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There are quite well-established patterns of work for part-time Finance Directors and HR Directors and increasingly for people in Marketing and in Sales. I am also seeing more and more people being part-time CIOs and part-time CTOs. But what about some of those other professional roles that don’t feel quite so mainstream or that are not quite so well defined. Can you become a Portfolio Executive if your background is in Operations, Programme and Project Management, Diversity and Inclusion, as a Creative Director or in Logistics or Retail Merchandising?

There are a whole host of other professionals, some which are fairly sector specific and some which are much more general. Perhaps you have got 15-20 years’ experience in a particular field and you are wondering whether you can become a Portfolio Executive.

My encouragement to you is absolutely you can find Portfolio Executive roles. You can become a part-time Head of or Director of Programme and Project Management or Logistics. And as I talk to more and more professionals, I am seeing how this can play out.

So, let me give you a few examples.  Let’s talk through what this might look like for Diversity and Inclusion in this article.  We will explore Programme & Project Management and Operations in the next article.

But be aware, as you come with a more niche capability then the size of business you are likely to engage with is going to be bigger.

1 – Diversity and Inclusion

Increasingly, businesses are building their diversity and inclusion agenda, not just for compliance or CSR, but because of the relentless war for the best talent.

Diversity and Inclusion is a key strategy for them to access the very best people.

In the past, Head of Diversity and Inclusion roles most common in FTSE 100 companies or large international groups.  Now I am seeing business in technology, professional services and creative industries which are much smaller than large international groups or major national companies adopt a diversity and inclusion strategy.  It may be part of their talent strategy, brand building and to engage them to engage with the diversity of clients.

Added pressure is coming to those organisations that are contracting with Government funded organisations that are required to demonstrate effective Diversity and Inclusion policies and evidence of implementation.

It can now make sense for a law firm with perhaps 30 – 40 professional fee earning staff to have a part-time Head of Diversity and Inclusion, who can bring their specialists knowledge and skills to enable them to access the right talent and also to access clients who are increasingly represented across the wider diversity across ethnic, gender and sexual orientation groups.

An experienced Diversity and Inclusion individual can bring a huge value for a relatively small amount of effort every single month.  The business case for their engagement is more talent, better talent and more alignment to the expectation of their client base.  In fact, they may even enable them to access a client base they were struggling to access before.


Whatever your specialism if you have got 10-15 years of experience, if you have had Head of or Director of responsibilities in a large corporate setting, I believe that we can find a way of positioning you as a Portfolio Executive bringing that skills, knowledge and experience to smaller businesses. This is not a field reserved for HR Directors, Finance Directors, Marketing Directors and IT Directors. You too could become a Portfolio Executive.

For more examples see: “Can I really be a Portfolio Executive? Part 2”


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.