Board Advisory Paternship

The ‘Chairing in Practice’  programme is unique in its motivation, style and the scale of its impact in helping those preparing to and in taking on a first chairing role.

Over 40%+of the alumni are now chairing FTSE, PE, Public Sector and/or leading charitable organisations.  Others are chairing board committees and acting as SIDs, collectively strengthening their boards and the pool of prospective candidates for chairing roles.

The programme was born out of the financial crash, from which it was clear that the greatest losses were incurred by the least well chaired organisations. Our focus is on the very practical aspects of choosing a first role, determining what are the right (and wrong) roles/organisations for one, then on the practical craft of actually leading a board through all the relationships and internal and external constraints involved. 

We facilitate the programme with the intellectual capital provided pro bono by a tireless faculty of seasoned Chairpeople. Our shared motivation in doing so is to support the individuals taking on new roles and through them, the interests of their stakeholders.

In the spirit within which they received value from the programme, the alumni are now also actively supporting each other as well as current participants as each progresses through the first years of leading from the Chair. 

To find out more, please contact Kate Donaghy on or 07767 686098.

  • Leadership
  • Outline
  • Contributing Chairs and Speakers
  • Calendar 2020
  • The Sessions


* Charles Berry
Chair, Centrica Plc, Weir Plc
Charles Berry Charles Berry chairs Centrica PLC (international energy supply and services Company) and The Weir Group PLC (international engineering – serving mining, oil & gas and power markets. He is also a member of the Steering Group of the Hampton Alexander review, which aims to improve the representation of women on FTSE 350 Boards and at executive levels. He is also a founding Advisor to the Board Advisory Partnership Ltd. Prior to building his non-executive career, from 2005 Charles was an Executive Director of Scottish Power Plc, a Director of Norwest Holst (a subsidiary of Compagnie Générale des Eaux) and held management positions within subsidiaries of Pilkington Plc. Formerly Charles chaired Senior Plc (international engineering – serving aerospace and land vehicle markets), Drax Group Plc (UK power generation), Eaga Plc (green support services) and Thus Group Plc (telecoms and internet). He has also served as a Non-Executive Director of two investment trusts, Impax Environmental Markets PLC and Securities Trust of Scotland Plc. In the not-for-profit field, Charles chaired the Brick by Brick Capital Appeal which raised £21m for the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow. Charles holds a BSc (First Class Hons) in Engineering from the University of Glasgow and an MSc in Management from MIT. In July 2015, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering from the University of Glasgow, and was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering from Glasgow Caledonian University in November 2016.
* Dame Alison Carnwath
NED, BP Plc, Zurich Insurance Grp SA, BASF SE., Paccar Inc.
Dame Alison CarnwathDame Alison Carnwath practiced as a chartered accountant before going on to hold a number of senior financial advisory roles with Schroder Wagg & Co and the Phoenix Partnership. Dame Alison has worked as a senior advisor at Evercore Partners (previously Lexicon) since 2005, she is also chair of strategic advisory board at Livingbridge LLP, non-executive director of BP Plc and Broadwell Capital Limited, independent director of PACCAR Inc and a non-executive director and chair of the audit committee of both Zurich Insurance Company Ltd and BASF SE. Previous roles include chairmanship of Land Securities Group plc as well as non-executive directorships of Barclays plc and Man Group plc. Dame Alison has also served on the boards of Friends Provident plc, Welsh Water, Gallaher Group, Vitec Group plc and MFGlobal Inc. Dame Alison is a chartered accountant, holds a graduate degree, has two honorary degrees and in 2014 was appointed to the order of Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE).
* David Tyler
Chairman, Hammerson Plc, Domestic and General Holdings, The Hampstead Theatre
David TylerDavid was appointed Chair of Hammerson Plc in May 2013, Domestic & General Group Plc in September 2015 and The Hampstead Theatre in May 2013. He is a founding Advisor to The Board Advisory Partnership. In the past, David has been Chair of J.Sainsbury plc, 3i Quoted Private Equity plc and Logica plc, and a Non-Executive Director at Burberry plc, Experian plc and Reckitt Benckiser Group plc. David’s executive career from 1974 to 2006 was spent in financial and general management in Unilever, NatWest, Christie’s and GUS. He has an MA in Economics from Cambridge University, and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and a Member of the Association of Corporate Treasurers.
* Robert S Webb QC
Chairman, Darktrace Ltd., Luminance Ltd.
Robert WebbRobert Webb is Chair, Darktrace Limited and Luminance as well as a Senior Advisor at Brunswick LLP. He is a Door Tenant of Brick Court Chambers. Until 1998, Robert was a practicing Barrister, a Recorder and Head of Chambers at 5 Bell Yard, London. His field of practice was commercial law, aviation law and mass disaster litigation. From 1998 to 2009 he was General Counsel, British Airways. Robert is also a past Chairman of BBC Worldwide and of Autonomy plc, a former Senior Independent Director of the London Stock Exchange and a former Director of Argent Ltd and of Air Mauritius. He was General Counsel of Rolls-Royce Plc 2012-2016. He continues to be a Bencher of the Inner Temple, a former Trustee of Comic Relief and a former Fellow of UNICEF. Married, with two adult sons, Robert lives in London and Scotland.
* Orna NiChionna
SID, Saga plc; Chair, RemCo, Burberry Plc
Orna NiChionna Orna is the Senior Independent Director at both Saga plc and Royal Mail plc and chairs the Remuneration Committees of Royal Mail and Burberry plc. Orna also is Chair of Client Service at consulting firm Eden McCallum. She is Deputy Chair of the National Trust and is a Trustee of Sir John Soane’s Museum. She holds a B.E. (Electronic Engineering) from University College Dublin, an M.Eng.Sc. (Microelectronics) from University College Cork and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She joined McKinsey and company in 1983 and became the first female partners in its UK office in 1990. The key focus of her client service was retailing/consumer businesses and she co-led McKinsey’s European Retail Practice for many years until she left McKinsey in 2001.


This is a programme about the very practical aspects of chairing. It has been devised for those taking on new positions of board leadership.

The concept is that a faculty of experienced Chairs, SIDs and Committee Chairs share their experience with a group of participating board members who have just, or are likely to take on a first board leadership role in the near future. The sessions take place over working breakfasts and, less often, dinners.

The aim is to cross-pollinate learning across sectors and help flatten the learning curve involved in one’s first Chairing, SID or Committee Chair role.

Historically, one could only learn from observing the outcomes brought about by the styles and techniques of the Chairs on whose boards one sat. This is generally a low number. The programme is structured so that, diaries permitting, in a small group, one can engage with between 20-35 different Chairs in discussing the practicalities of the role. Good Chairmen and women evolve their own system and continue to learn from others.

The programme schedule is detailed overleaf. From that you will see that there is an outline ‘syllabus’, in which the role is analysed and discussed through the lens of a Chair’s key relationships. Sessions are led by either 2 Chairs or 1 Chair plus a specialist contributor who lead off with their experience before the majority of the session is spent in a single conversation. Effort is made to combine speakers with differing backgrounds and approaches. We keep the group small, c10 in the room in any session, and keep our focus on the very practical tools and techniques of chairing.

The programme operates with the guidance of an Advisory Group made up of Dame Alison Carnwath, Charles Berry, Orna NiChionna, David Tyler and Robert Webb QC. The Faculty of Contributors appears later in this Guide.

To participate:

Overall the group is run on an expenses-only basis with the faculty contributing their time without fee. There is a fee payable on joining which covers administration and catering. In subsequent years, many participants continue to join sessions for which a per session fee is payable. Now in its 5th year, it is clear that a powerful and engaged group of board leaders is evolving and becoming an active resource to each other.

Contributing Chairs and Speakers

Liz Airey
Jupiter Fund Management Plc; Chair, Standard Smaller
Companies Trust Plc; Rolls Royce Pension Fund.

John Allan CBE
Tesco Plc, Barratt Developments Plc, President, CBI

Adele Anderson
easyJet Plc, Intu Properties Plc, Spire Healthcare Plc

Vindi Banga
CD+R, Marie Curie, SID GSK Plc

John Barton
easyJet, Luceco, Mathieson & Co, SSP Group

Celia Baxter
RemCo Chair, Senior Plc, Bekaert SA, NHI Magnasita NV

Sir Brian Bender
London Metal Exchange, UK Water

Charles Berry
Centrica Plc, Weir Group Plc

Sir Win Bischoff
JP Morgan Securities, McGraw Hill Inc

Charlotte Boyle
Chair, RemCo, Capital&Counties Plc

Ruth Cairnie
Chair, Babcock Plc; SID, Assoc. British Foods Plc

Dame Alison Carnwath
NED, BP Plc, Zurich Insurance Grp SA, BASF SE., Paccar Inc.

Stuart Chambers
Anglo-American Plc, Travis Perkins Plc

John Coghlan
Chair, Audit+Risk, Severn Trent, Clarion Housing

Philip Cox CBE
Drax Plc

Jonathan Dawson
River and Mercantile Plc, SID, National Grid Plc

Andrew Duff
Severn Trent Plc, Elementis Plc

Alan Ferguson
SID & Chair Audit, Johnson Matthey Plc, Croda Int’l Plc,
Marshall Motors Holding plc, NED AngloGoldAshanti

John Fingleton
Fingleton, Risk Audit & Compliance, Coles

Sir Peter Gershon, CBE FREng Hon CIPS
National Grid Plc

Richard Gillingwater CBE
Janus Henderson Group Plc, SSE Plc

Noel Harwerth
Chair, GE Capital UK Ltd., Export Credit Guarantee; SID, Sirius Minerals Plc and Charter Court Plc

Conor Kehoe
Snr Partner, McKinsey & Co.

Patrick Kennedy
Chair, Bank of Ireland Group Plc, CarTrawler

Matthew Lester
Chair, Kier Plc, Audit Chair,Capita Plc, NED, Man Group Plc

Andy Martin
Chair, Hays Plc; Audit Chair, The John Lewis Partnership, Chair, Finance Committee, easyJet Plc: NED. Capita Plc

Orna NiChionna
SID, Saga plc; Chair, RemCo, Burberry Plc

Andrew Ninian
Corporate Governance and Engagement Director, 
The Investment Association

Tim Score
Chair, British Land Plc, Chair Audit, Pearson Plc

Robert Sharrock
YSC Ltd.

Robert Swannell CBE

David Tyler
Chairman, Hammerson Plc, Domestic & General, Hampstead Theatre

Robert S Webb Q.C.
Darktrace, Luminance Ltd.

Harlan Zimmerman
Cevian Capital Senior Partner

Calendar 2020

Spring Dates

23rd March Lunch Making the transition into Chairing Andrew Duff, Severn Trent Plc, Elementis Plc
  Afternoon The Chair-CEO Relationship David Tyler, Chairman, Hammerson Plc, Domestic & General, Hampstead Theatre
  Afternoon The roles of the SID and Chair of RemCo Orna NiChionna, SID, Saga plc; Chair, RemCo, Burberry Plc
Rob Webb, Darktrace, Luminance Ltd.
  Dinner Reflections on the role of the Chair Ian Davis, chair, Rolls-Royce plc; NED, Johnson & Johnson, BP plc, Majid Al Futtaim Holdings. Non-executive board member, UK Cabinet Office, Teach for All. 
21st April Dinner Taking on a New Board  Charles Berry, Centrica Plc, Weir Group Plc
Liz Airey, Jupiter Fund Management Plc; Chair, Standard Smaller Companies Trust Plc; Rolls Royce Pension Fund.
18th May Dinner External Relationships Robert Swannell, UKGI
John Fingleton, Fingleton, Risk Audit & Compliance, Coles
26th May Dinner CEO Succession Dame Alison Carnwath, Senior Advisor, Evercore; NED, BP Plc, Zurich Insurance Grp SA, BASF SE., Paccar Inc.
10th June Dinner The Board and Strategy Ruth Cairnie, Chair, Babcock Plc; SID, Assoc. British Foods Plc

Autumn Dates

28th September Dinner Cyber Dr Richard Horne, Partner, Cyber Security, PwC
12th October Dinner Chairing in Adversity John Allan, Tesco Plc, Barratt Developments Plc, President, CBI
Tim Score, Chair, British Land Plc, Chair Audit, Pearson Plc
9th November Dinner Chairing in multiple ownership structures Patrick Kennedy, Chair, Bank of Ireland Group Plc, CarTrawler
Liam Fitzgerald, Operating Advisor, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R)


23rd March
Half day and dinner
12:45-21:30  Clarke’s, 124, Kensington Church Street, W8 4BH
Dinners 18.30 - 21.15   Clarke’s, 124, Kensington Church Street, W8 4BH

To discuss any aspect of the series, please contact Kate Donaghy on or Jo Dixon on 020 7129 1133 or


The Sessions

With an 18.30 start, keeping the conversation focused, we conclude at 21.15.  On each evening, the speaker(s)  join 6 -8 Participants.  They lead off by sharing their reflections and direct experience on the topic under discussion - both the principles underpinning their approach,the lessons that they have drawn and the tactics that they have developed over time.  After about 30 minutes, the conversation becomes a single open discussion.  The Chatham House rule has to be rigidly observed.

To talk to us about joining the series, please contact Kate Donaghy on or Jo Dixon on 020 7129 1133 or

To talk to us about joining the series, call Kate Donaghy or Jo Dixon on 020 7129 1133 or email
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