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Poaching NEDs for the public sector

Cabinet secretary Francis Maude has taken the lead in making substantive changes to the way in which government boards are populated and run. The most eye-catching change has been his intention to appoint a much greater number of non-executive directors drawn from the private sector.

To achieve this, Lord Browne of Madingley, the former chief executive of BP has been appointed as the lead NED. According to the Cabinet Office, ‘one of his first tasks will be to work with secretaries of state to appoint non-executive directors to the board of each government department’.

Clearly, Browne has the right credentials for the job: a glittering career at BP augmented by a number of high-profile non-exec roles at Goldman Sachs, Apax and SmithKline Beecham. However, finding people of a similar calibre is difficult: so the government is now beginning a recruitment drive to attract some of the brightest minds from the private sector to sit on public sector boards.