Dean Godwin, is the Chief Executive Officer of Sanne Trust Company. He has been the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of Sanne Group with over 15 years’ experience in international financial services.
What changes would you make to UK boardrooms to make them more effective?
90% of the time, boards should be looking forward. In our board, there is a big focus on strategy and a big focus on talent. We want board members to move around the organisation, not just sit in the boardroom. We want them to engage with the executives outside of the boardroom because that helps them really understand the business. The board mentors people in the organisation now.
How do you structure a board meeting to make it 90% forward looking?
The way you present the information is important. You have your principal templates, but you have to tailor them so the emphasis is to look forward. We don’t just look at the last quarter’s numbers anymore, we look at the next three quarters’ forecast, which is way more important than the Q1 numbers; there’s nothing you can do about those.
How should the role of Company Secretary evolve to better support the board?
I think the role can be undervalued. It’s not just about taking the minutes. The Company Secretary is one of the few people to have access to everybody in the organisation.
A good Chairman can use the Company Secretary to access the wider business — but that takes a certain profile. You want that rounded character, who has the legal knowledge but who is the right person to interact with the business easily.
What issues do you think boards need a wake-up call on?
Diversity is a big focus at the moment and can come in many guises. But technology is going to play a much bigger part in most industries, so I think having different skills in the boardroom is important and we need more Chief Information Officers on boards.
What’s your proudest achievement or the smartest business decision you’ve made?
I think it was listing the business. We were private equity owned, but we are a people business; the people are the assets really. I think listing was the best option for our people and we were the first business in our industry to list.
It was the right thing for our clients, it was the right thing for the longevity of the business and it has made us a better business.
What book is on your bedside table?
Carlo Ancelotti’s autobiography — Quiet Leadership: Winning Hearts, Minds and Matches. I love football and that leadership style is how I like to run the business; under the radar as much as I can keep myself, but winning hearts and minds.
What’s your golden rule?
Going into the boardroom with no surprises. I would never want to spring anything on my Chairman, and that works both ways.