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Are you considering becoming a Portfolio Executive as the next stage of your career but aren’t sure if your professional background has given you the right skills?

In this article I share some examples of types of roles that can transition very successfully to work with a portfolio of businesses, bringing their specialist knowledge to each, typically for 2-3 days a month.

Being a Portfolio Executive is the kind of offer that’s increasingly well understood by SME businesses who realise that they can get real value for money from that kind of relationship. And it makes for a very rewarding workstyle, particularly as you enter the second half of your career.

You’ve probably heard about part-time Finance Directors and HR Directors working this way, but what if you are a Marketing Director, Creative Director, IT Director or a CTO? What if you have been doing something quite specialised like logistics consulting or product development? Is there really an opportunity to establish a life as a Portfolio Executive?

I firmly believe that there is, but you do need to get your positioning and targeting right and be clear about the value you bring.

Positioning your skills as a Portfolio Executive

The more I talk to people with different backgrounds and different professional experiences, the more I am noticing that if they position themselves as Portfolio Executives and target themselves to businesses of the right size, they can create extraordinary value for those businesses. But what makes the right kind of business?

The critical size for a Finance Director or HR Director might be between ten and fifty employees as a minimum. But, if you are laser focussed on the value that you offer, you can often bring that value much earlier in a business’s life cycle than you would expect.

For example, a Product Director could bring value to a company with their first product up and running and who need experienced help to come in and help them build the next one or help them to manage a portfolio.

Here are some more detailed examples of some esoteric roles that work well in a portfolio capacity.

The Creative Director

The Creative Director has typically been somebody who sits in a large marketing agency and brings enormous value through their understanding of that creative process. But working for a small organisation direct, and a portfolio of those smaller organisations, can be really enjoyable too.

I have worked with a lady who now has a portfolio of 4-5 Creative Director roles within different companies. She’s capitalised on the recognition that having really good branding, which is creative and consistent, massively changes the perception of an organisation in the market place. To achieve this requires more than somebody who can paint a nice graphic. Organisations need somebody who is going to think as a Creative Director and build that consistency across all of their customer touchpoints whether it is an event, a website, a blog, twitter feed, LinkedIn profile or a brochure.

You can see the credibility that brings. Working as a Portfolio Executive the Creative Director can enjoy a great lifestyle and workstyle, working for 4-6 businesses, 2-3 days a month.

The Insurance Broker

Take a very experienced Insurance Broker, someone who has worked for a large insurance company. They’ve been acting as a broker for commercial organisations and they now want to move from being on the broker side, to be an insurance buyer and take responsibility for the buying of insurance by companies.

Large companies will have one or two people working full-time buying their insurance globally, thinking about all of their insurable risks. However, smaller companies will need help with specific sectors and specific areas – which is where your experience comes in. You can help them with the risk management of that business and to make sensible decisions about which risks should be insured. You can also advise on how to mitigate the impact and manage the likelihood of those risks to get better insurance premiums.

If you have a business that is working in capital markets (and they may have a number of offices in different parts of the world but they are not huge) they could get massive value from having a part-time Insurance Executive in their team. Working with the Finance Director, Head of Risk, Operations Director and HR Director and making sure they are insuring the right things with the right excess, with the right mitigations, with the right provisions so that business can thrive.

In conclusion

Whatever your professional background I believe that there can be an opportunity for you to become a Portfolio Executive. The crucial thing is to pick the right sector, the right company scale, and the correct company lifecycle point to become engaged – and be clear about the value you bring. Otherwise the risk is that you are working for companies that are too small to really value you or too big for you to justify being there only part-time.

If you are considering becoming a Portfolio Executive and feel that the guidance of those who have already made a successful transition could be of help, why not access our webinar and find out how we can help you develop a strategy that will work for you.


Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.