Portfolio NED: Millennium & Copthorne Hotels plc, (a FTSE 250 listed company), BNY Mellon, Wells Fargo International, Big Society Capital, ARCA Fondi SGR, Stichting Administratiekantoor
Building a NED portfolio quickly!
I first heard about WOB UK via a friend, a few years ago now, probably in 2014 or 2015 when I set myself the objective of building a strong non-exec portfolio.
I’ve been a senior banking executive in the UK for 25 years, but the first NED role I got was actually back in Italy (the country of my origin) – this was at the suggestion of a headhunter who advised me that my international experience in London would be of particular interest to Italian organisations and that I’d probably get my first NED role more quickly if I started there, which is what I did. It was in 2015 and I was offered a role on the board and risk committee of a top asset manager.
I realised pretty quickly that networking was going to be really important in terms of building a UK NED portfolio and I threw myself into relevant networking events. At these events, I kept hearing about WOB UK and the work they did, and so I joined WOB and started to attend more and more of WOB’s meetings, talking to Fiona and finding out about other extremely useful initiatives such as the FTSE NED networking group.
“WOB’s member emails about current NED vacancies were top of my reading list, especially looking out for financial services opportunities which is where I saw my NED career specifically.”
I saw the BNY Mellon and Wells Fargo roles advertised via WOB on their vacancy board, applied and eventually was offered both on the same day which was a great boost to my portfolio!
WOB was and remains one of my main channels and networks for building my portfolio, alongside a few select headhunters that I already knew. I always found though that the headhunters channel was generally too slow and that they are not prepared to take any risks in terms of putting “new entries” on a shortlist – they fish in the same pond of existing connections mainly which is very frustrating. I knew I needed a networking strategy that would activate and open up opportunities beyond the headhunting channel – and WOB UK played a key role there.
“The WOB networking opportunities and connections are so much wider and more varied, and absolutely invaluable for anyone looking to build a strong post-executive career, non-executive portfolio as well as starting out looking for a first NED position.”
As my portfolio and experience grew, I applied for, was offered and accepted another international NED role, this time in the Netherlands and then most recently, again via WOB, I took on my latest NED position at Big Society Capital, in Q1 this year. Which is perfect given my passion for impact investing. So that’s a portfolio of 6 NED positions in a couple of years, 3 of them thanks to WOB UK! My most recent board role is with FTSE 250 Millennium & Copthorne Hotels plc.
At the moment. I’m done, but in 3-5 years I’ll be looking for a bigger role as Chair or in a FTSE 100 organisation. I’ve already renewed my WOB membership as I’m absolutely 100% certain that WOB UK will continue to play a big part in my continued NED portfolio development.
You guys are always “in the flow”, keeping an eye on the market for members like me, so I’ll continue to come to events too, even though at the moment my portfolio is “full” in terms of my initial objective. I’m completely committed, and I tell everyone I know going through the same journey that they need to join WOB UK.
This article is based on an interview recorded in 2018 (available on podcast).