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Meet the Chair

We talk to Alastair Naisbitt King, The IoD City of London chair, about the business leaders in his region

Why are you pleased to represent the IoD?

I am honoured to be chairing the IoD in the City of London. The principal focus of the IoD is to encourage strong and efficient leadership, both in business and governance across many sectors. The opportunity is huge, given the talent, diversity and energy of those of us who work in the City.

What’s the IoD’s role with the City’s business leaders?

The IoD City branch is international, diverse and unique. This branch is in the heart of the square mile and as such our members, stakeholders and partners regularly collaborate with the City of London Corporation and the government. The IoD City branch endeavours to engage our members with local and international businesses, trade missions, embassies and high commissions.

Tell me a little more about your members

Since the branch was founded in 1981 we have grown to 1,000 members who work in a variety of job sectors. These range from small businesses and start-ups to city institutions and governmental positions. In recent years the IoD City branch has attracted a diverse group of younger business leaders and we are delighted that the number of female members is on the rise, something we hope will continue. We have a higher percentage of members under 40 than any other Branch.

Our members principal passions lie in the following four sectors:  China, property, financial services and young executives. They are particularly interested in international trade, innovation, entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility. 

What is so unique about your region?

The IoD City branch is based in the centre of the financial capital of the world. It is blossoming in areas such as Fintech, Green Finance and Islamic Finance. This is not only advantageous for our City members but for all of our members nationwide. The City is once again in a period of growth and it is an exciting time for innovation and entrepreneurial activity. 

What does your region/branch offer business leaders?

Our branch not only has strong ties with Livery companies in the City but also with the City of London Corporation. Several IoD City Chairs have gone on to become Lord Mayors, including most recently Sir David Wootton.

We aim to host several events throughout the course of the year. These are always well attended. The events tend to be on general business topics or focused on one of our four special interest sectors. One of our most prominent events is our annual dinner, and the All Party Parliamentary China Group meeting at the House of Commons. 

What are you most looking forward to, as IoD regional chair, in the next 12 months?

I look forward to working alongside the committee, with input from our stakeholders and decision makers to ensure that we can continue to build upon our events programme. I would like to further develop the four key sectors of interest for our members, whilst highlighting and promoting business innovation and achievement. I would like to strengthen our ties with the City of London Corporation, the voluntary sector and the Armed Forces.

Finally what's your personal business ethos?

I have three clear beliefs. Firstly, for a business to succeed it should have exceptional management and governance in place. Secondly, effective teamwork is crucial for creating and encouraging innovation. Respect in the workplace is essential for business success. Diversity and originality are the ways to differentiate business in this competitive market.

We talk to David Gordon of DG Law, Chair of IoD Central London.

Why are you pleased to represent the IoD?

The IoD has a key role in speaking up for business on a national level. It draws in founders and business leaders from across the spectrum which means as members we are part of an organisation which has a wide diversity of interests and members. So it is a privilege to be given the responsibility of supporting those members and the aims of organisation.

As an institute the IOD also provides a huge number of different opportunities for members to learn to be better directors and leaders and at the same time develop business opportunities through networking with fellow members. So it is my role to help facilitate those opportunities and interactions for the wider member community.

As Chairman of the Central London Branch I look forward to shaping an exciting and different programme of events which encourage members to come together, to learn, share their business experiences and help grow their businesses. 

What’s the IoD’s role in business in London?

London as you know is one of the most diverse, complex and flexible economies within the UK and as a city across the world. We host so many different types of organisations and leaders who are all competing on a huge number different levels. I’d like to see the IoD better represent that diversity through its membership and the things that we do in London. We have made ground on some key areas for example age and gender, but I’d like to see that diversity improve on all aspects, both in who we have as members and who we engage with across London.

I’d like to see the IoD in general and the branch in particular be a “central” in every sense of the word. We have many members who come to London to be at the “heart” of things and we as an organisation and as a branch have the obligation to help support those members in developing themselves as leaders and widening their sphere of influence. So that our member can learn from other leaders in their field and open up opportunities for themselves and their businesses. 

Tell me a little about your members.

We have over 5000 members which makes the branch the largest branch in the UK and means we should be the most representative of the IoD membership as a whole. Members are drawn from a wide number of sectors with particular clusters around Technology, Finance, Property and Learning.

For those that own their businesses then our members are mainly SME’s, but as you know membership is linked to an individual and not a Company. We therefore have members that are employed and represent many of the largest London corporations and in some cases Global brands multinationals. So the opportunity for our members to reach across and interact with all sectors and sizes of businesses is unique.

As mentioned above we would like to improve and develop a wider and more diverse group across all measures. I’d like to see us reach out into key London sectors, for example tourism, retail and property amongst others. So that we can help enable those that are investing in and growing their businesses have access to as many of the key sectors and players as possible. 

What is so unique about your region?

Geographically we must be the smallest region, but of course density of living and working population is unique in the UK. We also have a huge international dimension to business which makes it a very flexible, open and meritocratic environment. It's fast paced so it's important for us as a branch to keep up with trends and changes in business and help keep our members up to date on latest developments and innovations.  

What does your region / branch offer business leaders?

We are uniquely placed to host events in some of the most high profile locations and can facilitate our members to meet a wide range speakers and organisations. In the recent past for example we have we hosted events at the Houses of Parliament where the editor of City AM Christian May and Lord Bilamoura toasted the success of the branch.

We have one of the strongest offering for young directors and have a strong events programme which enables new and developing directors take their businesses to the next level. Our member have been able to meet with and interrogate and learn from influential entrepreneurs, for example the founder of Café Nero, Paul Ettinger. 

While many of our events take place at 116 Pall Mall increasingly we are looking to broaden our reach across London and co-host our events with other leading organisations. We are always keen to work with owners of interesting and unique locations and organisations to allow our members to broaden their business connections.

 What are you most looking forward to as IoD Chair in the next 12 months?

We have a unique opportunity to deliver on our branch goal of being the most diverse and active group of business leaders and entrepreneurs. I’d like to see us be a centre of excellence for Directors where they meet and develop their leadership skills and grow their businesses. 

I’m looking forward to working with my very able group of committee members who will help me develop and deliver on what I hope is an exciting and different programme of events.

I’d like us to focus on key sectors which are relevant to our London members for example, technology, tourism, retail and property.

I aim to increase our links and profile with other high profile organisations within London and I’d like to see us pilot and deliver events in new and innovative ways so our members can have ready access to best possible networking and learning opportunities.

What is your personal business ethos?

I try very hard to work within three key values of transparency, flexibility and honourability. The first two are relatively straight forward and easy to understand. The last while essentially integrity, I try and make it go further by being open, honest and accountable with those that I work with. I hope members will help me live up to those values and tell me where I fall short!

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