Member Spotlight Dr Jenny Simnett

Get to know local IoD member Jenny Simnett

Name: Dr Jenny Simnett

Position/company: Interim Director, NED and Director of Difference Dynamics

How would you describe your business to a total stranger?

I am brought into companies (public, private, not-for-profit) with problems, some they know and understand, some they don’t. I diagnose obstacles to growth and fix them. The required skills are diplomacy, managing resistance to change, building trust and good working relationships quickly, engagement and building teams, resilience and a love of hard work!

Your previous roles:

Many interim roles over the past 25 years in all sorts of organisations including London Underground, Luton Airport, London Fire Brigade, Surrey County Council, and Great Place to Work. I am currently working as a Practice Director (COO) at a firm of patent and trademark attorneys. I decided to take a break at 60 and start a PhD in corporate governance at Henley Business School. Six months later, Covid broke. I guess there are worse things one can do during a pandemic. Everything went online so I interviewed 37 FTSE 350 board directors on Zoom to collect my data.

Other information (eg other positions held, charity roles):

For the past 7 years, I have been a board director and chair of people committee for Tower Hamlets Community Housing, a social housing provider. I have also been a non-exec in charities such as Relate, Carer Support Elmbridge and Samaritans.

More recently, I have been working with a small group of expert consultants developing a ground-breaking board programme on cognitive diversity. We have just launched the first programme under our brand Difference Dynamics (www.difference-dynamics.com) and are receiving a lot of interest.

This board programme will provide a thinking style assessment, skills development, and tangible tools to realise the  impact on performance from cognitive diversity in such areas as strategic decision-making, problem-solving and innovation.

What do you do outside work?

I have just finished a side and rear extension where I live which necessitated living in the garden room for 7 months. It was worth it as I love the new space but now it’s the garden which needs whipping into shape. I enjoy theatre, film and travel. I am a member of a regular canasta-playing group who meet weekly.

How long have you been an IoD member?

I’ve actually been a member for two long periods, separated by a break. I re-joined a few years ago, prompted by doing a research project for the IoD looking at the links between innovation and governance. I missed the fringe benefits, like the legal and tax helplines. It would be great if there was more local networking near me.

Which parts of IoD membership do you value most?

In my earlier membership, I completed the IoD’s Certificate and Diploma in Company Direction. Both were very stimulating and enjoyable programmes which definitely got my CV noticed.

What is the most important issue for the government to tackle?

Climate change, social care, homelessness, housing…. It’s a long list and difficult to say that one area is more important than another.

Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you started out in business?

Be bold! Network! Be yourself!

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years’ time?

I hope to have a portfolio of NED roles which are challenging and stimulating. I hate the R word and don’t intend giving up for a long time yet.

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennysimnettworkplacetransform/

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