IoD Essex Branch Interim Chair Introduction
Your name: John Cockburn-Evans M.Eng. C.Eng. F.I.Chem.E. PCC MIoD
Your title/role and company name: Owner and Founder of Aspire2Blean
Your IoD branch: Suffolk
Your IoD Branch role: Interim Chair
Your social media handles e.g Twitter, LinkedIn etc
Twitter @aspire2blean @accenditcoach @lean2sustain
Q: How long have you been involved with the IoD?
I joined the IoD in 2015 and became a Suffolk Ambassador in December 2017
Q: Can you tell us a little about your career to date?
I am the owner and founder of Aspire2Blean, a productivity-based consultancy and I have spent 35 years plus in the chemical and manufacturing industries working inside and latterly consulting with large corporate companies around the world. Aspire also has clients in the Midlands, East Anglia, London & Essex, providing support through executive and leadership coaching driving behavioural shift, productivity improvements, and cultural transformation.
Q: What do you hope to achieve as an IoD Branch Interim Chair?
I would like to bring the branch together more and get closer to our existing members in such a way, that as a branch, we can understand their needs, and hopefully meet them. I would like to get the message across that the Chartered Institute of Directors is continually evolving in a way that will support better boardroom activities and governance. The CPD that is in the pipeline will enable all those who partake the chance to become better Directors, in a way that meets the demands of modern business driven by both stakeholder needs, as well as shareholder engagement. As a branch we want to deliver only high-quality events that reflects the IoD position on governance and thought leadership.
Q: If you could give your 21 year old self some advice what would it be?
Get as much deep and broad business experience as you can, while you have the drive and energy. Intellectual and experiential diversity is critical to personal success. Do not be afraid to ask and put yourself out there.
Q: What keeps you busy outside of work?
When not working internationally I enjoy competitive motorsport at top UK circuits including Snetterton in my classic mini. I have just completed the first draft of my business book on change management and cultural transformation, which hopefully will be available in early 2021.
Q: Are there any business related or policy issues that keep you awake at night?
As far as I am concerned having the appropriate road and rail infrastructure is critical to success for the region. I have long held the opinion that central government, should be investing more money in this area to keep us competitive both regionally and as UK plc. Liverpool has invested heavily in a new container port, with the view to enticing traffic away from Felixstowe, knowing that the local infrastructure from our ports to hubs is under capacity. As budgets get tighter post COVID, the monies going into infrastructure need to be invested wisely with the opportunities for growth. Growth follows infrastructure, not the other way round. Infrastructure projects need to be coordinated and make sense. I am heartened to see a recent BEIS report highlighting the commitment of £22bn per year in R&D funding by 2024. Suffolk and the region can play a major part in this by being a pivotal part of the “Tech Diamond” as Ipswich, Norwich, Cambridge, and the City.
We need to ignite the passion in our youngsters for interest in science, engineering, business, and commerce. This is not just about preaching and providing more money, but it is about extolling the virtues of performance, opportunity, meritocracy, and rewards for success. The new T-Levels are a huge step forward in supporting vocational opportunities. As a branch we will be reaching out to colleges and universities as these students will be our future directors in large companies, SMEs or as entrepreneurs.
Q: Why do you think business leaders should join the IoD?
The existing breadth and depth of talent in the IoD is tremendous. Every time I read papers, go to meetings, or visit Pall Mall, I get energised by the levels of thought leadership and experience which we need to share more widely. The level of high-end services (marketing, legal, certifications, library) that are provided are not always utilised or communicated directly, which will be a challenge for the leadership and ambassadors. We must get existing members to utilise these more, so they are in a better position to get others to join, and actively increase new members, through events and networking. I believe there a lot of people who do not understand what the IoD can provide. We must not let our members and future members have a perception that it is all about senior executives and oak panelled rooms. The intention is that the IoD will be an appropriate organisation for young and future directors.
Governance and boardroom activity will have even more focus with time. The IoD is the best place for training and shared experience in this area.