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.

Challenging the Balance of Executive Power

Diversity isn’t a numbers game – it’s a power game, and one that most companies are losing. Strong representation of women on boards has been achieved thanks to the rapid ascent of female NEDs. But for a company to be truly gender diverse, diverse groups must hold a healthy grip of the executive decision-making pendulum. Clearly that can only happen by gaining a more critical mass of such talent in the most powerful C-suite roles. So what’s holding companies back?

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Candidates Hold All The Cards – And It Is Rewriting All The Rules

The dynamics of the talent landscape has been upended over the past two years. Despite predictions of mass unemployment throughout the pandemic, what transpired was a fierce war for talent and an even greater drive towards transformation and organisational change. In parallel, the COVID crisis prompted a major mindset shift from employees both in regard to what they seek from their employers and realising their own value. One thing has become crystal clear: candidates now hold all the cards…

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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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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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People, Talent & Culture – Insights Oct 2021

The role of the people function has never been more important. Businesses are in a rapidly increasing war for talent and we’re seeing that organisations without exceptional people functions are quickly losing ground. This article looks at the latest market insights and trends affecting the People, Talent & Culture function, and the impact it has on the current and future performance.

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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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Report: Breaking Ground

Diversity is not just a moral obligation or the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint – it’s an economic imperative, powering more profitable, innovative and creative businesses. Through this report, supported by interviews with 24 female E&C CEOs and executive leaders and a range of quantitative data, Savannah Group explores the sheer scale of the challenge and an actionable roadmap to achieving better diversity.

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Report: Succession Planning with Military Precision

This report in Savannah Groups’s People and Performance series features lessons for CEOs from the Armed Forces. The British military is renowned for its world-class leadership. Over centuries, they have honed a highly effective structure for identifying and developing leadership talent. The trio of organisations that make up the British Armed Forces – the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force – are each the size of a FTSE 100 company and have their own leader responsible for managing tens of thousands of people and billions of pounds of budget and assets. They represent the UK on the global geo-political stage, including security, trade, foreign relations and international business partnerships.

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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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Onboarding a New Leader — Remotely

Imagine that you have a new supply-chain leader starting next week. You hired her to do supply-chain transformation before the crisis took hold. But now she is joining remotely and inheriting a remote team, and her short-term, urgent priorities are very different from what they appeared to be before the pandemic. As her manager, how can you make her onboarding experience a productive one? What can you do to support her so that she’ll hit the ground running?

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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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Gender Diversity in Technology

Why do clients value diversity and why is it so difficult? Our clients are continually asking us to focus on diversity – and within technology, particularly on gender diversity. Focusing on diversity just to box tick won’t get you very far, but an authentic, full-hearted commitment at the most senior levels of leadership will reap significant benefits for your company. We’ve compiled some practical advice on how organisations can address this ongoing issue.

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The £45 Billion Opportunity

Recently published analysis by Deloitte found that poor mental health costs UK businesses up to £45 billion each year – a rise of 16% since 2016. Rob Stephenson, Founder of InsideOut is a campaigner for creating healthier workplaces. Rob describes mental health as one of the big challenges of our lifetime. So how do we capitalise on this £45 billion opportunity? And what is the role of the board and the executive committee in really pushing the mental health agenda forwards? To explore these questions, InsideOut partnered with Savannah Group for an event hosted at KPMG to bring a room of senior executives together to educate and inspire about the opportunities addressing mental health in the workplace can bring.

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The Business Case for a Neurodiverse Workforce

Analysis of FTSE 100 & 250 appointments through 2018 showed that 62% of FTSE 100 board appointments in the second half of 2018 were women. But simply hitting a diversity target isn’t enough. Diversity requires diverse thought, experiences and opinions. With 10% of the workforce estimated as neurodivergent, and talent scarcity among the skills that some neurodivergent individuals excel at, for the organisations that are brave the potential upside is huge. So how can organisations build a more inclusive environment?

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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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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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Is It Time To Go Back To The Fundamentals of Leadership?

Leadership development is a $200 billion industry. From coaching existing leaders, to teaching new MBAs, to books and courses, businesses and individuals are spending a huge amount of money in the pursuit of producing or becoming a better leader. But is it working? We invited a dozen Group HRDs to discuss this at a breakfast briefing co-hosted with the Harvard Business Review and chaired by Ron Ashkenas, an Emeritus Partner of US-based Schaffer Consulting.

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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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How AI, Cloud And Blockchain Is Inciting The Next Corporate Technological Revolution

Savannah Group recently hosted an event for a selection of CIOs, CTOs and CDOs and invited Dr Jai Menon, Chief Scientist at Cloudistics to lead a discussion on the major technological changes driving change in organisations at the moment.

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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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Will Employee Experience Be the Death Knell for Executive Interims?

Employee engagement is out, and employee experience has emerged as its successor. Tailored, highly personal, and focused on the individual rather than the collective, a focus on employee experience aims to use a multitude of feedback tools, apps and self-service technologies to improve the employee experience.

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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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12 Emerging HR Technologies & Trends to Keep Your Eye On

The HR tech space is exploding, with over 135 start-ups innovating across the HR value chain. Due to the sheer volume of start-ups and how fragmented the HR Tech space is, it can be difficult for HR leaders to keep abreast of new and emerging technologies and prioritise which technologies are worth exploring. We welcomed a selection of Group HRDs for a presentation and discussion focused on the workplace as a native function, what the trends and emerging technologies are and what the HR function can do to encourage innovation.

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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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Are we pushing diversity in business fast enough?

Diversity matters. It is important for humanity, for education and, most notably, for business. Diverse leadership teams ignite more creativity and innovation, with a range of backgrounds, experiences and mindsets all contributing to business, customer and product development. This, in turn, encourages and promotes more inclusive attitudes, which attract the top talent that every business needs for fast financial growth.

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Executive Briefing: The Future of the IT Organisation

Savannah Group and Leading Edge Forum recently hosted a breakfast briefing at Savannah’s offices in London to discuss “The Future of the IT Organisation”. Bill Murray of LEF presented key findings from a recent LEF research report, with a subsequent roundtable debate with fifteen CIOs/CTOs and CDOs on whether there will be an IT Organisation in the future.

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Does Culture Still Eat Strategy For Breakfast? If So, What’s For Lunch??

Perhaps most famously, the importance of culture was summed up in Peter Drucker’s famous quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, but to what degree is this still true in today’s disrupted age? In a business world awash with private funding, and an insatiable appetite from shareholders of public companies for increasing returns year on year, is culture still seen as a priority by current business leaders?

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5 Critical Questions Senior Executives Must Ask As Their Organisation Implements AI

It’s hard to ignore the hype surrounding Artificial Intelligence. If it hasn’t been deployed within your organisation already, the deployment of AI within most businesses looks inevitable. Decisions being made right now about AI within your organisation bring significant opportunities such as cost savings, new insights into data patterns and enhanced customer service but it also brings risks and vulnerabilities.

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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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How To Bring Diversity To Your Executive Team

In a rush to bring diverse talent to an organisation, few stop to ask themselves why they are actually doing this. What is it about the sex or race of a particular candidate that makes them the best fit? What does the company hope to gain by seeking out a more diverse group of candidates in general? Answering those important questions holds the key to unlocking the potential of a diverse organisation, and that requires redefining what diversity is.

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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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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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The past was yours, but the future’s mine

I attended an incredibly engaging talk by Mark Shayler towards the end of 2016 that concerned the current age of disruption that is occurring globally. In this article I discuss and highlight five of the key power shifts he outlined.

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Diversity in Fintech: A 15 to 35% Boost In Performance?

Recent studies have highlighted how male-dominated FinTech boards are, with some studies finding that as much as 69% of FinTech firms’ boards are entirely male. These findings coupled with a significant amount of research suggesting a lack of racial and gender diversity at Board level in Technology and Finance should create a cause for concern among FinTech companies.

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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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