Annual North West Board Dinner

Published: 29 April 2016

Annual North West Board Dinner
Earlier this week the Odgers Berndtson Group and PwC hosted the fourth of our joint North West Board Dinners. In what has become a landmark event in the northern business calendar, guests were treated to a delightful dinner at the heart of ‘new Manchester’ enjoying views from the top of the Lowry Theatre. 

While a dramatic sunset, beset by snow flurries set the scene, the main event was unquestionably the address from Paul Drechsler CBE; Chairman of Bibby Line, Chair of TeachFirst and President of the CBI.  A visible and well-known figure in the region Paul gave a typically honest and articulate appraisal of a host of challenging topics. His business involvements very much reflect his passions; improving education at every level, and helping UK businesses grow in stature and be ever more challenging on the global stage. 

Take these passions in turn, and a clear and virtuous value chain becomes apparent. The UK is a world leader in education inequality. As business leaders we need to worry about postcode lottery of academic attainment. In not addressing it we are wilfully stepping upon our own airline. We have no right to complain about UK talent shortages, when we have the power to level out the postcode led education inequality. We must invest, its foolhardy not to!

Engage people. Good leadership and good leaders care about the issues of the day, and how they might impact their people. Talk to your people about the issues of the moment. Political, economic, business – good leaders share their perspectives and close the gaps between ‘ranks’ and ‘titles’. As a business leader you often embody the business itself. An engaged and informed workforce makes for a positive future.

In this light, consider Brexit. A third of people innately want to stay put, a third want to move, and a third don’t know and won’t vote because they’re fearful of making a poor choice. With no engagement, they are at risk of media hyperbole shaping their view. That’s a heck of a business risk that can be better managed. Engage your people in the debate.  And the business economics according to Dreschler are clear; ‘In’.  

So, where did this address take us? We received a clear call for business to support investment in education to fuel the engine of UK plc. Through apprenticeships and sponsorship bring people into an engaged workplace. Take leadership seriously, and develop leaders around you. 

After an evening of good company and good food, the crème of the North West business community were issued a final challenge. Whether you are driving major infrastructure investment, or scaling an innovative tech start-up, proudly embrace British traits of influence and challenge! And to quote him directly; “Lead or face doom. Get on with it!” 

Matt Cockbill is a Partner at Berwick Partners supporting regional, and national, businesses with the recruitment of critical functional leadership at the heart of their business. 

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