This is my first blog ever, an exciting new adventure for me! I have written comments on other people’s articles and have started various discussions on LinkedIn. This is the next stage of my development on social media!
I attended my first ever "Youpreneur" Conference in London in November 2018, an annual conference which is run and championed by a guy called Chris Ducker and is aimed at entrepreneurs. I was told, at this conference, that the best way to market your business was to market yourself and to be honest about yourself. I have thought about this since the conference and realised that there is a really good example of a person who does just this, using his name and profile to promote all his business interests - Richard Branson. Richard writes a lot of blogs and a lot of people follow him.
I intend to write a series of blogs. I have so much to talk about! I do hope you will follow me and give your views and comments on what I write.
So, for my first blog, let me introduce myself properly.
I am qualified as a Chartered Secretary (FCIS). To qualify, I studied all the legal subjects around business (contract law, company law, applying company law through company secretarial practice, law of meetings, HR law, etc), I took various accountancy exams, studied HR, tax and so on. I was told that my professional qualification was Masters Degree level. I therefore decided against doing an MBA a few years later as it would only have been repeating what I had already studied.
I am also a Fellow of the Association of International Accountants (FAIA), the body through which I regulate my business. I run a practice known as Venetia Carpenter & Associates and, like all professional firms, I have to comply with AML procedures, have PI cover, do so many hours of CPD each year and so on. The AIA generally guides and supports me as one of its members in Practice.
Having initially learnt my craft within large listed insurance groups and, finally, at KPMG in what was then its Company Secretarial Department, I have, for over thirty years, been running my own practice offering legal, company secretarial and corporate governance services and advice to large listed groups, smaller but fast growing entrepreneurial companies, and the charity and not-for-profit sector. I have mentored Chief Executives and Chairs. I have advised, supported and audited Boards. I have, in particular, reviewed and put in place effective governance structures.
Through my work, I have been responsible for HR, property matters, and insurance and have worked as Head of Legal. I have a strong handle on legal and, like many, particularly the more experienced, Chartered Secretaries, can be as effective a Head of Legal as any lawyer. In fact, Chartered Secretary training teaches you to, perhaps at times, be more pragmatic than a lawyer.
I have worked in many different business sectors - retail, wholesale, financial, entertainment sector, sports sector, corporate entertainment, engineering, tea production and so on. It has been a crazy ride up to now - very enjoyable - and it has also meant that I have contacts and know people in such a variety of businesses!
Having started my career in the insurance sector when employed, and then, since being self-employed, always having at least one company client in the financial sector, I am well versed and used to the strict regulatory requirements of the financial sector generally. I consider this to be a good training ground. You then learn to apply some of the rules from the financial sector into other businesses for better governance and better financial control.
I have also been Company Secretary of a number of the larger charities over the years. It is interesting to compare the Board of, say, a bank, to that of a charity. The bank's main focus is to make money and is very purely commercially driven. The charity's focus is to give benefits to its chosen recipients. However, it still has to be run on a commercial basis to be able to provide those benefits. So, although the initial focus may be different, the final result is still the same?
I have got to know some amazing people and worked with some interesting company boards. I have seen both good and bad behaviour in the board room. It has shocked me at just how political behaviour can be in some board rooms.
In an effort to better understand how people relate to each other and to help to solve disputes on boards and between businesses and individuals through mediation, along with another Chartered Secretary colleague, I attended a CEDR (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) course. I am therefore also a CEDR Accredited Mediator. This training has certainly helped in my dealings with people. As a result, I do occasional mediations as well - an interesting and satisfying role when you get it right.
I find people's behaviour and what drives them absolutely fascinating. Behaviour, good or bad, can help to make or break a business. I believe that, to be both a good Chair and a good Company Secretary (and I have been both at different times), you need to be aware of and have an insight into what drives people, to help them to contribute effectively to a board and to make a board effective.
I am currently on the Council, that is the Board, of the Association of International Accountants. I am also on the Advisory Board of on-line pharmacy, RXLive Limited.
RXLive is the latest tech company with which I have been involved, having initially been the Company Secretary of the fintech company, RateSetter, and then moving onto Mettrr where I was Head of Legal as well as its Company Secretary for two years.
The tech sector is exciting with young people constantly driving new ideas. I love being involved in this sector as I have the opportunity to work with young and brilliant people and to bring my experience to their organisations to "help steady the boat" as they grow, often at a fast pace.
I have a real enthusiasm for many things in the business world. One of them is Agile business, something being promoted and supported by the Agile Business Consortium. In today's market place, the more agile a business is, the better its chances of survival and of growth.
Alongside my normal work, in recent years, I have also taken up other part-time opportunities. I do a bit of Business Development for Treethorpe Limited, a well run and well regulated specialist asset reunification company. In the last two years, I have also joined Chesham Amalgamations as a Merger Broker.
I am very proud to be a professionally qualified person with the ability and opportunity to guide businesses, and business people, both large and small. Every day, I continue to meet new people and learn new things. My qualifications and experience in the business community have made me what I am today.
We were advised, at the Youpreneur conference that, for people to remember you and warm to you, you had to show yourself, be yourself. So, what do I say here? There are two men in my personal life, my husband and our Spaniel! At the moment, my husband is not sure if I love him or the dog more - a tough call!
Enough of me. Look out for my next blog which will be about Board Room relationships.