Oct 242014

Loughborough-born Ian Dormer,Chartered Director and IoD chairman, works to dispel fat cat image of big business

By I_Griffin  |  Leicester Mercury October 21, 2014

chartered directorIan Dormer, chairman of the Institute of Directors is a friendly man. When a colleague heard I was meeting him, he had nothing but praise. And when I sat down with him at an IoD meeting, Ian – a big smile on his face – had nothing but praise for the colleague.

Which is a tad surprising, when you consider this is the man elected for three years to represent – and excuse the cliché – the nation’s fat cat business bosses.

In fact, from the moment he joined the North East England branch back in the early 1990's, he set out to break that stereotype.

He said he wanted to bring a new lease of life to something that still had a bit of a dusty reputation.

He says: “When I first joined, it was basically an old gentleman’s lunch club in the North East.

“I started asking for breakfast meetings and evening meetings and wanted it to provide something useful, and they said ‘fine’ as long as I organised it.

“So I set a breakfast event up with a guest speaker from Air UK and, to cut a long story short, 50 people came along. All the old boys said maybe this little upstart is on to something, and asked me to join the committee.

“Before I knew it, I was branch chairman, then regional chairman and was invited on to the council and asked to join the main board.

“I became chairman two-and-a-half years ago. It’s not hard work. There are some challenges, but when you enjoy something, it’s not hard.

“Yes, there are times when you are tired, but I’ve met some fantastic people – I would never have had the opportunity to shake Specsavers founder Dame Mary Perkins’ hand and meet leading politicians.

“It’s a massive, massive privilege.

“I went to Kazakhstan with David Cameron, where we were signing a big director-level training deal. I don’t know how these politicians do it – I was knackered.”

Aged 50, Ian was born in Oaklands Avenue, Loughborough – “it’s a lovely market town, a lovely place to grow up and I have extremely happy memories”.

He later lived in Valley Road and attended Mountfields Lodge School, before going on to read government at Essex and Georgetown universities.

His dad had been chief test engineer for Brush Transformers but the family moved north to Gateshead when Ian was 11.

There, his father went on to launch Rosh Engineering in County Durham, a small operation which installs, repairs and refurbishes power transformer equipment.

Ian – having already been a journalist on Flight International magazine in London – went on to take it over.

“It was tough living in London on the wage I had in the late 80's and my dad said either take the business over or I sell it. So I gave it a go,” he says.

“When I took it on I wanted to grow it, and that’s part of the reason I joined the IoD.

“It had three temporary staff and operated out of a front bedroom and today we’re in our fourth factory, with big customers like Western Power Distribution.

“It’s been great. There have been ups and downs and challenges and tough times, but today there are 34 staff and we have a £4 million turnover.”

Rosh Engineering now trades throughout the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and further afield.

On that journey, Ian has been a board member of the North East Regional Development Agency and Business Link Tyne and Wear, sharing his knowledge and expertise whenever he can.

He visited Leicestershire to address the second East Midlands Young Directors’ Forum annual convention at the Radisson Blue Hotel, at East Midlands Airport.

The event brought together about 80 young entrepreneurs and directors to gain insights into significant business issues.

A big part of the organisation is the education of its members – through events like this and particularly through its professional qualification of chartered director.

“Becoming a chartered director is a fantastic scheme and quite nerve-wracking to undertake.

“I learned a hell of a lot from it and now know I’m better at my job because of it – partly because of what I learned taking it, but partly from the interaction with other directors.

“Because it has a Royal Charter, you have to offer additional education and training and that means we are always trying to make it better.

“It’s important because when you run a business you put in training for staff because you really want them to exceed, but you end up ignoring yourself.

“Now, I’m much better at governance, which means putting systems in place so everybody in your company knows their responsibilities and you know their responsibilities.

“I had a month off in Australia not long ago and during that time didn’t get a text or e-mail and, when I came back, business was booming – the team had managed it beautifully.

“You have to empower your staff.”

At its raw heart, he said the IoD was about making directors better – something that is all the more important considering the condemnation some high-profile business leaders have attracted in recent months for inappropriate and arrogant behaviour in the boardroom.

“Excellence is what we stand for,” he said.

“We all make mistakes, but if you pay yourself too much or treat your staff poorly, then that’s simply wrong.”

Later in the conversation the topic of Scottish independence pops up, and the advantages and disadvantages to business a yes vote might have brought.

It now seems an age since the referendum, but – regardless of the democratic pros an cons of self rule – there were always questions about the impacts on industry, trade, employment and economics.

Ian headed up a business group a decade ago which was put together to see off plans by John Prescott for a regional assembly in the North East.

He said: “The Government wanted to put another tier of bureaucracy in place, so myself and a couple of other business guys founded a campaign group called North East Says No.

“The was no point in having a no campaign supported by the Conservative party because they would have lost that in the North East.

“So we said it wasn’t party political, simply the fact that people didn’t want more bureaucracy at more cost, offering no help to the economy. It was not going to solve anything.

“The campaign was great fun – simple and clear and passionate.

“We argued plans for the assembly were more concerned about members’ expenses than transport.

“The question we asked was ‘is it better’?

“We were saying ‘don’t just do it because you think it looks good’. In the end, we had half the money of the yes campaign, but got 75 per cent of the vote.

“After all that, I found the Scottish referendum fascinating. I do a lot of business in Scotland so I was delighted by the no vote because it will make my business easier.

“Having any uncertainty with currency would have been tough and would have increased risk.

“You might call it selfish that it’s easier to trade in a domestic market, but business people like to minimise risk.

“The IoD stayed out of the referendum and said it was a decision for our members, which was something our members in Scotland asked us to do.

“We asked them a year ago and they felt that if the IoD were to put out an opinion it could have damaged the institution’s name.

“What we did do was have lots of open forums and debates on it and opportunities for the yes and no campaigns to discuss with business leaders what the advantages were going to be.”

Next on the agenda will be the 2015 General Election and its impact on the business landscape.

He said: “The next 12 months are key.

“We talk to all political parties and want an environment that encourages business to grow which, of course, means that employment will grow.

“Employment legislation is something we are all worried about and our role is to make sure the people in power understand what that means to us.

“We are all after the same thing – economic growth.

“We are in a good, steady, solid recovery. Now we have to ensure we have the checks and balances in place top ensure that continues.

“There are challenges and coming out of a recession is never going to be easy, but it’s a step change to what it was three or four years ago.”

Oct 092014

The New Zealand Institute of Directors’ new Chartered Directors programme demonstrates a commitment to continuous professional development for all those engaged in the governance environment.

Waikato Institute of Directors chair Margaret Devlin said the Chartered Director programme will transition the Institute from simply being a membership-based organisation to one which is focused on continuous professional development.

“Shareholders, investors and communities expect Directors to meet certain standards and have the right leadership skills and knowledge to effectively fulfil their governance duties,” said Devlin.

“The programme provides a benchmark against which directors’ experience is recognised.  It also allows our members to demonstrate they are committed to effective governance and continuing their professional development,” she said.

The programme ensures directors complete a set criteria for professional development through training and learning opportunities.

“Members gain points for the programme through formal Director training, and through informal learning, which may include readings, attending events and presentations, or through mentoring,” said Devlin.

Accredited Fellow of the Institute of Directors Ken Williamson is currently chair and director of several key boards, trusts and committees in the Waikato, and his governance career spans more than 30 years.

Mr Williamson said the benefits of the Chartered Directors programme are numerous.

“The IOD’s Chartered Directors programme will greatly help to professionalise governance within New Zealand and will allow boards to better identify ‘qualified’ governors".

Each director must embrace life-long’ education, and this programme allows good governors to maintain and enhance their skills and become even better directors,” he said.

Devlin said the programme additionally provides greater credibility and integrity for the Institute of Directors membership.

“People will be more confident that any members of the Institute are committed and dedicated to continuous improvement and maintaining their currency as a director,” she said.

“Many members already have experience at particular levels within the new Chartered Directors Programme and over the past few months have been transitioned into particular tiers of membership depending on their experience and continuing professional development completed to date.”

More information about the programme:

Key features include

  • Directors are required to undertake continuing professional development
  • Ongoing disclosure and commitment to ethical standards under a Charter
  • A new membership structure
  • Becomes operational from 1 October 2014
  • Current members will be transitioned into their new membership category through a one-off process that recognises the different levels of experience of members
  • Continuing Professional Development is a requirement to undertake education, maintain a current knowledge base or to improve skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis. Remaining a member of the IoD requires you to do this.
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) covers the activities, both formal and informal, which a director undertakes to improve their skills and competence within the IoD’s New Zealand Director Competency Framework. All Members, Chartered Members and Chartered Fellows will be required to undertake CPD.

Originally published in New Zealand Management 

Friday, 3 October, 2014
Oct 072014

Five members of the Institute of Directors Bermuda take the first step towards becoming Chartered Directors

Chartered DirectorBreaking the stereotype that members of company boards are ‘stale, pale and male’, the Institute of Directors’ first five holders of the Certificate in Company Direction programme have been announced.

Earning this recognition is the first step towards becoming a chartered director.

Rochelle Simons, who is the chairman of the education committee of the Institute of Directors Bermuda, said that Roger Gillett, who is an insurance and reinsurance company director, received a distinction in the CICD examination.

Other successful candidates were Collin Anderson, the assistant director of insurance supervision at Bermuda Monetary Authority; Craig Davis, general manager at LinkBermuda; Adam Hopkin, managing director at Arthur Morris & Company Ltd; and Sara Schroter Ross, general counsel at Bermuda Commercial Bank Ltd.

These delegates sat the examination in June 2014 following completion of the four courses in the Certificate in Company Direction programme. They were: ‘The Role of the Director and the Board’, which took place over two days, ‘The Directors Role in Strategy & Marketing, and Finance for Non-Financial Directors’, both over three days, and a final two-day course on ‘The Directors Role in Leading the Organisation’.

Course leaders from the IoD in London led all the sessions in Bermuda.

“These courses are absolutely invaluable for anyone who is a director of a company, or thinking of becoming one,” Mr Hopkin said. “The scope of what is expected of a modern day board is mind boggling, and the IoD is simply the best organisation to learn it from.

“Huge credit should be given to the executive of the Bermuda branch for arranging these courses and promoting the education of Bermuda’s directors,”

Ms Schroter Ross added: “With governance and the role of the director continuing to play an increasing part in the way we do business, the IOD’s Certificate in Company Direction is perfectly structured so as to hone the skills which I believe are important to develop, in order to be a successful director today.

“I therefore believe that it is important that businesses in Bermuda continue to support the local IOD branch so that it may in turn continue to support, represent and set standards for the leadership skills of directors in Bermuda and across the globe.”

“Ensuring a high standard of corporate governance in Bermuda as an international financial centre is important,” said Mr Anderson, who recently left a role in the Ministry of Health to join the BMA. “My recent experience in the public sector showed me the significant need for competent leadership at the board level. Within the current climate, there is a great need for governmental and quasi-non-governmental bodies to have strong governance characterised by the adoption of internationally recognised standards, with appointed directors who are fully aware of these standards and their wider role.

“The CICD, through the IOD, provides directors with a solid foundation in the principles of governance. It provides directors with access to practical tools they can use in their roles and responsibilities for finance, strategy and the overall leadership of the enterprise.

“It was a rewarding experience, and I look forward to applying the knowledge gained.”

Ms Simons explained: “This professional development programme was launched in July last year. So far, we have taken more than 60 people through various courses in the programme. There is another group of candidates who are ready to sit the examination in November, and further four or five have completed the four courses and will be ready in March.

“And some people elected to just do the courses that interested them.”

Going forward, the programme will be offered during the academic year, she said.

Mr Davis added: “We’re also thrilled that companies have engaged with us to offer courses for their board. Most companies do in-house training for prospective directors — but this provides a more standardised approach.” He pointed to evolving legal requirements and responsibilities for boards that have developed in recent years.

Mr Hopkin said: “There really is no other formal training in the world.”

“People have said, ‘I should have done this five years ago!’ People are recognising the value of it,” said Ms Simons

Reprinted from The Royal Gazette 01/10/2014

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