How to become an IoD Chartered Director

'The Chartered Director qualification from the Institute of Directors provides strategic insight and governance expertise that enhances your skills as a director.' Hear from Sarah Waddington CBE CDir about her journey through the IoD Chartered Director qualification.

In 2019 I publicly set out my ambition of achieving Chartered Director status with the Institute of Directors.

To that aim, I booked onto a five-day residential course in Surrey, shortly after cancelled due to the impending Coronavirus crisis. My plans were firmly on hold as the focus switched to business continuity and keeping my family safe.

Fast forward to May 2022, when I instead found myself in Belfast, again signed up for the Accelerated Certificate in Company Direction.

Looking around the room, I knew I’d landed on my feet with my fellow students, each with different leadership and sector experience. Critically, considering the amount of time we were to spend together, they all had a great sense of humour and were there to make the most of the experience.

Certification: Building governance knowledge and skills

Throughout the week, we were hot-housed by experts in four key areas: The Role of the Director and the Board; Leadership; Strategy; and Finance for Non-Finance Directors. Each day required a 12-hour shift of practical work and preparation for the day ahead.

Exhausting – yes. Effective? Also, yes.

I left Belfast with a fantastic new network of fellow directors, ready to do the additional leg work to sit the four exams required, receiving my final pass results in October 2022.

Onto the Diploma: Consolidating your knowledge as a director

I knew if I was to stay focused, I’d need to book onto the Diploma swiftly and registered to complete the three-day training course for this Masters’ level qualification in March 2023.

Instead of face-to-face, this was an online experience focused on developing board performance, led by two energetic and engaging IoD instructors.

Fellow delegates were again focused on the job at hand and came from various backgrounds, making for a useful peer group contribution.

I sat the three-and-a-quarter-hour exam the day after returning from Glastonbury. Finding out that I’d passed made the last-minute reading in the campervan on the way home worth it.

Finally, Chartered status: Accreditation of your knowledge and experience

The final Chartered Director qualification was finally in reach, and I booked my Professional Review in August 2023, ready for the interview the following month.

The review comprises a 90-minute interview with two qualified Chartered directors and is based on the candidate’s personal director experience in terms of:

  • Vision, purpose, values, and ethics
  • Strategic thinking and stakeholder management
  • Delegation to management
  • Discharging director duties
  • Exercising effective and accountable leadership.

It’s gruelling but needs to be if, as the IoD says, it serves as an:

“endorsement of your skills, professionalism and knowledge of corporate governance best-practice.”

Despite being told it would potentially be a three-week wait until I received the results, I heard the same afternoon that I’d met the requirements for the award and would be admitted as a Chartered Director. I didn’t expect it and punched the air.

Things to know

The Certificate in Company Direction is the first part of the IoD’s three-stage programme designed to equip delegates with the skills and knowledge needed for success in the boardroom.

You can study the four modules separately or fast-track over the course of a week. I chose the Accelerated Certificate, but doing each module separately would have admittedly provided more time for reflection and been less exhausting.

You can only sit the Diploma once you’ve completed the Certificate, and similarly, you must have completed the Diploma before moving on to the third and final stage.

The final interview requires substantial experience in one or more director roles for a period of three full years over the course of the previous decade. The criteria are strict and I’d advise reviewing the details in advance.

The exams for the Certificate are based on multiple-choice questions, which I didn’t enjoy. The Diploma exam requires scrutinising a fictional company and preparing a set of Board notes covering performance, risks and opportunities, strategic options and more, which I enjoyed in comparison.

The final interview was more daunting than I expected, despite having done the preparation work, but it is just a conversation between you and two others and it’s made clear they’re keen to see you succeed and not there to trip you up.

Is Chartered Director for me?

Chartered Director is not for the faint hearted or anyone looking for a quick training fix. You do need to be in a privileged position to undertake the professional development both in terms of time and investment.

Studying for the Certificate costs £9,995 (£12,995 for non IoD members). The Diploma has a price tag of £3,995 (non-members £4,745). The Chartered Director assessment costs £720.

Is it worth it?


This has by far been one of the most challenging programmes of professional development I have ever done but one of the most rewarding.

It has consolidated and extended my knowledge, plugged skills gaps, widened my network and boosted my confidence. Seeing the difference between my performance and that of peers has reinforced that this specific qualification has given me a real competitive edge as a director and professional advisor.

If you’d like to know more, you can find out more here and I’m always happy to chat. I’ve written this in my capacity as a non-executive director but I am also a regional chair and ambassador for the IoD.

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