Current chairwoman Wendy Dorey still has a couple of events until the end of her term and is determined to have an orderly handover with her successor. Mrs Dorey’s term of office was slightly unusual in that her predecessor, Stretch Kontelj, moved to Australia, so there was a role to fill, and as she was on the committee, she was asked to step up.
It is a role that she feels is ‘really about the art of the possible for Guernsey’.
‘Rather than looking at what things are wrong and being quite negative about what’s happening in Guernsey, I’ve tried to pull people towards opportunity,’ she said.
During her term, Mrs Dorey felt that the States and civil servants had taken on board points that she had made. She has also collaborated with a number of business groups on the island, including the Chamber of Commerce, Giba, and Women in Public Life, as well as working closely with the IoDs in Jersey and the Isle of Man.
‘We’re not looking at silos and empire building at all, quite the reverse,’ she said.
‘We want to make sure that we’re joining up all the dots, because the island has so many good things happening. But they’re not joined up yet.’
A highlight during her term of office has been the quality of speakers who have participated in IoD events, she said.
‘I think Guernsey really punches above its weight when it comes to attracting speakers to the island,’ she said.
One was the former finance minister of Ukraine, Natalie Jaresko, who spoke at the first mid-term meeting that Mrs Dorey presided over.
‘My aim has been to get an external perspective first, before we relate it to Guernsey, because I think it’s very easy to navel-gaze and stay within your bubble.’
She said that awareness of the IoD seemed very high on the island, with more chartered directors per capita in Guernsey than anywhere else in the world.
‘A key aim is to make sure that Guernsey remains competitive and has substance as an international finance centre, and having a pool of highly skilled directors is, I think, a really good step in that direction.’
To this end, more than 500 people had taken IoD certificate and diploma courses over the last 12 months. Building a pipeline of high calibre directors is not something that happens overnight, she said, and that while 80% of members locally are from the professional services sector, including law, accountancy, and financial services, 20% are made up from other sectors such as retail and tourism.
‘You don’t have to be within a particular sector to get value from joining,’ she said. ‘One of the key successes is around our membership offering, including our director-only development series.’
‘We’ve really fleshed out our student offering, such as the leadership shadowing scheme, and we delivered (in December) a Student Summit, attracting more than 100 students from the various sixth forms,’ she said. ‘We had some fantastic speakers who are in their 20s talk to them about their career journeys and opportunities both on and off island.’
Off the back of the IoD annual convention, a student advisory panel was born, with six students from the Grammar School, Elizabeth College and The Ladies’ College, who give input on events and are helping to curate the next Student Summit, which is designed by students for students. ‘It’s nice to get them to build it from the ground up – it resonates with them more strongly.
‘We’ve also had our Next Gen Forum launch which fills a gap between students and directors – that was a big, missing part of the puzzle.’
Mrs Dorey said that an aim of her term was that the IoD was seen as inclusive. ‘I think historically [the] IoD was seen as a group of older, mainly male, directors. But actually we’ve really increased the number of female members and the average age has gone down, which is fantastic.’
While the search is currently under way for Mrs Dorey’s successor, she recognises that she may need to extend her term slightly, with the rest of the committee likely ending up doing more in the interim.
The next business breakfast (on Friday 27 January) features an economic overview update led by economics sub-group head Richard Hemans. Mrs Dorey will also potentially run the mid-term event (March) as the incoming chair will have little time to prepare. The theme is artificial intelligence (AI) in relation to the opportunities it brings to Guernsey.
It will look at increasing productivity as well as debating whether the population crisis would be less significant if the lower-value jobs were replaced with AI.
‘It actually moves all the jobs up the value chain a bit more and makes them potentially more value and higher paid,’ she said.
On a personal note, she is taking on another non-executive director role as she builds up her NED portfolio and is considering the third sector as she is very keen to ‘give something back’ to the island – something that, without doubt, she has delivered during her term in office at the IoD.