7th MAY 2020 - Page 18



32
Business INsight
TUESDAY JANUARY 29 2019
www.irishnews.com
business@irishnews.com
Young directors vital for thriving into future
W
E OFTEN talk
about the need
to increase
diversity on
our boards as
a means to create improved
corporate governance and
better businesses.
This discussion can be
dominated by a call to increase
representation from women
and those from ethnic minority
backgrounds – each of which
are incredibly important –
but raising up more young
directors is also hugely
beneficial.
Youthful business leaders
can bring with them
renewed entrepreneurial
energy, fresh ideas and, for
businesses eager to fasten
their succession planning, are
a necessary addition to senior
management.
According to consultancy
firm Spencer Stuart, the
average age of company
directors and board members
in the UK is rising.
In its 2018 UK Board Index,
the firm reported the average
age of company directors in
the leading 150 firms to be
59, which it said continued
an historical trend of aging
boardrooms.
Some analysts have
suggested that around a fifth
of company bosses will soon
reach retirement or need to
MARKETING
Kirsty
McManus
“Youthful business leaders
can bring with them
renewed entrepreneurial
energy, fresh ideas and, for
businesses eager to fasten
their succession planning,
are a necessary addition to
senior management.”
be replaced.
The age profile is more or
less in line with most other
major economies and there
are of course significant
advantages in having older
directors in terms of the
experience and knowledge
they bring to the table.
In contrast, companies in
some European countries such
as France, Italy and Norway
are becoming more youthful in
a bid to help them tackle new
technologies and issues like
cybersecurity.
The benefits to having
young directors in the senior
management team stretch
beyond their tendency to be
more digital savvy, however.
Any new demographic will
bring a different perspective
to decision-making and where
young people are concerned,
they also represent the largest
part of the workforce.
Greater boardroom diversity
generally will impact on an
organisation’s ability to attract
and retain staff and customers,
particularly younger people.
Perhaps most of importantly
at all, young directors are
virtually a necessity for
businesses as they seek to
put in place succession plans
that will see the organisation
continue to flourish long after
its current executive leaders
have retired.
Moving into senior
leadership can be a daunting
prospect however, both for
the emerging director and the
organisation itself.
The Institute of Directors
in Northern Ireland supports
the development of youthful
leaders through the Young
Directors Forum, made up
of executives aged under 44,
representing private, public
and voluntary organisations.
With the forum aiming to
provide a support network
that will assist young directors
and emerging leaders in
growing their businesses and
developing their own skills,
the common theme is that they
are committed to their own
professional development and
enjoy making new business
contacts.
Regular events, such as a
recent evening hearing from
Belfast godfather of punk Terri
Hooley allow forum members
and others to learn best
practice, network with likeminded individuals, discuss
issues of concern to their
contemporaries and access
high-quality professional
development.
Our flagship Young Directors
Conference, which is regularly
attended by more than 150
business leaders will take
place once again this October.
This, and other initiatives
that can encourage young
people to move into director’s
roles and improve the skills
of those already in senior
leadership, can ensure our
boardrooms and businesses
grow in diversity and allow
organisations to thrive well
into the future.
Kirsty McManus is the
national director of the
Institute of Directors (IoD)
Northern Ireland
n ENERGY SOURCE: Youthful business leaders

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