A time of clarity – a time of change
Garry Smith, Regional Chairman IoD East Midlands
Welcome to 2020. As you may have heard, our Regional Director, Ron Lynch, is sadly leaving us, to take on a different role with the IoD on a national level. It almost goes without saying that he will be sadly missed. Ron has been, in many ways, the face of the IoD in the East Midlands for many years and has been a tremendous asset, raising the IoD’s profile within the business community and local government. At the same time, he has introduced a host of initiatives and policies that we can be rightly proud of, including our Director of the Year Awards, the Women As Leaders Conference and – something particularly dear to me – the IoD’s close links with universities and students. In addition, he has fought for issues that affect the East Midlands to be heard in Westminster and helped numerous other business leaders and directors in a host of ways. He will be sorely missed, but I’m glad the IoD will be retaining his skills and experience in his new role. Ron steps down as the IoD is reaching the end of a major review of its membership offer as it looks to decentralise and take the IoD closer to the members. The work of the East Midlands office will be overseen by IoD Yorkshire’s Regional Director, Natalie Sykes, for the time being, and with this new structure falling into place, it seemed sensible for me to stand down, too. In truth, I’ve served as Regional Chair for longer than anticipated – five years – and had been looking for an opportunity to pass on the baton to a successor for a while, but events conspired to always make me think ‘now isn’t a good time.’ However, with the new structure coming in, this is exactly the right time to retire, and I’ll step down knowing that my replacement has the ideal opportunity to help mould IoD East Midlands offer to meet the requirements of directors and business leaders of the next decade and beyond. So, the search is on. If you would like to know more about the role, its requirements and your duties, feel free to contact me. The IoD East Midlands office will be coordinating the hunt and I hope we will have a new chair in place by the time the Spring issue of IoD East Midlands comes out. So, a time of changes – which is somewhat ironic, isn’t it as, for the first time in three years, we may be entering a period of stability on the political front. I’ve used this column before to call for an end to the chaos and inertia caused by parliament’s inability to plot a course through Brexit but with Boris Johnson securing a healthy majority, I hope a clear path through to our exit from the EU is now possible. It’s what business has been calling for. Whichever side of the Brexit debate they came down on, all business leaders I have spoken to in the past three years have said they needed clarity; ‘tell us what the landscape looks like and we’ll shape our businesses to suit the new landscape’, they said. But you can’t grow your business or put plans in place when everything is shrouded in fog. Let’s hope it clears as quickly as the reinvigorated Prime Minister has said it will. Can Johnson secure a comprehensive trade deal in 12 months? It seems unlikely, given the horror stories you read about other deals that have been stuck for dozens of years but then, I doubt if any trade deal has ever been attempted between two sides whose regulatory frameworks are already so closely aligned. It gives me hope that while ambitious, Johnson’s 12-month timetable may be possible.
Let’s see. What is definitely happening in the next few months is the East Midlands Director of the Year Awards, our annual opportunity to shine a deserving spotlight on those who have led their businesses with great distinction to new heights in the past 12 months. The awards are a superb way to raise your company profile and inspire your staff to bigger and better things - so what’s stopping you entering? Either make an application or nominate someone you know who you think deserves recognition – and we’ll do the rest. Before I go and sign off for what could possibly be my last column in IoD East Midlands, I’d like to wish you all the best of luck for 2020. 2019 was a turbulent year, one with more downs than ups. Let’s hope that a period of political calm allows us all to take a deep collective breath as we look to take our businesses onwards and upwards. We’ve had enough of being stuck not knowing in which direction to travel: hopefully, with a spot of leadership from London we can get to grips with the new playing field we’re operating in and put in place those ambitious plans we’ve stalled for so long. Let’s invest, innovate, seek new products and markets – and watch us grow!