As a number of our board members stepped down at the same time we had to make sure we replaced them well. Jonathan Jenkins, then Chief Executive, explains how we went about it.
It is sometimes hard to remember doing anything else but I have now been CEO of Social Investment Business for four years.
One of the most important lessons I have learnt in that time is the value of working closely with my board. A good board is a great mix of support and challenge, and I can say with certainty that our board certainly provides both.
However, change is afoot. As you may have seen, we recently announced several changes to our board. Many of our board members had been with us for a long time and their terms were all due to expire at the same time. We were faced with a challenge. How were we going to go about replacing them? What skills were we going to lose? And in what areas did we need to improve? As an exercise in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your organisation I can recommend it to anyone. We are more than aware of how important strong governance is.
A vast proportion of the organisations we work with who run into difficulty have problems with governance - be it a lack of succession planning, poor leadership or dysfunctional relationships. We were determined not to fall into that trap. Thankfully we were very lucky. We received applications of the highest quality for all of the positions on offer and have made appointments that really set out our ambitions for the future.
I can only describe our new Chair, Hazel Blears, as a force of nature. I am wildly already impressed with her drive, ambition and desire to make sure that the best charities and social enterprises can access the money they need.
As for effective challenge from the board, I think we’ve got that covered. If there is one area where I think we as an organisation have punched below our weight in recent years it is on impact measurement. Cards on the table, we haven’t done enough to measure our impact. I want this to change. This is why we have recruited Jeremy Nicholls and Jenny North to our board. Both are impact experts and will not let us ignore this vitally important area. We also needed to recognise the skills we were losing on our board and that included the Chair of our investment committee and our main ‘legal eagle’.
Therefore, we were delighted to recruit Jim Rice and Julie Currie. Jim is a former partner at Linklaters with a passion for social change. As a trustee of a number of small charities he understands the challenges they face. Meanwhile, Julie has worked in the banking industry for nearly 20 years, currently as Chief Investment Officer for the Lloyds Foundation.
Following our ground-breaking partnership with Social and Sustainable Capital, Big Society Capital and Santander we want to work on more ways to bring corporate investors into social investment and Julie is no stranger to that world. Each of the new board members replace some big characters who have vast amounts of experience.
I will be writing more about them over the next month so I can illustrate just how important they have been in helping us to make sure the right money has got to the right organisations. Today I am looking to the future though. I’m excited to start working with the new team and get more money flowing where it is needed most.
Jonathan Jenkins was Chief Executive of Social Investment Business from September 2011 - March 2017.