Our MD Mick O’Connor takes on a new role with the Institute of Directors

In March this year, HAELO MD and Founder Mick O’Connor was appointed the Institute of Directors Chartered Director Ambassador for Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) was founded in 1903 and three years later awarded a Royal Charter to support, represent, and set standards for business leaders nationwide. It is the UK’s largest membership organisation for business leaders, providing informative events, professional development courses for self-improvement, networking, and expert advice.

We caught up with Mick to find out more about the role, and how this aligns with the work of HAELO.

Congratulations on your new role Mick! Can you tell us a bit more about what this involves?

IoD Ambassadors enable greater connectivity with local IoD Members guiding peer-to-peer discussion and development while giving a local voice and presence to the Institute. Ambassadors encourage proactive engagement between members and their local Branch and lead on a sector or portfolio area, which best aligns with their core personal and professional expertise e.g., Sustainability, Digital or Education; in my case Chartered Director (CDir).  

As CDir Ambassador it is my role, together with committee colleagues, to raise professional standards and encourage members to embark on becoming a CDir. CDir is the professional qualification for directors and recognises the high standards and capabilities that are needed for ensuring the profession of ‘director‘ is recognised and understood and placed at the heart of organisational life. CDir is not about post nominals and a fancy certificate it is about raising boardroom standards particularly how directors provide direction and governance.

I’ve been a Chartered Director since 2008. I don’t have all the answers however, I’ve learned a lot since completing the Diploma in Company Direction in 2004 and I’m keen to help by sharing my experiences. Connecting directors and learning from one another is what the role of Ambassador is all about.” 

What attracted you to this role?

I first became a director in 2002 and since then developed a passion for promoting professional standards. The role of a company director is varied however, acting with integrity is at its core. I believe directors should not only possess technical skills e.g., finance, strategy but also the behavioural meta-skills necessary to lead and inspire others. The board and its directors set the tone for the organisation and casts an exceptionally long shadow if behaviours are inconsistent with company values.

How does it integrate with the work you are doing at HAELO?

It fits like a glove! HAELO is in the Governance, Risk and Compliance, GRC, business, I’ve spent the past five years working with various organisations improving how they manage GRC specialising particularly on unravelling organisational complexity and improving sense-making. GRC is often considered three separate subjects however, they are intrinsically linked working in concert to assure the health and prosperity of the enterprise. Governance is about alignment i.e., verifying arrangements e.g., people, processes and systems are in place to deliver the business outcomes. Risk is about safeguarding the governance arrangements and detecting and responding effectively to environmental changes be it threat or opportunity. Finally, Compliance is about validation and ensuring all the governance arrangements are in place and operating as intended. It’s important to stress GRC is not only about assuring legislative and regulatory compliance it’s a holistic approach covering every aspect of the enterprise from business administration to business delivery.  

What do you enjoy most about this role so far?

“Getting to know the other committee members. We all bring different experiences and strengths however, our common bond is creating economic prosperity for Glasgow and the West of Scotland and all of Scotland for that matter. I know the chair, John Anderson (Head of SME Engagement at Strathclyde Business School), very well and I’m getting to know the other members, they are a great bunch. We have identified several key focus areas including Education, Digital, Life Sciences and Sustainability and have appointed Ambassadors for each.”

Any tips for entrepreneurs?

The biggest challenge for executive directors is striking the balance between working ‘in’ and working ‘on’ the business, this is particularly difficult for directors of SME’s which lack the breadth and depth enjoyed by larger organisations. I know all too well how easy it is to get caught up in day-day operations and be at the thick end of thin things. It is important directors set aside and jealously guard time to focus attention and effort on directing and governing activities as this will ultimately determine success, as CDir Ambassador this is where I can help.