The Think Tank for Chairs

“The best boards are those that are open to learning from others.”

~ Mike Evans, Chair, M&G Prudential and Just Eat

Newly introduced in the 17th century, London’s coffeehouses were the meeting places where an eclectic group would debate the big ideas, giving life to the stock markets and insurance industry and spawning the forces that drove global trade. They were, in effect, the original Think Tanks of worldwide commerce.

 The First is located next to the site of London’s earliest coffeehouse, The Turk’s Head, and aims to recapture the spirit of the very first Think Tank for business leaders.
The Only Think Tank for Chairs

Change Is Afoot...

In just the past few months, the UK boardroom regulator warned companies for “paying lip service” to corporate governance, the world’s largest asset manager announced it will “vote against management and board directors” not addressing environmental sustainability, and ESG controversies were found to have wiped $500bn off value.  In a world where your shareholders are no longer your only stakeholders, the business of your business seems to be everybody's business. 

“The chair must put together a helpful group who can make their executive team aware of the wider environment and remind them of the mission of the company — and that they shouldn’t do any harm to the rest of the world.” ~ Sir John Egan, Former Chair of Severn Trent and Jaguar Cars



...And Chairs Need a Forum to Seize It

In the coming decade Chairs will be asked to lead transformative debates within their organisations and make crucial decisions about the role and purpose of business. Our view is that many of these debates should take place amongst peers before they take place in the boardroom. That’s what The First was created for - a forum for open and robust debate amongst peers. 

“What one group of shareholders may want and what’s in the best and long-term interests of the company won’t always align. But our job isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s up to the directors to grapple with dissonant voices.” ~ Ian Durant, Chair, Greggs and DFS

Coming Up in 2020

Wednesday 29th April


Give a Damn or Be Damned

In a troubled world where business is under increasing pressure to tackle the social and environmental challenges ahead, but where markets punish those not solely focused on the bottom line, who would be a Chair?

What do these mounting tensions mean to the role of the Chair, and how will boards have to evolve to thrive? How can you stay on the side of the angels?

Join your peers to debate these issues at The First’s first debate of this new decade.

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