Insights & Research

Insights & Research

Exclusive Insights

Original research and insightful articles on leadership, people and culture, change management and career advancement for busy senior executives.

A Chair’s Multi-Lens View on Succession

The chair is in a unique position when it comes to a subject that is vital to the success of every business: succession. On the one hand, chairs play a crucial role in ensuring there is a sensible and appropriate succession plan in place for the two most important executive positions: CEO and CFO. Meanwhile, as is discussed throughout this report, they are also tasked with ensuring a diverse composition of non- exec board members around them. And all the while considering whether they are meeting the evolving needs to best serve as chair themselves.

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Board DNA: 5 Core Attributes of Future Chairs

Respondents of a 2021 board study by Savannah reveal how a business landscape where volatility is the norm impacts the attributes of successful chairs and boards of the future.

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Charting the Evolution of Board Priorities

Purpose, innovation and diversity are driving a realigned set of priorities for board directors. When the chairs and other executive and non-executive directors were asked by Savannah Group in mid-2021 to rank the top issues of importance to the board today, the results revealed a stark realignment of priorities from what was traditionally associated with boardroom decisions.

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The Changing Roles of the Chair and Board

In a dramatically shifting business environment, the traditional roles of the chair and board are having to evolve. Non-financial issues, and non-traditional board measures such as sustainability, D&I, digital transformation and social purpose, are adding new dimensions to board leadership and governance, causing the role of the board to evolve. The pressure is on all board directors, but most of all the chair, to not only take on a more active role but also to reflect on what they personally need to bring to the table as companies look to reinvent themselves for a post- Covid, post-Brexit age.

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Infrastructure Talent Themes and Challenges for 2022

What are the key themes and challenges facing infrastructure talent acquisition in 2022? This is the exact question Tim Shaw, Partner in Savannah’s Industrial Practice, addressed in his recent keynote presentation at FIDICs Global Infrastructure Conference. As we look ahead into 2022, there will be four major areas that need to be focused on to attract and retain the best talent: • Diversity • Hybrid Culture • Digital • Purpose

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Talent Trends Treasury

In any time of economic turbulence, we always see an increase in activity and demand for roles within the treasury functions of our clients of businesses. We saw this after the Global Financial Crash of 2008 and we have been witnessing this again throughout the pandemic as large organisations had to react with urgency to their changing financial circumstances. In this article we look at treasury market insights and the talent implications for listed companies and PE/VC backed businesses.

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Building Digital Boards

Report: Building Digital Boards

2020 will be remembered as the year the world was forced to make a radical and life-altering pivot. Change has been forced upon organisations and they’ve had to be quick to adapt. One of the major themes that has been accelerated is the adoption and use of digital technology. Whether it’s how we work, where we work, how we shop or how we spend our leisure time, digital technology is embedded in every area of our lives. The barriers to change have been taken down and acceptance of change has never been greater.

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Sequencing the DNA of the Future Chair & Board

Non-financial issues, and non-traditional board measures such as sustainability, D&I, digital transformation and social purpose, are adding new dimensions to board leadership and governance, causing the role of the board to evolve. The pressure is on all board directors, but most of all the chair, to not only take on a more active role but also to reflect on what they personally need to bring to the table as companies look to reinvent themselves for a post-Covid, post-Brexit age.

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The Future of Data

Data is not just an asset. It is the strongest voice that will help businesses to stay competitive. We know that this resource holds the answer to many of our business challenges but mastering the art of extracting insights that are credible and powerful enough to drive strategic business decisions is no easy feat. To learn from experts in this field we were delighted to co-host an event on the future of data in partnership with Google Cloud.

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How to get C-Suite Alignment on the Mental Health Agenda

In a business that’s all about people, we know first-hand how leaders influence happiness, healthiness and high-performing work environments. Investing holistically in health and wellbeing is high on the agenda of both clients and candidates. At our recent Health Matters for the Workplace event in partnership with Aetna and the InsideOut LeaderBoard, Savannah Group’s Mary Driscoll explored the topic of getting c-suite support on health and wellbeing in the workplace. Pushing mental health up the board agenda brings with it a broad range of benefits related to recruitment, retention, productivity and most importantly, overall workforce health.

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Sense and Respond: How to Deliver Outcomes not Outputs

If the past year has demonstrated anything, it’s that we live in an unpredictable world supported by technology. To thrive within these conditions of uncertainty and to future-proof our businesses, we must strive to become ‘sensing organisations,’ that can sense and respond, continuously, in real time. In the latest of Savannah Group’s series of exclusive Harvard Business Review Press events, we welcomed Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden. Authors of the bestselling book Sense and Respond, Jeff and Josh discussed how organisations need to rethink the way we organise work in order to sense and respond quickly.

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Deal-making in a Pandemic: Valuations

Over a year on from the first lockdown, Savannah Group has reflected on what has been an extraordinary year in the Private Equity sector with the volume of requests for pre and post-acquisition support mirroring the ebb and flow of deal-making and all the challenges that has brought with it.

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The Unfinished Business of Boardroom Gender Diversity

The Government backed Davies Review in 2011 followed by the Hampton-Alexander Review in 2016, successfully encouraged a voluntary effort to substantially increase the number of women on the boards of the FTSE 350 listed companies and this effort has cascaded down through AIM listed and the largest privately held companies. In 2012, only 12% of the FTSE 350 non-executive directors were women.  Today, it is close to 40% and still increasing. While this success needs to recognised, it also masks a deeper problem. If companies can’t get on top of gender diversity, will they be able to succeed with other forms of diversity?

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Leading through lockdown: The Power of Informality

An assumption that was made by a raft of executives in the wake of lockdown was that interims couldn’t be effective away from the office, leading to a significant number of assignments ending prematurely or never getting off the blocks. Eight months on, as we contend with local and national lockdowns, businesses are grappling with the reality that a number of staff will be operating remotely for some time and companies cannot afford to tread water forever. With the relaxing of the restrictions looking unlikely until 2021, we must all learn to deliver our objectives under the current conditions.

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Mastering Leadership Transitions – Both Internally & Externally

A combination of remote working and an accelerated pace of change have made transitions more challenging than ever. Whether moving internally or externally, leaders are faced with building trust, credibility, and their networks, without being able to spend time with their colleagues face to face. To discuss how to set leaders up for success in this environment, Savannah Group was joined by Michael Watkins, bestselling author of The First 90 Days, Master your Next Move, Professor at IMD Business School and co-founder of Genesis, and Danielle Harmer, Chief People Officer at Aviva.

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The DNA of the Future Organisation

How has the DNA of our organisations been altered in recent months? And how will it evolve to support a super-resilient business model that can thrive in times of uncertainty? During our virtual event our panel members discussed practical actions that organisations can take now.

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Savannah Market Insights: Leadership for the ‘Next Normal’. Issue 2: August

Following on from our First Market Insights report released in May, we’ve continued our conversations with board members and senior executives across a range of sectors and industries to gather insights and opinion in the current yet ever changing business landscape. This document summarises key themes, concerns and forward plans from those conversations.

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Cybersecurity: Three Questions All Executives Should Now Be Asking Their CISOs

As we speak to executives in businesses that are now restarting, an area of concern that comes up frequently is information security as a result of remote working. With the majority of workers continuing to work from home on laptops and computers there are worries over increased vulnerability to cybersecurity attacks or a significant data breach. So what three questions should you be asking your CISO that you probably aren’t? And what answers should you be expecting to hear back?

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The Elephant in the Boardroom

I have been in the privileged position to discuss race and diversity in all its forms with many leading Chief Executives and Chairs. One thing that always struck me was their need for a safe environment. An environment where they could not only challenge me but also their own concepts of race and get a better understanding of privilege in order to make their companies more attractive, better and ultimately more profitable places to work.

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Savannah Market Insights: Leadership for the ‘Next Normal’. Issue 1: May

Over the past six weeks we’ve held hundreds of conversations with board members and senior executives across a range of sectors and industries during phase one and the early part of phase two of the coronavirus crisis. This document summarises key themes, concerns and forward plans from those conversations.

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Corporate Innovation Isn’t Working with Mark Zawacki

Mark Zawacki (Business Strategist and Founder of Silicon Valley based 650 Labs) unpacks the issue by taking us through a variety of reasons as to why innovation and digital transformation isn’t working, why innovation theatre is rampant, and what organisations need to do in order to remain relevant in the decade ahead and to ignite new double-digit growth, particularly in light of the challenges we’re currently experiencing and the impact on the economy globally.

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Four Paths to Becoming a Platform Business

New ecosystems are superseding conventional business models in many industries. The recent global pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in sectors that we couldn’t have foreseen even a few months ago. As this evolution takes shape, the roles of CIO and CDO are at the forefront of digital transformation. But this isn’t digital transformation as we know it. Moving from paths to platforms requires technology to fundamentally reinvent the business as digital-first.  The role of the CIO and CDO is to bring the right tech to the table.

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No Business Shrinks to Greatness – What CEOs in Industrial are Focusing on in 2020.

The differing pressures of ESG agendas, political emission, stakeholder activism, digital take up, decarbonisation and inclusion means that CEO’s of today must tread carefully. With corporate reputation now accounting for at least 25% of a company’s market value, 2020 will be a pivotal year driven by geopolitical agendas which are shaking up markets across the world. So what are CEOs within the industrial sector looking to focus on in 2020?

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Savannah Group Commercial Practice H1 Update

Each half-year our Commercial Practice puts together a 5-minute update which briefly covers some of the activity we have been seeing in the market relating to the commercial function, the trends we have spotted and some of the work we have been asked to undertake from a sales, marketing and customer acquisition perspective.

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From The Podium To The Boardroom

Sport and business are often compared to one another, with good reason. In both environments, leaders seek to be top of their game. To gain a unique perspective on the experienced similarities between sport and business, and what business can learn from athletes, we recently hosted a breakfast briefing ‘From the Podium to the Boardroom’ with guest speakers Jason Gardener, Olympic Gold medallist, and Joanna Adams CEO of England Netball.

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Hiring For A Diversity & Inclusion Agenda

What we all suspected is now fully backed by all the stats – having diverse teams not only makes the workplace happier, but more productive and successful; your customers will feel a positive difference and ultimately, so will your P&L. What is equally true is that, whether our clients fully embrace the overwhelming evidence or whether they are simply following instructions from somewhere on high, gender balance is hugely important to them.

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Digital Transformation Is Not About the Technology

We’re all increasingly told that the new digital world turns everything on its head. That the new digital strategy says that we should look at the latest buzzwords and build business cases around why they are appropriate for deployment. History however is littered with cautionary tales of businesses that ‘bet the business’ on a certain strategy or approach, so how do you get digital transformation right?

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To Be Successful In Difficult Emerging Markets, Don’t Rely On The Expat

Competition for talent continues to be a very hot topic in business today on both local and global level. And not least because of the extraordinary competitive edge afforded to those organisations – across the world – who invest in spotting and retaining talent. At Savannah Group, every day we see the rewards that high-growth organisations reap from positioning themselves to attract and retain highly-talented and agile workforces.

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Established Energy Players Aren’t Interested In Consumers

It seems that the rate of change in the energy sector is taking people by surprise. Given the falling costs of technology and availability of new renewable technologies, so much is being achieved in pushing the boundaries of this industry. We discuss what the organisational implications for business leaders and investors are.

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Green Is The New Black

It seems that the rate of change in the energy sector is taking people by surprise. Given the falling costs of technology and availability of new renewable technologies, so much is being achieved in pushing the boundaries of this industry. We discuss what are the organisational implications for business leaders and investors are.

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Why Technology Leader Briefings Are Like A Box Of Chocolates 

Taking a brief from a board on a CIO/CTO/CDO role is rather like picking from a box of chocolates where you’ve lost the little card which tells you what the flavours are; you never know what you’ll get until you taste it. There are certainly some specific flavours which come through depending on the sector and size of the organisation, but as a head hunter, I can tell you that boards are full of surprises.

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The Content Arms Race – The Battle For Our Attention

The role of social media in today’s society combined with significant increases in the quantity, quality and the availability of content is having a marked effect on the dynamic between parent brands and the personal brands of the stars they employ. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the sports and media industry, and to discuss this topic, Savannah Group recently hosted a private dinner for senior executives in the sector.The topics of discussion focused on the role of content for these organisations; how they are looking to monetise their content and the carefully balanced dynamic between the commercial arm of the business and the talent they have within them.

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Key Takeaways From Dave Milner’s Breakfast Briefing Around Architecting The Future Digital Workplace

While digital is having a profound impact on how businesses interact with their customers, it is also having an impact on how businesses think about their internal customers: how to best engage their employees, what the workplace will look like in the future and what the employee experience will be.

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Blurred Lines – How Broadcasters are ‘Cohabiting’ With Digital Businesses

On the eve of Euro 2016, I asked the question in an article, as to whether broadcasters viewed social media as a ‘friend’ or ‘foe’. Two years on and the debate still rages. Although I would argue that the terminology needs updating and simplifying, replacing ‘social media businesses’ for ‘digital businesses’. What hasn’t become simpler is the somewhat awkward or evolving co-existence broadcasters and digital businesses share. On the one hand they are in open competition bidding against each other for sports rights, which in some cases has resulted in rights holders opting to move away from traditional linear deals and create partnerships with digital businesses.

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The Upside To The GDPR

With all the new policies, training and compliance that goes along with the GDPR, trying to change people’s working habits alongside their existing responsibilities can become a bit of an unwanted headache. While it might be tempting to moan and complain about all the work that needs to be undertaken, viewed in a positive light, GDPR offers the opportunity for some much needed organisational spring cleaning, and as a company, there are many positives we are experiencing.

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Have We Finally Moved Past The Obsession With Sector Experience?

Business leaders are under the spotlight from customers and boards to innovate, to adapt to the new norm and equip their organisation with the tools, skills, capabilities and products to survive in a world where competitors can emerge from unlikely places. One of the more significant shifts that we have seen is organisations becoming more open-minded about where their next leader is coming from, no doubt in an effort to remain relevant and ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving business world.

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It’s Your Employees’ Mindsets That Are Hampering Your Productivity – Not Your Technology

We recently welcomed a number of CIOs, CTOs and CDOs for a breakfast discussion about the latest technology devices and their current and future business applications. Lewis Richards from the Leading Edge Forum led the discussion and brought with him a number of these devices, giving the senior leaders in attendance the chance to have a hands-on experience.

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How Is Digital Impacting The Media, Sport & Entertainment Industry?

Savannah Group recently hosted its inaugural Media, Sports and Entertainment dinner for a selection of prominent senior executives, hosted by Tony Simpson. The focus of the dinner was a discussion around how an ever more digital future will impact businesses of all shapes and sizes within the Media, Sport and Entertainment industry.

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Aren’t All Businesses Now Customer-Centric?

The impact of digital on organisations has been well documented over the years. Some would argue that the answer to the question “What is digital?” is customer-centricity, and that everything that an organisation does is about serving the customer. How then can some organisations still be getting it so wrong?

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Key Takeaways From Prof. Venkatraman’s Breakfast Briefing On Digital Disruption & Strategy

Savannah Group, in partnership with PA Consulting Group, recently hosted a breakfast briefing on digital disruption and strategy, welcoming CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, HRDs and their senior colleagues to our venue in London, overlooking the Thames. The highlight of the event was a presentation given by Professor Venkat Venkatraman of Boston University Questrom School of Business, one of the world’s leading researchers and commentators on digital transformation.

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Five things you need to know about the GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is coming into force in the EU from May 2018. GDPR is about protecting the privacy of an individual’s personal data. It’s been introduced to bring different rules across EU countries into a single set and to make sure companies respect and take care of the personal data that they hold on their customers and prospects. Andy Warren, CISO at Invenias, explains the five key things that senior leaders need to be aware of.

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The Key Competencies of an outstanding CIO/CDO- Managing Complex stakeholders

Over the years I have been asked many times what makes a great technology leader, however, since the roles themselves have changed so dramatically over the past decade, the landscape is constantly shifting. Whatever list of criteria I put forward, there are always other competencies people want to add, usually drawn from their own personal experience, and the list could potentially be endless.

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The transformational CIO

When meeting boards to discuss their need to hire a CIO/CTO, the first question my colleagues and I always ask is on the need for evolution versus revolution in the technology function and what it delivers. Clients are often reluctant to admit that they are seeking a slower tempo of change since they fear seeming complacent or lacking ambition, but no organisation thrives in constant chaos so the desire for gradual change should not be dismissed as untenable.

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Achieving Sustainable Growth Within A Private Equity Backed Business

The requirements, objectives and dynamic, can vary significantly when working as a CFO in a PE environment versus a corporate environment. Michael Williamson, an experienced CFO, has worked for a number of blue chip businesses like Oaktree Capital, GSK and Sanofi, and recently led a finance transformation project within the asset services division.

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Savannah Group Launches!

We are delighted to launch Savannah Group, a new Executive Search and Interim Management brand offering a fresh approach to executive recruitment. Our core team has been together for 10+ years, and until now we were the UK operation for another global search business. We recognise that our market is changing rapidly and our rebranding offers us the opportunity to adapt our business to support our clients and candidates better in this continually evolving landscape.

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Savannah LEJOG Charity Ride 2017

Cancer and Cystic Fibrosis have either directly or indirectly affected a number of our employees. We wanted to do something to raise money as a thank you for the support and treatment that was received, so employees from Savannah Group are completing a cycle ride from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money and awareness for Macmillan, Breast Cancer Now and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

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Creating disruptive teams; the critical leadership competency for technology and digital leaders.

In this new world where Youtube went from startup to sale to Google for $1.4b in 18 months; Instagram went from start up to sale to facebook for $1bn in three years and Uber multiplied its value a tenfold to $17b in two years, the ability to deliver change and disruption to a sector, an industry and to one’s own organisation is arguably the most critical competency a business leader needs to possess.

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SMCR Makes You Personally Accountable – Are You Ready?

The aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008 revealed systemic weaknesses and ineffective ongoing supervision, leaving regulators largely unable to hold individuals accountable for the failure of the institutions they were responsible for managing. The Approved Persons Regime has been replaced by the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR), which is designed to address this lack of accountability.

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Are The Days Of The Generalist HR Interim Manager Numbered?

One of the questions I am most frequently asked by Interim Managers is “How are you finding the market?” to which there is not a straightforward answer. Much has changed in the Interim HR space over the past five to ten years that has shaped how it operates today.

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Have You Adapted To The Changing HR Interim Model?

Historically, the interim market has moved at a much faster pace than the executive search market. Over the past five to ten years, the client-side interviewing and overall assessment process in the HR interim market has been changing, so that the difference between the executive search process is not as apparent as it once was.

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Source, Attract, Retain: Building a Data & Analytics Talent Strategy

Research from SINTEF, the largest independent research company in Scandinavia, suggests that more data has been collected over the past two years than in the entire history of the human race. The convergence of several technology trends is accelerating this process, resulting in greater access to data, enhanced data storage, faster data mining and innovative utilisation of data in technologies such as AI. So how are businesses taking advantage of this exponential growth in data, and who do they need to hire to create a successful data and analytics function?

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CFO Succession: Could The Convergence Of Responsibilities Hold The Key?

We are often asked to find candidates to assume responsibility for multiple functions, none more so than in the CFO role. It is curious however to see where convergence starts to occur further down the organisational structure and how the trends change from year to year and sector to sector.

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Why Cybersecurity Is Where Talented Individuals Are Building Their Careers

Cybersecurity continues to make headlines, with a recent breach at Tesco Bank and the Chancellor unveiling a £2bn plan to “strike back” against cyber hackers. It is clear that public institutions, businesses, and our national infrastructure are being attacked on a daily basis by a mix of nation states, cyber spies, criminal gangs, hacktivists and “kids in bedrooms”, using in many cases, easily available and affordable tools.

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Leisure, Hospitality & Travel Boardroom Insight Q4, 2016

We recently hosted our latest boardroom lunch at our London Office for Chairmen, NEDs, CEOs and Investors from the Leisure, Hospitality & Travel sector. Guests included board members from Casual Dining Group, Priceline Group, Greggs, British Hospitality Association, SSP Group Plc, Vital Ingredient, The Restaurant Group, TUI, Disneyland Resort Paris and Barburrito.

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Insight from Leisure, Hospitality & Travel Boardroom Lunch – June/July 2016

On the day of the recent referendum, a selection of Chairmen, CEO and investors from across the Leisure, Hospitality & Travel sectors discussed their thoughts on the outcome and the implications of a Remain or Leave. Harold Wilson’s famous “a week is a long time in politics” quote certainly seems even more relevant now than it was back in 1977.

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Insight from our Leisure & Travel Boardroom Lunch- April 2016

In a week when Goldman Sachs reported a 60% drop in first quarter profits, continued media reports of low consumer confidence and uncertainty created through Brexit and a looming American election, we were intrigued to see whether the optimism built up in 2015 was alive and kicking or slowly dissipating. How optimistic were the CEO’s and Chairmen across the Leisure, Travel & Hospitality sector for the second half of 2016 and beyond?

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