Calum’s Corner – February 2020


What did you miss?

Our meeting on the 11th February was at the Lansdowne Club, where we had invited a panel of experienced Non-Exec Directors to talk about how to get onto a board and what the challenges were as a board member. After welcoming two guests and one new member, Thomas Saltiel introduced the panel.

Mark Cardale, Sue Delafons, Richard Owen and Terry Irwin are all active NEDs but have had different career paths to get there, enabling a variety of perspectives. Several aspects were in common though – they all emphasised the importance of understanding what a NED is responsible for, and of performing due diligence before accepting any roles. Understanding the nature and the requirements of the stakeholders and being clear on whose interests the NED was representing, was also seen as critical. Although as equally responsible legally as the executive directors, the NED’s role is as much about listening carefully as it is about giving advice and direction. It is also key to be able to challenge and provide a different perspective to that of the other board members.

There was a good discussion about whether being a trustee could be seen as a route to a NED role. The general consensus seemed to be that they required some different skills but although there was a common area in terms of governance, becoming a trustee was not a guarantee of success as a NED – and vice versa. The route to becoming a NED – everyone agreed – was networking, to ensure that you were aware of opportunities, and that the decision makers were aware of you. A small number of opportunities come through recruitment agencies, but all the panel agreed that the majority of their roles had come about through their connections with existing board members – and through having expertise and an interest in the activities of the organisation.

After some questions from the audience we continued to network over drinks and canapés, with the panel continuing to provide useful insights.

Our session next month is being held jointly with Scotland House. This is the Scottish government’s office in London, but also provides a base for Scottish businesses growing their activities in London and the South East. The topic is on Sustainability and we have two speakers: Robin Dickinson is an XTEND member who will talk about the business benefits of sustainability, and Scott Dickson is a Scottish entrepreneur who will talk about his sustainability start-up and the journey to get it to market.

I look forward to seeing many of you there on the 3rd of March from 6pm.

Calum Byers
Chair, XTEND