The changing board: None Executive directors’ skills

What would be the most required skills of a None Executive Director for the next five years on a Board level?

Would it be the ability to manage risks? The main takeaway from the last financial crisis?

Maybe the ability to cope with increased governance?

What about soft skills?

Harvey Nash asked 480 None Executive Directors and their answer was surprising. More than 45% of them indicated digital skills and technology experience as the required skills for a None Execs in the coming five years. This is by far more than any other skill the test group indicated.

Key finding:  Non-executives will be more involved in delivery due to increased business demand and legislation. Digital skills will be the most required specialist competency for non-executives over the next five years.

None executive director skills

Source: The Harvey Nash / Alumni Board Report 2017/18

The skills required for non-executive directors are evolving in the face of a challenging business environment. There is an increased focus on tightening risk management procedures, managing corporate governance, complying with tighter regulations, increased public scrutiny and an uncertain geopolitical landscape threatening economies. Boards must navigate companies through these challenges and perhaps this is driving boards to be more involved in the delivery of strategy in addition to being responsible for its oversight? As the nature and the complexity of the issues shift, it is inevitable that the role of the non-executive will have to change too. Digital is continuing to disrupt a wide range of functional areas across organizations and sectors, in some instances radically transforming them.

Alongside digital transformations that require keen oversight in order
to not become costly mistakes, companies must now contend with the threats and risks related to cybercrime and compliance with data protection standards. Cyber security is moving relentlessly higher in terms of priority. Each new corporate or political breach of that internet security underlines the need not just for corporate vigilance, but also proactive action. In light of this, more focus is being placed on picking up non-executives with a strong suite of experience and training in technology. Of the 480 board members who responded about where they thought non-executive behaviors and competencies would be shifting over the next five years, interestingly only 3 per cent of our respondents were from a digital background, but the frequency of their free text responses was overwhelmingly towards a need for in-depth digital knowledge.

• Extracted from: The Harvey Nash / Alumni Board Report 2017/18

Article written by David Dekel, CEO, Endeavour Enterprises NV

David Dekel, CEO Endeavour

David Dekel, CEO Endeavour. Author


1 Response

  1. We can confirm this trend. NEDonBoard is the professional body for NEDs & Board Members. We are launching a dedicated course on digital impact for NEDs. More info on

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