Saturday, 10 January 2015

Chartered Director: Why every Company needs their Directors to be Professional

In the recent recession, when costs needed to be managed especially closely in order to survive, one of the first things that many businesses chopped from the budget as not mission critical was their training budget. The justification was that belts had to be tightened; training was a luxury that business could do without as the hatches were battened down. But was this thinking the right way to go? 

In tough economic times, where there is likely to be a freeze on new recruitment, then I would suggest that it is all the more imperative that employers are able to get the best out of the staff that they do have. And the only way to do this is by identifying skills gaps and then closing this gap via training. In the West Midlands we have a strong advocate for improving individual’s skill sets in Lord Digby Jones, who regularly makes speeches encouraging skills training at all levels across the region. And some of the statistics he quotes of skills failings are truly frightening. 

For most companies to stand a chance of survival, it is vital to have the best Board and Management Team possible. As Jim Collins said in his seminal work, “Good to Great”, employees aren’t your greatest assets, the “right” employees are. Get the right people on the bus, and in the right seats, before you start your journey (vision/strategy). This will make all the difference when the entire economy suffers a trauma such as the one we have experienced in recent years and the business relies on its top level team to navigate the Company around the rocks.  

The future direction and success of almost every businesses is dependent on the quality, experience and strategy of those executives at the top i.e. the Board of Directors. But the entry level to be a Director in its simplest form is that you just need to spend your £35 at Companies House on a new registration, or be at the right place at the right time (next in line?) within a Company who may be losing an existing Director to retirement, moving company or after a transaction has completed. This can’t be right - neither of these options are ideal for good and informed decision making and, in fact, can easily be detrimental, knee jerk and destabilising to a business (let alone ‘strategy-lite’). Would you want an inexperienced surgeon with no qualifications (and who hadn’t undertaken the procedure previously) operating on you? No, I thought not. So why is this tolerated within the business world? Lives may not be directly at risk, but jobs and livelihoods most definitely are! 

Thus, at the senior level, to support previous business experience (and preferably professional functional qualifications), there is one training route that stands out above all others – the Institute of Director’s programme in Company Direction leading to the Chartered Director qualification. Here, the new Board member undertakes courses on ‘The Role of the Director and the Board’, ‘Finance for Non-Finance Directors’, ‘The Director’s Role in Strategy & Marketing’, ‘The Director’s Role in Leading the Organisation’ and ‘Developing Board Performance’. Remarkably, this is still the only qualification route for training professional Directors, and the only designation in this field that can help investors gain confidence that the Chartered Directors running a particular Company have been suitably trained for the role that they are undertaking. 

Train as a Chartered Director to give you the tools to do the job at Board level and gain the credibility and marketability that this professional qualification will give you in your business career. 

Paul Hooper-Keeley (who qualified in 2000 as the IoD’s 25th Chartered Director and is now an Institute of Director’s West Midlands Ambassador)

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