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New directors

2022 UK Spencer Stuart Board Index

2022 Snapshot

 18 %

of board members are newly appointed

 48 %

of new non-executives are first-time listed company directors

 27 %

of first-time non-executive have a background in financial services

New directors

In the 12 months covered by this report, 198 new board members were appointed to the top 150 companies, representing a 13% board renewal rate.

The majority of new NEDs (58%) hold at least one other board role and have a portfolio career (52%) — meaning they hold only non-executive director roles. The average age of new NEDs is 56.7 years, younger than the average age of 59.9 for all board members.

90% of new NEDs have executive experience in the same industry as the new board they have joined. Similar to the wider group, 35% of new directors have previous executive experience in financial services (35%), especially in the banking (12%) and investment (12%) sectors.

The most commonly seen executive roles held by new directors are general managers and other executive, divisional or regional positions just below C-level (28%), followed by group CEO at (26%).

% New directors on the board
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
All board members 15% 12% 14% 15% 14% 18% 13%↓
NEDs 16% 15% 16% 16% 11% 17% 17%→
   Women 34% 39% 43% 57% 50% 52% 60%↑
   Minority ethnic 8% 13% 10% 12% 14% 19% 27%↑
   Foreign 41% 36% 42% 41% 36% 48% 52%↑

New chairs

Eleven new chairs were appointed in the past year (a renewal rate of 7%); two of them are women. Anita Frew has led the Croda International board since 2015 and joined the Rolls-Royce board as chair in October 2021. Elizabeth Corley has been a non-executive director on many boards since starting her portfolio career in 2010 and is now chairing one (Schroders) for the first time.

Omid Kordestani led the Twitter board as executive chair from 2015 to 2020 and has taken his first non-executive chair position, at Pearson. Naguib Kheraj is also taking on his first appointment as chair of a quoted company, at Petershill Partners. He has been chair of a private company, Rothesay, since 2017. Both have self-identified as having minority ethnic backgrounds. Other newly appointed first-time chairs are Stephen Hester at easyJet, Gordon Hurst at Darktrace, and Edward Braham at M&G.

Newly appointed chairs are on average younger (61.9) than the wider group of chairs (65).

New executive directors on the board

When looking at the new executive directors on the board, 8% (11) of CEOs were appointed in the past year. Among them, two are women and three have self-identified as having a minority ethnic background.

Poppy Gustafsson was appointed CEO of Darktrace in April 2021, having progressed internally since joining the company in 2016 as co-CEO for the EMEA region. Roisin Currie was appointed CEO of Greggs in February 2022 after a 12-year career in the company, where she started as group people director.

C. S. Venkatakrishnan has been an executive at Barclays since 2016 when he joined as chief risk officer; he was appointed CEO in November 2021. Kiet Huynh is also an internal appointment, having risen through Rotork since 2018 to the CEO role in January 2022. Deepak Nath became CEO of Smith & Nephew in April 2022. These three new CEOs have self-identified as having a minority ethnic background.

Of the 89% of boards which have sitting CFOs, 16% (21) have been appointed in the past year. In this group, there are eight new women CFOs, two of whom have self-identified as minority ethnic. Three male CFOs self-identify as minority ethnic.

The majority of new CFO appointments in our survey are external hires (52%).

First-time NEDs

48% (71) of newly appointed non-executive directors are joining a listed company board for the first time — the highest share on record.

Proportion of newly appointed NEDs taking on a board role for the first time

The proportion of women among first-time directors has climbed again (54%) after a brief decline in 2021 (43%), whereas the proportion of foreigners remained stable at 52%.

88% of first-time directors with a minority ethnic background (24%) are in an executive role in addition to their directorship; only 12% have a portfolio career. Unlike last year, most first-time directors with minority ethnic backgrounds are women (58%).

This year’s cohort of non-executive directors is, on average, older than the 2021 group (56.2 vs 54.2 years), but still 3.7 years younger than the average of all NEDs (59.9 years).

The most common industry background among first-time directors is financial services (35%) followed by consumer (20%), in similar proportions to the wider group of NEDs. The vast majority of first-time directors have experience in the same industry as their new company (91%).

The most common functional background among non-executives joining the board for the first time is general manager (34%).

Functional background of new directors and first-timers