James has been a member of the IoD since 2004 and joined when he became interested in completing the Chartered Director programme. He is Managing Director of Leader PR, a busy marketing and PR agency based in Warwickshire.
What prompted you to become a member?
"I remember very well actually. I was thinking at the time that I might do an MBA or something similar and as part of my research I discovered the IoD’s Chartered Director qualification. Obviously it made sense to join the IoD for all sorts of reasons, not least of which you had to be a member to become a Chartered Director."
"Ultimately I chose to begin the Chartered Director programme versus the MBA, the main benefit for me being that it was more feasible to maintain my current work platform i.e to continue working on a full time basis whilst studying."
So having done the courses, what do you now find are the benefits?
Well, it needs to be said that the courses themselves were fantastic, very relevant and the best thing I could have done. But I also really value the people I met on the courses who were tussling with the same issues of how to be a better director. I formed friendships and a collegiate situation and became involved with a useful peer group. This was cemented by attending regional meetings and events in which they were also involved.
So is the regional element of your membership important to you?
"Very much so. My business is based just outside Birmingham and there’s a lot of events being organised there, opportunities to engage in current topics and lots of good people to network with. That’s a key benefit as far as I’m concerned. I do come down to London quite regularly and the facilities are excellent and very worthwhile but the regional aspect is a great support for me."
"I’ve joined the Coventry and Warwickshire committee now, so that I can feedback into the IoD network and make sure it remains relevant for all the new members who are joining."
How does the IoD make you better at what you do?
"The Chartered Director programme has definitely made me better at what I do. The whole programme you go through, from matters of governance and finance to the fact you have to sign up to an ethics charter are vital if being a company director is to be the profession it should be. If you’re a director or aspirant director it isn’t just going to happen that society will respect that – you have to earn that respect. The IoD’s commitment to ethics, values and professionalism is an essential part of that."
What kind of challenges are you facing right now?
"There’s always challenges in good and bad times alike. Despite uncertainty, you need to be prepared to stick to your vision and values, which can sometimes mean you have to make uncomfortable decisions. You have to stick to good people, to a training programme to bring new people through and avoid ‘convenience’ decisions. You can’t let your values drift just for the moment because it will keep the figures bubbling along for now. As business people we can be too focused on staying alive rather than thinking about the future."