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Steve Murrells - Working with NED's

6 months ago by

​Did you miss our NED conference? As part of the event, Steve Murrells, CEO of Hilton Foods shared his experiences of working with Non-Executive Directors.

Here's what he had to say:

I’ve had about 35-40 years in retail now and it’s been a real privilege to work with some of the brightest thinking non-exec directors in my time. I’ve always found them extremely helpful in many areas in a way they’re the cheerleaders of any organisation because not only are they there to bring insight and experience but they’re also there to make sure the management team feel motivated and supported. They can operate effectively well across any type of business it doesn’t have to be a PLC.

I see it work extremely well in previous businesses I've worked in. Still, over the years of commercial roles I’ve played, I’ve seen NED’S work well alongside private equity businesses, family-run businesses or entrepreneurs. They can add value at all levels. What’s most important when you’re thinking about creating a board and getting the right skills and talent around the table is where are your strengths and where are the areas that you want to bring more insight into the organisation.

There was a point in my career where we knew digital was the new paradigm and were light in terms of technical skills on the board. Most of the board members like me were over 50 so thinking about what digitally we required wasn’t going to come from our thinking. We went out and did quite a novel thing, we found 10 of the youngest entrepreneurs in the country who had made considerable money through start-ups and then picked one of them, a young guy under the age of 30 to sit on the board as our digital expert. And that’s just an example of the types of things that you’ll want to think about is it digital? Is it commercial? Is it ESG? Would you want another practising CEO on the board, getting that balance like any other team is critical for the chairman to do. Because they add the value that you otherwise might have missed.

I find confiding in my board extremely helpful before meetings and in-camera sessions after meetings. It's someone you can talk to in a way that you may not be able to talk to with your management and leadership team and their insights and experience help you step back and think radically and question the things that you’re doing. They’re there to bring curiosity to any organisation and remind you of the importance of the basics and working based on less is more. But challenging you in a way that makes you better and makes the organisation win.

The work that MorePeople are doing in this space is valuable and they play a pivotal part in helping any board get the right talent that’s needed for that business to grow and develop extremely well. I found NEDs as a cross-section of gender and of colour and race and I think that’s critical given what’s expected of businesses today and the responsibilities that we must create opportunities and products that are in tune with the society that we live in.

NED's are very valuable to any organisation because of the way they go about doing things and they will look at things through a different lens they’re there to challenge but they’re also there to support any business that has ambitions to grow and become better will see the value in getting the right NED in their organisation.