A SCHEME aimed at offering those looking to take on non-executive director roles the chance to sit on a board has been renamed to more accurately reflect its purpose.

Originally known as Board Apprentice, the scheme is now called the NED Development Programme. It is run by the GTA University Centre and aims to develop and diversify the local NED pool by offering aspiring NEDs the opportunity to gain practical experience sitting on a partner board.

Since launching in 2015, 11 people have completed placements with three going on to be appointed full-time to a board. There are 22 aspiring NEDs signed up to the scheme waiting for placements with a further eight currently sitting on host boards. Two other boards are going through the placement process.

‘The scheme has been incredibly successful and to have participants already sitting on boards is testament to the value of this approach. Becoming a NED requires ongoing development including training and real-life experience,’ said GTA University Centre programmes manager Michelle Morley.

‘Despite the success, we continually review the programme and there was some question over the use of the word apprentice which doesn’t reflect the seniority, expertise and business acumen that those joining the scheme have. We feel the time is right to rename it to the NED Development Programme.’

The unique programme involves training, including accounting and corporate governance sessions with Deloitte and legal and corporate governance sessions with Appleby, and a 12-month placement on a partner board, where participants are mentored by an experienced board member who will provide guidance and support and share their knowledge and expertise. The scheme also offers participants free membership to the NED Forum, enabling them to attend NED Forum training sessions and networking events.

‘NEDs fulfil a valuable role to boards, companies and the wider economy. We are aware that there is a dwindling pool with a huge amount of experience and knowledge. The value of the next generation of NEDs having the ability to learn from their peers should not be underestimated,’ said Mrs Morley.

‘Developing NEDs have different skillsets and approach to life and business which isn’t often found on long-established boards. Younger NEDs can be a breath of fresh air but they need to be given the chance to gain experience which is why this programme is so important to the future success of local businesses and to the economy.’

Mrs Morley said the renaming of the scheme will coincide with a raising of the scheme’s profile to encourage more partner boards and participants to join the programme.

‘Participants need to have experience at executive management level and having already served or reported to a board, now be looking into moving into a NED role. A selection committee reviews all applications to ensure that the person has the suitable skills and experience and then matches them to the partner board which they believe will be most appropriate and an interview is undertaken before an offer will be made,’ she said.

‘It is a very considered process because we want to ensure both the partner board and the participant gain as much as possible.’

Anyone wanting more information can contact Tina Torode, NED Development Programme Co-ordinator by emailing tina.torode@gta.gg or by phoning the GTA on 721555.

Profile on participant Gillian Browning

Gillian Browning has been director of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission’s fiduciary supervision policy and innovations division for three years and joined the NED Development Programme last year. She is completing her board placement with Guernsey Electricity.

‘In my day job, I spend a lot of time looking at the corporate governance of our licensees and how their boards operate. I felt joining the programme would therefore give me invaluable insight into the challenges boards and non-executive directors can face as I would have practical experience and a better understanding.’

She said the decision had been based on a number of reasons.

‘Personal development was the biggest reason. I work closely with financial services, I wanted experience of a different industry and it has been fascinating getting to know more about Guernsey Electricity. It’s been incredible energising and I have learnt an enormous amount, which I hope will benefit the Commission who have been very supportive of the idea.’

Mrs Browning said the board at Guernsey Electricity had embraced the opportunity as much as she had.

‘They have been very welcoming and made it clear they didn’t want someone to sit and not make a contribution so while I have not been a voting member, I have still been very active. It’s been great to have the chance to observe the individual roles more closely and understand how issues and opportunities evolve, discussed and then progressed.’

She said she had learnt a considerable amount.

‘It has given me more insight into the challenges boards face and reinforced what good corporate governance should look like. It’s also been interesting to see the commonalities between boards even in different sectors such as interaction with shareholders and with other jurisdictions. It has taken up much of my own personal time but it has been a valuable and rewarding experience and I’d definitely recommend it.’