Alex Chikhani’s journey to chartered director

IoD Inclusivity and Diversity ambassador in the South West, Alex Chikhani, is CEO of CirculAIRity, a business he founded last year.

The business’ mission is close to his heart; to make flying truly net zero by radically reducing the aviation industry’s environmental impact through the supply of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

An entrepreneur with a military background, Alex was formerly a logistics officer in the RAF, where, as a fuel subject matter expert, his responsibilities included managing delivery of the British fuel supply chain throughout Afghanistan.

After gaining an MBA from Cranfield School of Management and becoming a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, Alex held a variety of roles in the defence, technology, telecommunications, tourism and hospitality, infrastructure, and finance sectors. He is also a trustee of two charities, sits on two boards at a national level, and is particularly interested in organisations with a strong environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) purpose.

As an innovative business leader and SME director, Alex sought to build on his experiences and the more formalised learning of his MBA with the learning along with pragmatic skills offered through the Chartered Director programme.

“I was an experienced director for 10 years before I joined the IoD and started the programme, but despite that I have learnt a considerable amount about the legal and governance responsibilities of being a director as well as how organisations should be run with effective leadership and strategy. Having ‘done’ a number of modules similar to these in the past, I was impressed by the breadth and depth that the IoD course went into as well as the exceptionally practical nature of the delivery.”

To date, Alex has completed the Certificate in Company Direction and sits the Diploma in Company Direction in November, before being assessed for the Chartered Director qualification.

Alex said: “The course is a professional qualification that is pragmatically directed and targeted. I felt like I was on receive from the first module and now have a hugely increased skillset across people, budgets, legal responsibilities and strategy – making me more astute and giving me the critical thinking skills to assess and challenge the business landscape.

“The course was intense but enjoyable and I feel that I have grown personally as well as there being a big immediate practical benefit to the businesses and charities I work with.”

Alex was joined on the course by 12 people and says the value of the connections he has already made with his peer group can’t be underestimated – with one course member joining the board of CirculAIRity as a non-executive director. He didn’t undertake the course with the aim to recruit anyone into the business but says the IoD community opens the opportunity to have direct conversations with an incredible network which is a significant benefit.

Alex said: “The solution to sustainability in aviation is global. CirculAIRity offers the technical expertise and my participation in the Chartered Director programme, along with our core ESG values, gives us the added professional and business credibility to attract the investment, customers and suppliers to be part of that global solution.

“Members of our senior management team have also completed the course and we all see the value in it. I would recommend the Chartered Director programme as a professional qualification which gives access to insightful learning and the development of new skills as well as a supportive network of trusted colleagues to call upon. The course surpassed my expectations, and, in due course, we would like to offer it to all our directors as a key part of their professional development.”

Alex Chikhani is CEO of CirculAIRity

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The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.
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