Director of the Year Awards 2018 – Jeremy Brettell CDir, Non-executive director

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Jeremy Brettell - Director of the Year Awards

Every day over the Christmas period, we’ll speak to winners from the recent IoD Director of the Year Awards. Today it’s Jeremy Brettell CDir – Non-executive director, Airdrie Savings Bank, Anderson Strathern Asset Management, Guarantee Protection Insurance, Transact and Wesleyan Bank

‘Act fairly, honestly and consistently’

As chairman of Airdrie Savings Bank, Brettell oversaw the closure of the business last year – a move made under intense political and regulatory scrutiny. The board’s decisions throughout this sensitive process, along with its explanations, drew praise from many quarters.

Which leaders do you most admire? “James Dyson, for being an innovator who promotes the UK globally. Jim McColl of Clyde Blowers Capital, for his passion for saving historic businesses. And Alistair Darling, not because I align with his politics, but because he really stepped up when our financial system needed saving.”

What inspires you most in business? “The long term success of ethical and sustainable businesses that do the right thing for their customers, and equally the demise of those businesses built on unsustainable business models and practices.”

What’s the key to great leadership? “Build trust; act fairly, honestly and consistently; provide support; and create a common vision. Then challenge and drive your team to exceed its expectations.”

The best advice you’ve ever had? “Seek first to understand before seeking to be understood. I learnt this from a mentor of mine, the late Brian Prytz, quite a few years ago. It applies in so many situations.”

Your own advice for navigating turbulent times? “It’s unlikely that any one person knows the answer, let alone the right question to ask, so seek out mentors, peers and non-execs to bounce ideas off.”

How do you ensure good governance at a company as it grows? “It’s vital to define and put in place the right governance structure and process at the outset, and then adhere to it. Review it on a regular basis, perhaps with external input, and then adapt and enhance it as circumstances and your scale change.”

The best business book you have read? Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the men who blew up the British economy” by Iain Martin. And also “Hubris – How HBOS wrecked the best bank in Britain” by Ray Perman. There are several books that examine some of the biggest Bank failures in recent history and, whilst individuals have been singled out, ultimately the lesson is – it is a failure of the board and good governance that enabled the set of circumstances to prevail that let these disasters happen.”

Entries are now open for the 2019 IoD Director of the Year Awards – click here for more info and to nominate

Click here for more winners’ interviews

Click here for more information on the IoD Chartered Director qualification

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Director magazine

Director magazine

Director is the magazine for business leaders. Free to IoD members and available to purchase through subscription, each edition is full of insightful interviews with entrepreneurs and company directors.

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