Garry Smith is commercial director at Nottingham Trent University. He is both a fellow of the IoD and a chartered director and has been chair of the East Midlands region since 2014.
How long have you been involved with the IoD?
I have been a member for approaching 20 years and a chartered director since 2004. In recent years I have supported its work locally and nationally through my involvement with the student membership scheme.
What does the IoD do for business leaders in your region?
We represent the membership's views both to the policy makers within the region and to the IoD centrally. We give members the opportunity to get directly involved in relevant policy matters and we support local business leaders by offering high-quality professional development events.
We have a varied range of business, networking and social events. We have a thriving Young Directors’ Forum (YDF) and there is a sustained emphasis on encouraging and supporting women in leadership roles.
What’s the East Midlands membership like?
We have around 1,500 members with an additional 300 student members. Financial and professional services account for a significant number, but all sectors are represented including agriculture and horticulture, construction, high-technology engineering (automotive, rail and aero engines, together with Formula 1), pharmaceuticals, fashion, retail, food and drink manufacturing, logistics, tourism, renewables, design and digital technologies.
Which sectors would you like to attract more of?
We would like to gain more members from the public sector as this would generally help the dialogue between public and private sector.
What is so unique about your region?
It is the third-most rural region in the country with a coastline stretching from the Humber Estuary to the Wash. East Midlands airport carries four million passengers to over 80 destinations each year. It supports 6,000 jobs and is the UK’s number-one airport for pure freight.
The main centres of population are Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln and Leicester and Northampton, but it is characterised by the largest number of market towns of any region. Major attractions include Sherwood Forest, Newstead Abbey, the Derbyshire Peak District, Skegness and the Lincolnshire coast, Lincoln Cathedral, Silverstone, Belvoir Castle, Chatsworth House and the National Space Centre.
Businesses and brands include Boots, Raleigh, Experian, Paul Smith, Speedo, Next, Walkers, Rolls-Royce.
What has your region/branch done in the past year that you are particularly proud of?
- Mock trial for corporate manslaughter to highlight the responsibilities of directors
- Student £10 Challenge involving 200 students and 50 mentors raising nearly £14,000 for charity in 10 days from enterprising activities
- Director of the Year Awards
What are you most looking forward to, as IoD regional chair, in the next 12 months?
It is a very interesting time with the economy being both successful and fragile. Coupled with the Brexit vote, it is an uncertain time for business and one when the IoD's voice is very much needed to add balance and substance to a sometimes emotional debate.
Finally, what's your personal business ethos?
As a long-time marketer I believe in being customer focused for the benefit of shareholders, employees and the society in which we operate. Consumer insight is probably the greatest asset required to deliver this.