We talk to IoD South West Chair, Muir Macdonald FREng CDir
Why are you proud to represent the IoD?
A Royal Charter going back more than 100 years implies pre-eminence, stability and permanence – that’s a pretty unique foundation. Yet the IoD is even more relevant today, leading the way in professionalism. I firmly believe that as directors we owe it to ourselves and to our organisations to be professional!
What is the IoD’s role for leaders in your region?
I look at the IoD in the simplest of terms; it’s about promoting good leadership and good governance – essential ingredients for success in any enterprise. Just like any region in the country, or in the world, we are all competing. Competing for talent, competing for the best ideas, and competing for customers. The IoD helps – connecting directors and aspiring directors to new ideas, with new people and so an even greater confidence in the challenges we each face.
Tell me about your region
The South West represents over 7% of the UK economy across a very large 9,200 square miles and a population of 5.5m. The statistics say we’re a region that has a higher than average percentage of economically active people and with higher than average qualifications and so relatively low unemployment. Not surprisingly, we’re said to be the most motivated and happy region of the UK! Our geography gives us a fabulous coastline and access to the sea for trading and leisure, while our history gives us three UNESCO World Heritage sites and more. Our variety shows through in our strong employment sectors, such as high-tech manufacturing, agriculture/fishing, tourism, financial services and the public sector. We’re also home to the second largest aerospace cluster in Europe, and an impressive cyber cluster around Cheltenham and Bristol. At my last count, we have 14 universities and are classed by the EU as an ‘innovation leader’ – some 32% better than the EU average. In short, it’s a vibrant, varied and exciting place to live and work!
Which sectors would you like to attract?
I’d hazard a guess that we are already the most varied region of the UK, well represented across the sectors and by the smallest to the largest enterprises. So, the door is already open to everyone. For the IoD, I am particularly keen that we appeal to, and offer something for, all leaders in all sectors; across private, public and third sectors. We all have something to learn from and to benefit from IoD membership. And, the wider we can make our membership, the richer are the opportunities for how the IoD can serve our members.
What are you most looking forward to, as IoD regional chair, in the next 12 months?
I take the chair at a time when the UK and our region face some unique challenges of leadership and governance. At the same time, the IoD is adapting to a changing world and I sense we’ll see more focus in its membership offer and how it exploits new technology. So, with that backdrop, I see myself building on the very good work of Nick Sturge, my predecessor, and doing even more to connect the IoD to our members, and connecting our members to the IoD’s benefits. Most importantly, I hope to help the IoD reach all corners and all sectors of our South West Region.
Finally, what's your personal business ethos?
Having had the extraordinary privilege of leadership in both the public and private sectors, the maxim of the ‘triple bottom line’ is an enormous motivator. The trick is about getting the balance right between people, planet and profit…