Meet your Inclusion and Diversity ambassador in Surrey John Kerner

Get to know your Inclusion and Diversity ambassador in Surrey.


John Kerner


Director at D7 Advisers Ltd

Describe your current role/company:   

I founded D7 Advisers to support my professional portfolio as a NED, adviser and consultant helping private, public and third-sector organisations make better quality decisions with a particular focus on ESG.

My services range from SME board advisory, to helping senior leaders develop programmes and projects with greater confidence and recover those in crisis.  Everything focusses on creating the future with care, by minimising the impact that poor decisions have on people, the planet and prosperity.

Previous roles:  

I spent over 25 years in Defence, changing roles every couple of years, working internationally and solving complex problems often at the highest national levels in Chief of Staff, Exec Director and COO/CEO equivalent appointments as a senior officer.

Then a further 5 years with National Highways Ltd as the Special Projects Director, where I led the planning and delivery of multi-£M national infrastructure resilience projects over the Brexit period.

Other information:

I sit on the HighGround charity board, I’m an ambassador for the OnBoarding Officers programme and mentor for BuildForce.  These are all organisations that help soldiers, sailors and aviators successfully transition from the military.

I’m also a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport, APM Charted Project Professional and member of the Non-Executive Directors Association, Corporate Governance Institute and Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

Outside work (hobbies/interests):

My portfolio career allows me to create value with the people and organisations I enjoy working with, but also affords me the flexibility to focus on my personal and professional relationships and pursue a range of outdoor passions ranging from gardening and hill-walking to occasional mountain climbing and flying.

How long have you been an IoD member?   

I’ve been an IoD member since 2016 after gaining the IoD Certificate in Company Direction during my transition from the Armed Forces.

Describe your role as an Ambassador:

Inclusion means everyone and as a military veteran I recognise diversity as a catalyst for higher performing teams.  I’m passionate about helping organisations make better quality decisions, so as an ambassador I’ll be encouraging more organisations to explore how they can adopt the recommendations of the IoD Future of Business report and harvest the best combination of talent to deliver future success.

What part of IoD membership do you value most?

The part of my IoD membership I value the most is as a community of practise.  Not only does it help me remain current and competent, but supports my development as a professional director whilst also providing me with opportunities to support and develop others.

What are the top three things about your branch area?

The first is easy. I was raised, educated and started my working life in Surrey.  It’s also the hub of Southern England and connected in many different ways.  Third is its urban/rural balance, something that I feel can help different business communities do and be better together.

If you could give one message to the Prime Minister, what would it be?  

My one message would be around increasing productivity through a society where everyone is encouraged, supported and able to contribute to the best of their ability and potential, regardless of identity, background or experience.  I say this as someone who didn’t have the greatest start in life.

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

In the next 12 months I’m looking forward to continued personal and professional growth.  At D7 Advisers this will involve expanding the board advisory offer and focussed collaboration with others.  As an IoD ambassador I’m really looking forward to open-minded professional discussion about the benefits of taking a more mature and integrated approach to equity, diversity and inclusion – not just across Surrey, but as part of the IoD national ambassador network.  Creating a future with care begins and ends with people.

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

I started out in business, working in the UK office of a large Dutch paper company whilst undertaking selection to enter the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.  Keen to learn, I rushed to failure more than once, so the advice I would give myself then is the advice I give myself today – which is it’s sometimes necessary to slow down before speeding up.

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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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