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IoD Cheshire Update – A word from the Chair, January 2020

30 Jan 2020

As we wrap up the first month of 2020, it’s already gearing up to be an exceptionally busy year for the Institute of Directors in Cheshire. 

In my first year as Chair, my aim was to build a committee of passionate leaders to represent the issues that matter to directors here in Cheshire and create a new level of energy around the IoD’s activities across the county. To that end, it was an incredibly successful first year with eight new committee members appointed (including myself) –

Rob McKay – MD, Sherrington Associates: Chair
Jamie Christon – COO, Chester Zoo, Tourism & Transport Ambassador 
Julian Cobley – Partnership Director, Engie: Skills & Apprenticeships Ambassador
Clara Hughes – MD, Zebra Marketing: Business & The Arts Ambassador
Stephen Law-Lyons – MD, APC Cardiovascular: Health & Wellbeing Ambassador
David Maisey DL OBE – CEO, ICC Solutions: Export Ambassador
Lucy Powers – Director, Powers & Tiltman: Family Business Ambassador
Ian Traynor C-Dir – MD, Luminate Ventures, Professional Development Ambassador

The team meet monthly at Chester Zoo working on projects to support members across their ambassadorial areas. In 2019 we hosted four extremely well-attended member events, with up to 80 directors coming together to learn, connect and be inspired by leaders from across the region – 

June - Welcome By The New Chair, Booth Mansion
July - Business Resilience Event, Chester Zoo

August –  Netwalking & BBQ, Success Factory 

November – Christmas Social, Nunsmere Hall

So an incredible year where many of you connected and collaborated as a result of attending our events, but as we move into 2020 things get even busier... 


The year started with a bang as Stephen chaired the first event of the year at, our Workplace Wellbeing Conference at the Warrington Wolves Halliwell Jones Stadium in partnership with Active  Cheshire. Over 80 delegates joined for a passionate discussion from an expert panel including Dr Colin Robertson of University of Bolton, Mark Brocklehurst MD of Sharples Group, Philip Dyer MD of Healthy Leaders, Chris Gold of Workplace Mental Health, Anne Boyd CEO of Active Cheshire and David Pollock Executive Chairman of Chess Telecom. Members enjoyed insights from the panel whilst Active Cheshire provided some ‘active entertainment’ and prizes!


Moving into February, the LGBT+ Directors Network is a brand new IoD North West initiative led by IoD Regional Director Claire Ebrey, to provide a space for LGBT+ Directors and allies to support each other, raise confidence, provide visibility and thus be role models and to increase influence and impact as directors and their first event of 2020 is being held at Chester Zoo on Thursday 6th February at 4pm. Guests will enjoy a private tour of the lion and lemur enclosures followed by a three-course dinner at The Oakfield with Jamie Christon, COO of Chester Zoo and Carl Austin-Behan OBE. Book here.

Then on Tuesday 25th February, IoD Cheshire has teamed up with Chester Business Club to bring an update on the transport situation in the North West with a breakfast update from Mungo Duncan, Regional Manager for Avanti West Coast following their takeover from Virgin of the West Coast Main Line. Knowing the importance of a well run service, Jamie Christon has responded to member enquiries on the changeover by putting on this event at the Chester Grosvenor Hotel. Book here


As March dawns, we turn to ‘director professional development with Ian Traynor. Ian is a chartered IoD director and a visiting Fellow at Henley. Ian and I were lucky enough to attend the IoD NW Professional Development Series in Manchester last October (you can read my write up here) to learn more about ‘The role of the Non-Exec’, ‘Boardroom Dynamics’ and ‘Strategic Decision Making’. The content was exceptionally valuable, so much so that we’ve decided to run the day again here in Cheshire in June this year, however Ian is running a taster-session at Alderley Park on Thursday March 12thyou can book here.


Then into April, our Skills Ambassador Julian has partnered with Macclesfield College to bring you an insight into why hiring an apprentice is your best investment on Thursday 23rd April. This event is for anyone considering hiring an apprentice either now or in the future. Sandy Lindsay MBE, Chair of Juice Academy, Kim Hardman, UK Apprentice Programme Manager at Astra Zeneca, Andy Gray, Training Manager at Proseal UK and Tracey Cosgrove, Director of Employer Enterprise & Commercial Services at Macclesfield College will share firsthand knowledge about the impact that hiring apprentices can have for your business. Book here.


Did you know that there is a higher than average percentage of family businesses in Cheshire and Warrington than in other LEP areas in the North West? Our family business guru Lucy Powers has collaborated with The Family Business Network and the IoD is proud to be supporting their Family Business Conference on Thursday 14th May at the University of Chester. IoD members will be eligible for a discount to the conference which includes speakers such as Sir Michael Bibby amongst directors of other high-profile Cheshire family businesses. Lucy will chair a panel discussion on ‘Family Business Dynamics’ something she knows all about having led successful surveying business Powers & Tiltman with her husband for many years.


On Thursday 11th June we’re back to Alderley Park (this time to the amazing Glass House) to bring you the IoD Professional Development Series. Due to increasing interest from members following last year’s series in Manchester, it is fantastic to be running the series here in Cheshire. Members can learn about ‘Boardroom Dynamics’, ‘Strategic Decision-Making’, ‘Leading from the Chair’ and ‘Renewing your Licence to Lead’. Book here. 


On Thursday 9th July it’s the turn of our Business & The Arts Ambassador Clara Hughes to bring to members a collection of insights into how having a closer connection to the arts can help your business. Business owners and directors are so often blinkered by the muck and bullets of daily operations that they can’t see the wood for the trees. Creatives from the arts have often been able to solve complex business challenges by viewing the problem from a different lens of perspective and Clara’s event held at the award-winning Storyhouse in Chester will give members a chance to learn more. More details to follow asap so stay tuned on our North West event page.


It’s amazing how much the quality of conversation improves when you take people outdoors which is we’re making the most of the summer weather (hopefully!) with three amazing al-fresco Cheshire events this August…

First up it’s time for the IoD North West Annual Golf Day on Monday 6th August. Hosted by our Regional Director and regular golfer Claire Ebrey at The Tytherington Club in Macclesfield, if you’re a golfing enthusiast this one is not to be missed. Book here.

Then on Wednesday 12th August we’re catering for the cyclists in the flock. They say cycling is ‘the new golf’, so we’ve teamed up with Andy Mills of Pedalare for an IoD North West networking ride around the leafy lanes of Cheshire. Watch this space for route details…

Finally, following the success of our amazing ‘netwalking’ event last summer where we frog-marched 65 directors through the Peckforton Hills then fed them a BBQ fit for royalty back at the Success Factory, we’re re-running the event this year on Thursday 27th August – location to be confirmed so watch this space!


On Thursday 17th September we return to the Glass House in Alderley Park for a discussion on the increasing demand in ‘Digital Skills’ in Cheshire. Julian Cobley will host a lively debate on the subject. Speakers will be announced in due course.


October is a busy time for manufacturers and those involved in importing / exporting consumer goods as we gear up for Christmas, which is why it is apt that we hold our first IoD Cheshire exporting event this month. Chaired by David Maisey DL OBE  who is CEO of ICC Solutions in Warrington, a Queen’s Award winning exporter of card payment technology, David is also the Chair of the Cheshire Commonwealth Association. Venue and speakers TBC. Keep checking the events page for more details.


It seems like Christmas is getting earlier and earlier these days, but following the success of last year’s IoD Cheshire Christmas Social at Nunsmere Hall which was also held in the final weeks of November, we thought we’d run it back in 2020! On Thursday 26th November you can catch up with members from the Cheshire flock and hear what the committee has been up to – and what they have planned for 2021! Keep checking the events page for more details.


We’re taking a break!


So it’s a busy year of events in Cheshire but being part of the IoD community isn’t just about events. The Cheshire committee are also involved involved in a number of collaborative projects both regionally and nationally….

IoD on Tour – In a concerted effort to take the IoD into under-represented communities such as the Greater Manchester African diaspora and the Manchester Chinese community, the IoD on Tour is a series of events taking place throughout the North West region through the early months of 2020. The IoD has taken steps to improve the diversity of its’ membership in recent years and the North West has been a leading light in this area. The first event in the calendar was the ‘Women of Purpose Conference’ in January where speakers included our Manchester Chair, Sharon Amesu, leading NED and executive coach Olive Strachan MBE, IoD NW Diversity Ambassador Claire-Marie Boggiano and Chair of Tangerine Communications, Sandy Lindsay MBE. Also speaking and flying the flag for Cheshire was our very own Stephen Law-Lyons who gave a passionate talk about ‘starting from scratch’ and setting up your own business. To get more involved with future ‘IoD on Tour’ events, contact the North West office for details.

Sustainability Interest Group – The SIG was launched to address the question of how the IoD can support it’s members to be more responsible directors when it comes to sustainability and the first meeting was held on January 14th at Pall Mall. I attended as the representative for the Cheshire committee. The event was a lively debate, chaired by Edwin Morgan, Head of Policy for the IoD and with around 20 members in attendance. In a recent Policy Voice survey of members, over 90% confirmed they wanted to take action on the topics surrounding sustainability but didn’t know how or where to start, so the group debated how the ethical, financial, environmental and societal aspects of sustainability could be supported with the IoD’s professional development offering. It was no surprise that the climate emergency took centre stage and the acknowledgement that the IoD itself should also look to declaring its’ own commitment to sustainability and leading by example, something that gained positive consensus by all. Whilst the scale of the challenge we all face and the gravity of the consequences of non-action can’t be downplayed, I came away with a positive sense that the IoD is genuinely interested in supporting members to be the most sustainable directors they can be and whilst there’s a mammoth task ahead, the creation of the SIG and the proposed actions are a decisively positive step forward. Anyone members looking to follow the campaign priorities and understand more about what the IoD is doing on sustainability should visit the IoD Sustainable Business Hub.

Northern Transport Agenda

As decisions loom for Boris around HS2 following pledges to bolster national infrastructure to support the Northern Powerhouse throughout his election campaign, the NW Chairs and their committees are coming together to discuss what the region really needs from transport and infrastructure investment. Representing Cheshire, Jamie and I will be attending a meeting in Manchester later this month with Dr Alan James, the IoD’s National Transport & Infrastructure Ambassador who was appointed to the role in November 2019. Alan is a former Vice President of Virgin Hyperloop One and has more than 20 years infrastructure experience including roles such as CEO UK Ultraspeed for Siemens/Thyssen Krupp and Project Director for HS2. Anyone interested in hearing outcomes from the meeting or putting forward a view in advance should contact IoD Cheshire’s Transport & Infrastructure Ambassador, Jamie Christon via his PA – [email protected] 

IoD Cheshire Partner Events:

Finally, we’re also pleased to support the following events organised by our partners in Cheshire during Feb and March…

Cheshire Commonwealth Association – Commonwealth Day Exporting Event, 9th March at the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), Joddrell Bank, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 9FT

Mersey Dee Alliance – MDA Networking Event, 21st Feb at The Chester Grosvenor Hotel, Eastgate Street, Chester, CH1 1LT

It’s going to be an immensely exciting and very productive 2020 for IoD Cheshire and I look forward to seeing you all out and about as we move through the year.

Best wishes,

Rob McKay
Chair – Institute of Directors, Cheshire Branch
Managing Director, Sherrington Associates

For more information, please contact

0161 521 8133

North West
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