Nominations are now open for the Non-Executive Director Awards 2021.
Organised by investment bank Peel Hunt and supported by The Sunday Times, the accolades are the pre-eminent awards for non-executive directors in the UK.
Last year’s successful nominees included John Allan, chair of Tesco and winner of the FTSE 100 award, while Ian Durant, non-executive at bakery chain Greggs, took the prize for FTSE All Share.
The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Dame Alison Carnwath, former chair at Land Securities and one of the most highly respected board leaders in the City.
There are six awards open for nominations: FTSE 100, FTSE All Share, FTSE AIM, Private/Private Equity Backed, Not-for-Profit/Public Service Organisation and NED to Watch. The Lifetime Achievement Award is nominated by the judging panel.
A valuable exercise
John Allan says making a nomination is a valuable exercise because it encourages management “to think more fully than they might otherwise about the contribution that non-executives are making”.
“Non-executives tend to be very conscious of the contribution made by executives. We don’t ever forget that. But sometimes it’s a little bit harder for people to look the other way and see that their non-executives are actually making a very substantial contribution,” he adds.
Bernadette Conroy, winner of 2020’s Not-for-Profit Award, says: “An NED’s position is so important, particularly these days, because companies need really strong governance, accountability and responsibility.
“But it’s also a great growth opportunity, particularly for executives to grow into a non-executive role. Sitting on the other side of the table is a really great experience.”
Core qualities of a NED
The pandemic has placed non-executives in crisis mode as they work on aiding managers across all sectors work their way through the implications of lockdown and the economic crisis that followed.
Chair of judges Paul Drechsler says the NED Awards help underline the core qualities required in a non-executive. “The value and importance of these awards is to bring clarity, transparency and awareness to what excellence looks like.”
He adds that the pandemic provides a significant challenge for even the best non-executive board members.
“There is not much that is routine in board agendas but we know from experience it’s the unexpected that really tests us,” he says.
In an article for the NED Awards 2021 website, Drechsler has also offered some indication of what judges might be looking for.
“A good NED will show just as much commitment to the success of the business they are part of as their executive colleagues,” writes Drechsler. “They will have spent the time and effort to understand the business inside and out.
“But as they also provide an alternative, experienced perspective of the external factors affecting the company, their value is ever more clear when competition is tough and the political and economic environment is so uncertain.”
Nominations close on 29 November. A shortlist will be published in February and the awards will be presented in March. You can read more about the awards and make a nomination on the NED Awards 2021 website.