work which always come at the worst time!  I have recently been approached for and accepted a school governor role via someone in my network who knew my experience; knew that the school were seeking commercial/digital skills; and knew that I already held a non executive role.  This really does prove the value of getting the word out, not being shy and going for it!  
Overall, the support that I have received through Women on Boards has been fantastic. I am so pleased that I made this investment in my career.”

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