On Thursday 3rd September 2019, SWiFT held a workshop for SWiFT Blue Members.
The workshop “Furthering your career: getting ready for your first NED role” was attended by over 100 guests and included presentations from Karen Wilson, Chief Executive, Hoggett Bowers and David Brown, Managing Director, Hoggett Bowers and a panel discussion moderated by Charles Johnson-Ferguson, Partner, Corporate Finance, PWC.
Panelists were experienced Non Executive Directors (NEDs):
- Alison McKinna – Non Executive Director/Change and Transformation Consultant/Operations Director
- Anit Chandarana – Finance Director, Network Rail
- Caroline Fawcett – Non Executive Director, RSSB
- Ed Simpson – Director, The Legal Director
- Rob Brighouse – Chairman, East West Rail
- Susan Evans – Director, Rail, Bridges and Structures at AECOM
who talked about their own experiences as NEDs and took questions from the audience.
One of the key insights of the workshop was that the best ways for women* to get board experience in the transport industry, as well as a sure-fire way to open up a better gender balance at senior levels, is to think laterally and become an NED.
We heard that the world of NEDs is still male-orientated though it is an improving picture, that Non-Executive Directorship is a route that women* may have traditionally overlooked, either because of lack of C-suite experience or some misunderstanding of the role of the NED and are often not sufficiently prepared for the interviews. But moves are afoot to change this dynamic.
The workshop served to break down some of the barriers that could be holding individuals back, including the need for support in the industry from male allies, and gave new insights into the steps that should be taken for women* to progress their careers. That included some basics about understanding what a NED is and does, the sometimes onerous responsibilities it entails, and how women* can best prepare for such a role.
*At Women in Rail and SWiFT, the words “woman”, “women” and “female”, when used by the team, span the nine protected characteristics, including age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability and sexual orientation, as well as broader behavioural and background diversity, such as thinking and personality types, socio-economic background and life experience and include women who are transitioning and non-binary people.