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.

“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

...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.

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

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

Coming Up in 2020

Wednesday 1 July, 08:30–10:30 (subject to change)

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.

Wednesday 22 July, 19:00–21:00 (subject to change)

Between BlackRock and a Hard Place

Chairs are now increasingly held to account for delivering the triple bottom line of people, profit and planet, as capital markets, consumers, and regulators hold enterprises accountable for their ESG performance. But how can you lead today’s organisation against tomorrow’s criteria?

Join us for a peer discussion focused on the question: How can Chairs better deliver all — and what trade-offs do they need to make to do so?

Wednesday 9 September, 08:30–10:30

Reimagining the Role of the Chair

If the board of the future is…

  • Global and virtual.
  • Diverse — in multiple ways.
  • Representative of all stakeholders.
  • Driven by real-time analytics.
  • Influenced by AI.

Then what do these changes mean for the role of the Chair? What skills and knowledge will you require? What initiatives should you be exploring today, and will you lead the way — or be in the way? 

Join us and a group of the UK’s leading governance thinkers to debate this brave new world and the Chair’s role in it.

Wednesday 24 September, 19:00–21:00

Your Grandchildren’s Inheritance

What will your grandchildren inherit? A thriving stock portfolio but an unenviable legacy, like Purdue Pharma’s Sackler family, or a fairer world with less income inequality and a healthier planet?

Join us to debate what the future measures of success for a Chair will be.

How will we measure the worth of a successful Chair and what numbers will you be able to share with your grandchildren to demonstrate you made a difference?


Wednesday 21 October, 19:00–21:00

The Demise of the Talented Narcissist: Hiring Tomorrow’s CEO Today

The most important job any Chair does is hire or fire the CEO. But leading CEO succession in a world of increasing scrutiny, and with a wider set of hidden stakeholders in the decision, is becoming more of a challenge. When does a ruthless focus on financial results become a long-term liability?

Join us to develop new perspectives on track-record and future potential for prospective.

Thank You For Your Interest

Thank you for your interest in The F1rst, we have paused our events programme for the time being and hope to be up and running as soon as it's safe. However we have launched a series of virtual panel sessions, for more information visit