David Grinham, CDir, FIoD recently stepped down as vice president and general manager of US-based multinational Prometric and has joined Berkshire-based outplacement and HR service specialists Connor as company chairman.
Why did you decide to become a member of the IoD?
“The Institute of Directors is a long-standing, prestigious organisation and anyone who is a director, certainly in the SME environment in the UK, should become a member. The benefits are innumerable, from the courses run to the facilities on offer. Before I was based in the City of London I used the Pall Mall premises for business meetings, and I still do.”
Why do you think business leaders should look at the IoD?
“The IoD is independent from your day-to-day business. It is constantly striving for best practice in corporate governance and seeking to influence industry and government positively on behalf of the businesses it represents. It can also bring together the best practice contained within the membership itself and cross-fertilise that. That’s a huge benefit.”
How did the Chartered Director qualification help you?
“The Chartered Director programme helped me in my current role because it has reinforced to me how, when you are in a board meeting, you’re wearing a different hat from your day-to-day operational hat. It brings a certain rigour and discipline to the boardroom.”
Is general knowledge enough for the boardroom or is a qualification required?
“The Chartered Director programme is the gold standard in terms of understanding the theory and practice of good, proper boardroom behaviour.
“I think a qualification of this type is essential. There are not enough chartered directors. This programme should be much larger; it should be international, and be embraced by all leading public companies as well as some SMEs.”
What were the time implications of doing the programme?
“The courses are fairly short, a few days at most. You’re sitting the course with around 20 peers and you learn a lot from the interaction, perhaps as much as from the theory.
“Having to attend the course helps, because it forces you into preparing, studying, participating, remembering, and then getting into a position to recall when you’re tested. It should be career changing.”
Have you made any long-term connections as a result?
“I’ve been an IoD member for over 20 years and I was delighted to be invited to become a fellow. Active membership of organisations such as the IoD is the cornerstone of how you connect with likeminded people in the different professional environment.”
You are also a fellow of the IoD. Did you find that beneficial?
“Yes, a number. In fact, one contact I made was the owner of an SME in a commercial real estate consultancy, who invited me to become chairman of his board, a role that I took on for several years.”
What are the lessons learned as you progressed?
“Life is a continual learning process. I took my last examination just four months ago. I’m a great believer in lifelong learning and that’s why for the last 10 years I have been working in education.”
What is your advice for new directors?
“New directors need the opportunity to learn the theory, learn how the directorial role differs from day-to-day management, and they need mentoring. I would have appreciated having a mentor early on. Now I mentor five inexperienced, but very capable younger directors. That’s rewarding.”