I have recently had cause to reflect on the “power of the network.”  This is something I often hear people make reference to but I wonder if they really value it.  I do, I have built a career out of developing an incredibly powerful network and remain proud and always a little amazed that I am able to access such high quality, interesting, successful and personable people so readily.

As a business, one of our ambitions is to be serious contributors in terms of thought leadership, consequently we often speak at or organise industry leading events.  To make these events truly great we rely on our network to provide insight.  This was demonstrated recently at an FD event we led alongside Real FD.

Knowing that the audience (of Finance Directors) would not wish to hear only from other FDs we were lucky enough to persuade both Gillian Wilmot and Graham Coxell, seasoned, successful Chairmen of PE –backed and privately owned growing businesses, to be interviewed.  The feedback from those in attendance was superb.

To give some context to this: Graham was up first, discussing his early career which began in the RAF before a move into financial services.  As Chief Executive of Marlborough Stirling he oversaw turnover growth of £17m to £120m and a successful IPO in 2001.  He now balances a portfolio of roles – including being Chairman of Rowan Dartington, a business with a 20 year history.  As Chairman, Graham has helped focus the business on an ambitious future.  Rowan Dartington continues to expand and improve its business to provide clients with an exceptional service helping to deliver its aim of becoming one of the most successful regional full service stockbroking firms.

Gillian’s interview was also very interesting – so refreshing to hear from a woman’s perspective. Her recent career includes Non Executive Director at Nisa Retail (for which she won a NED of the Year Award in 2014) and Elexon.  She also runs a Board Mentoring business and is a founding adviser to Bubbles Online.  This followed on from a hugely successful executive career with The Royal Mail, Littlewoods, Next and Sears.

It was wonderful to see and hear a couple of our Chairmen in action and reminded me how humbling it is to look across the network we have built and admire the quality of people within that network and their amazing business achievements.