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Martin Garner

Success story to provide an in-depth view on the journey to the Chartered Director qualification and how the IoD programme has supported these outstanding individuals in their professional development.


With global experience spanning four continents, Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia, Martin has successfully helped develop businesses for blue chip organizations such as Xerox, Rexam, Computershare and Capita.


Your current role

Martin is currently based in Singapore where he is owner and director of Sherwood GM Pte Ltd, a governance, risk and compliance (grc) advisory and consultancy business.

Outside the boardroom, Martin is actively involved as a sports volunteer, being involved in a wide range of events such as Formula 1, The Youth Olympic Games, and the Singapore Open Golf.

Your journey pre-Chartered Director

My journey started in 1976, when I left School at 16 to start an engineering apprenticeship with a large steel manufacturing company in Sheffield. After successfully qualifying as a mechanical engineer, I eventually moved out of the steel industry and into the manufacturing sector where I progressed into the management and senior executive director level. During this time I held positions in both an operational and technical capacity.

Significant change occurred in the late 80’s, when the large multi-national company I was working with at the time, decided to expand parts of its manufacturing operations and set-up a manufacturing plant in South East Asia. This led to my spending extended tours of duty in Singapore and Indonesia from the initial start-up and development in 1989, through to my eventually being permanently based in South East Asia from around 1995.

Responsible for both the successful development and growth of the Asian and European operations, I continued to build up the business until it was sold in 1998. After returning to the UK in 1998, I then joined a major global financial services and communications group to assist them with their introduction and development into the UK market place where I became the director and general manager (EMEA) of their communications and documentation division. Appointed to the board, I decided that the IoD Chartered Director Programme offered the ideal opportunity for me to help develop my competency and knowledge in order to be an effective leader and board member.

In 2004, I was appointed to my first non- executive directorship, of which I have no doubt was helped by the work I had done in conjunction with the Chartered Director Programme.

How has the Chartered Director programme supported your journey?

I believe many people may have experienced that first appointment to the board like I did, which was based on their contribution, experience and success in their prior or current work and which was duly recognised by their appointment. However as can often be the case, especially for first-time board members, they have not necessarily had any formal training on being a board member – and are left to their ‘own devices’ in order to develop the necessary skills required.

I strongly believe in the vital importance of formal training and development for both new board appointees and young developing directors, as well of the benefits of continual professional development for all directors.

For me the Chartered Director Programme helped equip me with the necessary tools, knowledge and guidance that I required to support the experience I already had and to assist me to develop my skills and ultimately my effective level of contribution to the board.

Completing Chartered Director helped me to understand the importance of building a solid foundation for the success of both myself and the organisation. Looking at things from the strategic level and ensuring that good practice in corporate governance is embedded in all the actions, processes and procedures I undertake.

Increasingly the role of a director, whether it is in the capacity of an executive, non-executive or independent director is becoming ever more complicated and challenging. There are numerous requirements, regulations, codes of practice, guidelines etc. that are constantly being developed or updated.

The days of just turning up, sitting around the boardroom table and making a few pertinent interjections to the proceedings are long-gone – today’s effective director has a real professional commitment where the failure to meet certain criteria or standards potentially has serious consequences for the organisation or the individual director.

Becoming a Chartered Director, certainly helped me to understand the commitment and skills required to become an effective director, it has provided me with the tools and support I have needed to remain up-to-date and aware of current thinking, processes and the procedure that all directors should know.

Important Attributes for a Director

A director must be a strong advocate of good corporate governance practices and set the best example in all that they do. They must be honest and fair minded in their business conduct, possess strong leadership qualities and not be afraid to challenge and ask questions in order to ascertain the truth and ensure proper due diligence. Actively developing and seeking diversity and openness in the decision making process and structures in which they develop.

Your Involvement with IoD Regional Activities

Outside of developing my mainstay business activities in the region, I am also the IoD Chartered Director Regional Ambassador for Singapore.

In this capacity I endeavour to provide support and act as a focal point for local or regionally based IoD members or for any IoD members seeking information or guidance on matters pertaining to Singapore or the wider South-East Asia region.

In this capacity I endeavour to provide support and act as a focal point for local or regionally based IoD members or for any IoD members seeking information or guidance on matters pertaining to Singapore or the wider South-East Asia region.

I am also active in working to develop relationships with the IoD and regional bodies such as the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID), Securities Investors Association Singapore (SIAS) and the Asian Corporate Governance Association (ACGA).

South-East Asia is a dynamic and important globally linked economic region, which holds much opportunity for organisations based in the UK, Europe and North America.

Good corporate governance and compliance regimes are essential to provide the confidence and infrastructure that companies investing or developing in this region require.

Much has been done to improve corporate governance in the region and more is still required on an on-going basis – director education and professional development will play a key role in raising standards moving forward.

The areas of sustainability and board diversity are much in focus in South-East Asia at the present time. During the last two years I have been increasingly raising my level of exposure and experience to developments in these areas. In 2015, my organization will be launching a new software product that will help businesses assess their capability and compliance with sustainability requirements.

As of writing, there are currently three Chartered Directors based in Singapore, two of whom are local Singaporeans. IoD members can also be found in other countries around the region.

How can the IoD contribute to the economy, better boards and society?

A director’s role is very sophisticated and challenging and not something that can be taken lightly. When appointed as a director there is now a vast amount of responsibility that comes with it.

The IoD provides essential support for a director, provides guidance and leadership on matters affecting the individual responsibilities of the director, the business environment, economic matters, infrastructure, legal aspects and so on. Through its range of publications, services and training courses the IoD provides its members with a vast array of benefits that can aid the director in carrying out their duties and responsibilities successfully.

Some of the foremost aspects of benefit to a director are the training and on-going development programmes run by the Institute. In my opinion these undoubtedly help to raise the standard of directors and provide strong impetus to the development of successful businesses and ultimately the growth of the economy.