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Paul Fox

The case study below provides an in-depth view on the journey to the Chartered Director qualification and how the IoD programme has supported Paul Fox in his professional development.

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A Chartered Director since 2012, Paul is managing director of Merryhill Envirotec Ltd, a specialist asbestos removal contractor based near Southampton that operates across the defence, health, education, public and major construction sectors.

Paul is also a member of the IoD Dorset Committee and was awarded South West Director of the Year for Corporate Responsibility in 2013.

Before becoming a director

I was inspired by my father, who ran two businesses himself, my mother, who grafted for 25 years for a local authority for little reward, and by my wife who, when I met her in my late 20’s, was working a full time job, plus 24 hours of nursing at weekends to make ends meet.

Your current role

The company had a watershed moment in 2008 when they created a proper board, and I became the first non-family member in 30 years to become a director. Three months after joining the board, I had to make 7 people redundant as the banks fell and construction imploded, somewhat of a baptism of fire and a humbling experience. I organised refinancing, and we weathered the storm, changed the way we operated and grew gently through the recession to record our best ever year in 2014.

How IoD qualifications have supported your journey to Chartered Director

When I first became a director in 2008, I knew that I needed not only to perform my operational duties, but to learn exactly what being a director was all about, I wanted to become a “professional director”. The qualifications gave me a thorough understanding of a director’s duties and were a phenomenal learning curve which gave me great confidence in making decisions that affected my day to day role.

Reaching CDir status in 2012 was a great achievement, and has since then enhanced, highlighted and exemplified my role as MD. Clients and other stakeholders are greatly reassured by CDir that we are a highly compliant, well governed business that analyses risk and strategic opportunity, which gives them confidence in us in the long term. The IoD programme has been instrumental in making me the successful director I am today.

Key attributes for a director

For me, the most important attributes and values for a director are closely aligned to the IoD programme, understanding in great depth about good corporate governance and why it matters, being able to articulate clear vision and values and understand why that is important, being able to understand what leadership is about, and to be able to assess risk and opportunity strategically.

The importance of CPD

My CPD is critically important to me. The day I believe I have nothing to learn in business then I should be retiring, because it is incumbent on me as a leader to continue developing, learning and stretching myself to be the best director I can be, for myself, my staff, my family and my stakeholders.

Your involvement with IoD regional activities

As a member of the IoD Dorset Committee, I have a great passion for supporting businesses and business people within my home county. IoD events and activities give me the opportunity to meet people with vast experiences. My view is that directors must escape the confines of their day-today demands, and engage with members across different sectors, in order to listen and learn. Through these activities, I understand now that whatever sector you are in, as directors we really do come into the office on a Monday morning facing similar issues and I value highly when an IoD engagement leads to me learning something I can bring into my own business for the better.

As well as being a director…

I enjoy giving something back after I have been lucky enough to have carved a successful career after a rocky start. I undertake quite a lot of voluntary business activities in Dorset and derive a lot of pleasure from this. I am a Dorset Business Mentor supporting SMEs, I have been involved with the Young Enterprise charity, and I also mentor SMEs across the South in bringing sustainability best practice into their organisations. I have recently been a guest lecturer at Bournemouth University Business School in and engaged as an assessor on their MBA programme.

To the future

I would like to see three things primarily.

Firstly, let’s be using these supposed good business brains of ours to get a grip on the million youngsters who are disenfranchised, let’s try a lot harder to give them opportunity and hope. UK Plc is shooting itself in the foot if not. Who are going to be our leaders, teachers, engineers, and builders of the future if we do not do more now? It is nothing to do with politics, let us all crack on and help improve prospects.

Secondly, basic director training for all; In my world of construction, you cannot operate even the simplest piece of equipment without some form of learning, and being able to demonstrate some basic competency. Yet in this country, you can be a director of a business with no absolutely no learning and no demonstration of basic competency, makes no sense at all to me.

Lastly, business education in schools; we simply do not do enough to educate youngsters about business and finance (both business and personal) from an earlier age. Let’s do something about that.