Dr Kori Schake appointed as Deputy Director-General for the International Institute for Strategic Studies

Dr Kori Schake appointed as Deputy Director-General for the International Institute for Strategic Studies

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has announced the appointment of Dr Kori Schake as Deputy Director-General. Dr Schake is a leading defence expert who during her career has worked dynamically and creatively at the nexus of government, academia and think tanks.

Kori will join the IISS in February 2018 from the Hoover Institute at Stanford University where she is a Distinguished Research Fellow. As Deputy Director-General, she will oversee the Institute’s world-class research programme and act as a driving force behind initiatives to enhance the Institute's work and profile, including developing new funding opportunities and deepening links with governments, the private sector, and the expert and opinion-forming communities internationally on strategic issues. Kori’s appointment comes as the IISS prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary year and underlines its commitment to expanding its research programme and widening its policy impact.

During her illustrious career, Kori has held policy positions across government, academia and think tanks, including working with both the military and civilian staffs of the Pentagon, in the White House at the National Security Council, and at the US State Department as Deputy Head of Policy Planning. She served as a senior policy adviser to Senator John McCain when he ran for president in 2008 as the Republican nominee. Her academic career includes appointments at the US Military Academy, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland teaching strategy, war and European security.

As a prominent commentator on foreign policy, Kori has written widely on strategy and international relations for leading US and international publications, including Foreign AffairsSurvival and The Atlantic. She is a regular contributor to Foreign Policy’s ‘Editor’s Roundtable’ podcast. She has authored a number of books, most recently Safe Passage, an account of the transition from UK to US power on the global stage, published by Harvard University Press in November 2017, which is described by Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman as having a ‘compelling thesis, engagingly written and sharply argued’.

Dr John Chipman, IISS Director-General and Chief Executive, said: "I am delighted to welcome Kori Schake to the IISS in London as Deputy Director-General. She brings with her a wealth of policy and strategic experience at the highest level and will be an energetic, imaginative and inspiring IISS colleague as we expand our research programme and global reach."

Dr Kori Schake said: "The exceptionally talented IISS team has been at the forefront of defence and security thought leadership for 60 years, and I’m eager to contribute to its work at this critical time of challenges to and reconsideration of the international order."

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Dr. Juliette Fritsch, new Head of Exhibitions and Visitor Experience at the Natural History Museum of Denmark

Dr. Juliette Fritsch, new Head of Exhibitions and Visitor Experience at the Natural History Museum of Denmark

The Natural History Museum of Denmark has announced that Dr. Juliette Fritsch has been appointed as the new Head of Exhibitions and Visitor Experience. Juliette comes from a similar position at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, just north of Boston. Previously she has worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. At both museums, she worked on major institutional transformation projects creating new galleries and experiences for the audience. Dr. Juliette Fritsch has over twenty years’ experience in the international cultural sector. She will be part of the Museum Leadership and takes a seat at the Board of Directors.

Prior to her hiring, Juliette served as Chief of Interpretive Experiences and Creative Partnerships at the Peabody Essex Museum working closely with curators, designers and artists to deliver exciting and imaginative exhibitions and associated education programs. Her extensive experience makes her a natural fit to meet the dynamic needs of a modern-day museum and she will play an important role in the journey toward the new natural history museum. 

"I am proud of welcoming an internationally strong professional like Juliette Fritsch. I am greatly looking forward to working with her and I am extremely pleased that the Museum and the University of Copenhagen stand to benefit from her long-term experience and visionary approaches" says Professor Peter C. Kjærgaard, Director of the Natural History Museum of Denmark. He adds: 

"The Museum used an international recruitment agency to find the right candidate and the recruitment of Juliette Fritsch is an outstanding chance to bring the highest international level of museum exhibitions and visitor design to Denmark."

Photo: Anders Drud, Natural History Museum of Denmark.

Marie Curie appoints Vindi Banga as new Chair

Marie Curie appoints Vindi Banga as new Chair

Marie Curie has announced the appointment of Vindi Banga as their new Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Vindi Banga is currently a partner at private equity firm Clayton Dubilier and Rice, Chair of Kalle GMBH, Senior Independent Director at Glaxo Smith Kline and Marks and Spencer. He is also on the Board at the CBI.

Previously Vindi Banga spent 33 years at Unilever as Chairman and Chief Executive Hindustan Lever Ltd and then as President of the Global Foods, Home and Personal Care Division. He is currently Chair of the Karta Initiative, an organisation which supports improving access to world class higher education for students in developing countries. His wife and he have founded their own charity – The Kamini and Vindi Banga Foundation.

Commenting on the appointment, Dr Jane Collins, Chief Executive at Marie Curie said: “I am delighted to welcome Vindi as our new Chair. He brings with him invaluable experience and insights from the worlds of business, education and philanthropy. I am looking forward to working closely with him over the following months and years.”

Vindi Banga said: “It is a great honour to be chosen to be the next Chair of this great charity and as Marie Curie prepares to embark on a new strategic period of growth.  I look forward to working with Dr Collins and the Trustees and to make my own contribution to such an important cause."

Clarie Middleton Appointed New Principal of Rose Bruford College

Clarie Middleton Appointed New Principal of Rose Bruford College

Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance announced the appointment of Clarie Middleton, currently Chief Executive of the Hackney Empire, as its new Principal and Chief Executive Officer. Clarie Middleton will take up her new post in February 2018. She is the first woman since Rose Bruford to be appointed to the role.

Clarie has over 25 years’ experience as an arts and cultural leader. She began her career working for Welsh National Opera before joining the Arts Council’s Touring Department.  This was followed by the formation of Clear Day Productions which commissioned and staged co-productions with Bristol Old Vic and Plymouth Theatre Royal. She went on to work with Thelma Holt Ltd for five years, touring large scale theatre productions and working with major international artists including Yukio Ninagawa, Vanessa Redgrave and Alan Rickman.

In recent years, Clarie has worked as a change management consultant for a range of institutions including the Hereford Courtyard Arts Centre and Watford Palace Theatre. She has also held interim Chief Executive roles at the Bristol Old Vic, Adzido Dance, and Exeter Northcott Theatre. In 2008, she served as the interim Chief Executive of the Students' Union at the University of Bristol, where she developed an operational model that could sustain the Students’ Union’s aspirations to support, represent and develop all of its members.

Since 2009 Clarie has been Chief Executive of Hackney Empire. Under her leadership the Empire has grown audiences, achieved a firmer financial footing and enhanced resilience (including the establishment of diverse income streams and Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation status through to 2022), and developed an inspirational artistic vision with diversity and inclusion at its heart.

She has also enabled key collaborations with, among others, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Northampton Theatres, Opera Philadelphia, the Apollo Theater in Harlem, the Armel Festival in Budapest, Cape Town’s Isango Ensemble, the Royal Opera House and English National Opera – as well as with Sony Europe/Hawkeye exploring new technology for digital capture.

Clarie has been a trainer for the British Council on their Creative Economy programme, an associate of CiDaCo in Leeds to deliver the Arts Council’s Developing Cultural Resilience programme, and a member of the International Jury for the annual Armel Opera Festival in Budapest since 2016. Clarie is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

When accepting the role of Principal of Rose Bruford College, Clarie Middleton said;

“Rose Bruford College is a truly distinctive specialist Higher Education institution and a creative community with a radical heritage and a history of innovation. I was hugely attracted by its values and aspirations around excellence and collaboration, transparency and empowerment, internationalism and partnerships – all of which are underpinned by real commitment to diversity and widening participation.”

The appointment of Ms Middleton comes at the end of a successful year for the Sidcup based college following the awarding of its own Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) and a Gold Award in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Rose Bruford College Chair of Governors, Monisha Shah said;

“On behalf of the Governors, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Clarie Middleton as Principal and CEO of Rose Bruford College. The Governors and I know that Clarie has the vision, experience and stature to lead Rose Bruford College into the exciting next phase of its development and build on its recent successes, including TDAP and TEF Gold. We welcome her warmly to the team and look forward to working with her as she does so.”

Ofcom announces four new non-executive directors for Channel4

Ofcom announces four new non-executive directors for Channel4

Ofcom, the communications regulator in the UK, has announced the appointment of four new non-executive directors to the Board of Channel 4.

Althea Efunshile

Althea Efunshile CBE is the Chair of the National College Creative Industries. She is also a Board Member and Trustee of Ballet Black, and a Non-Executive Director of Goldsmiths College (University of London) and University College London NHS Foundation Trust. Althea has also held senior executive positions in the cultural and educational sectors, including Deputy Chief Executive at the Arts Council, and Executive Director for Education and Culture at the London Borough of Lewisham.

Uzma Hasan

Uzma Hasan is a producer and co-founder of Little House Productions, which focuses on bringing subversive stories to global audiences. She sits on selection committees for the British Independent Film Awards and Film London and consults for the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Her latest feature FirstBorn sold worldwide to Netflix and she is currently developing BAFTA nominee Ritesh Batra’s next film.

Fru Hazlitt

Fru Hazlitt is currently a Non-Executive Director at Merlin Entertainments and Deputy Chair of the Board at Downe House School. She has held senior executive positions across the UK’s media industry, including Managing Director of Commercial, Online and Interactive at ITV, Managing Director at GCap Media, and Chief Executive at Virgin Radio.

Tom Hooper

Tom Hooper is the Oscar-winning director of The King’s Speech, The Danish Girl and Les Misérables. He began making short films as a teenager, and had his first professional short, Painted Faces, broadcast on Channel 4 in 1992. His film and television work has received a number of industry awards and nominations – including Emmys and Golden Globes for Elizabeth I and Longford, both of which he directed for Channel 4. Tom has been a Governor of the British Film Institute since 2011.

The appointments have been approved by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley MP.

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Ofwat announces appointment of new Chief Executive

Ofwat announces appointment of new Chief Executive

The water regulator for England and Wales, Ofwat, has announced the appointment of Rachel Fletcher as its new Chief Executive.

Rachel joins from Ofgem where she is Senior Partner for Consumers and Competition and sits on the Ofgem Board.

She joined Ofgem in 2005 and during her time there was also Partner for Distribution, leading the Electricity Price Control Review and introduced the Low Carbon Network Fund. Before joining Ofgem, Rachel worked as a consultant advising public and private sector organisations around the world on energy strategy and policy.

Announcing her appointment, Jonson Cox, Chairman of Ofwat, said:

“This is such an exciting time for Ofwat and that was reflected in the strength of the candidates who applied to be our new Chief Executive.

“Rachel’s impressive track-record and experience in regulation of network and customer focused businesses, alongside her clear leadership qualities, make her an ideal Chief Executive for Ofwat. Rachel will complement the team leading the upcoming price review and she will take Ofwat forward to the next phase of its evolution beyond 2020. I am really looking forward to working with her as we push the water sector to deliver more of what matters for customers.

I would also like to express my appreciation to David Gray and Dermot Nolan at Ofgem for allowing Rachel to join us so promptly.”

Rachel Fletcher said:

“Ofwat has set a high ambition for what the sector should deliver for customers, and meeting this challenge is what makes the role so exciting.  With the upcoming price review, new business retail market and ongoing requirement for the sector to secure the trust and confidence of customers – there is lots to do.  I look forward to building on the work done so far and working with the Ofwat team to make a positive and lasting difference for customers.”

Rachel’s appointment follows the departure of Cathryn Ross, who is leaving to take up an executive positon at BT. Rachel will join Ofwat on 8 January.

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Director and Producer Jonathan Church CBE named as first Chair of Marlowe Theatre

Director and Producer Jonathan Church CBE named as first Chair of Marlowe Theatre

One of the country's top theatre directors and producers has been named as the first Chair of new The Marlowe Theatre Trust.

Jonathan Church CBE held the position of Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive at Chichester Festival Theatre and Artistic Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Salisbury Playhouse, and is credited with transforming their fortunes. His award-winning successes include West End transfers from Chichester of GypsyENRONSweeney Todd and The Young Chekhov Trilogy.

He currently runs his own production company, Jonathan Church Productions, which was formed in association with Delfont Mackintosh Theatres. He is also Artistic Director for the Theatre Royal Bath’s Summer Season, and is on the board of the Almeida Theatre, London, and the National Youth Music Theatre.

While the new theatre was being built (2009-2011), Jonathan was a visiting professor for Canterbury Christ Church University, and a board member and Chair of the Performing Arts Sub-Committee for the Creative Foundation in Folkestone.

Jonathan said: “The rebuilding and revitalisation of the new Marlowe Theatre is one of the great regional arts success stories of the last decade.

“The combination of enlightened investment by Canterbury City Council, the hard work and commitment of the theatre staff and the passionate engagement of audiences has created a unique environment for future growth and success.

“I’m extremely honoured to be working with the theatre in this new role at such an exciting moment for the organisation.”

Paula Gillespie, Acting Director of The Marlowe, said: “This is an inspired appointment: Jonathan’s theatre credentials and theatre wisdom are second to none.

“We are thrilled to be entering this new phase of The Marlowe’s evolution with Jonathan at the helm, helping us to fulfill our ambitious vision of The Marlowe as the best regional theatre in the country.

Leader of Canterbury City Council, Cllr Simon Cook, said: “It says so much about The Marlowe’s reputation in the industry that we have been able to attract such a highly talented and respected figure as Jonathan to become the Chair of the new trust.

“It is an exceptional appointment and we have no doubts that he is the perfect choice to take The Marlowe forward for many years to come.”

ZSL appoints Dominic Jermey as new Director General

ZSL appoints Dominic Jermey as new Director General

International wildlife conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) has announced the appointment of Dominic Jermey (CVO OBE) as Director General. Dominic succeeds Ralph Armond, who has served the organisation for 13 years. 

Commenting on his new role, Dominic Jermey, said: "I am delighted to be taking on the leadership of ZSL, a vibrant British institution with global impact on wildlife conservation. With its unique combination of world-class zoos, education and conservation breeding programmes, ground-breaking science and field projects in over 50 countries, ZSL makes a massive positive difference  to wildlife, to the sustainability of habitats and to the public's understanding of our interdependence with the animal kingdom.

“I have always been driven by a desire to help shape a better world for my children. I have already had the opportunity to serve and contribute in some of the most challenging environments around the world.  I am proud now to be joining ZSL, an organisation that has advanced zoology, promoted understanding of conservation and engaged the public on wildlife for nearly two centuries. 

“I want to develop ZSL's reach and impact at this critical moment for global biodiversity, so that as we approach ZSL's bicentenary, we are a core part of the answer to the global challenges facing wildlife today. 

“Working with the outstanding team at ZSL, with the Society’s tremendously dedicated partners and supporters, and forging innovative new partnerships to address these pressing challenges, I am confident we will achieve enormous success together in ZSL's mission of promoting the global conservation of animals.” 

Confirming the appointment, ZSL’s President Professor Sir John Beddington, said: “On behalf of ZSL’s Trustees, I am delighted to announce the selection of Dominic Jermey as our new Director General.  He has extensive experience of working with FTSE CEOs on international business strategies as well as operating globally at a senior level. We believe that Dominic will bring strategic vision to ZSL, which we need to take us forward in achieving our aims.”



In our latest edition of CANVAS, Sandy Begbie reflects on the first days of the newly merged Standard Life Aberdeen Plc and emphasises the importance of people and culture in making this organisational change a success.

In his new integration role Sandy looks at what lies ahead for the business in its new position as the UK’s largest asset manager.

Can you explain a bit about your role how it has evolved in the past two years?

My role until the recent merger between Standard Life plc and Aberdeen Asset Management PLC was Chief People Officer of Standard Life plc. In addition to that I have also been a lead executive in our joint venture business in China and small retail business in Hong Kong where I chair the Audit and Risk committee and Strategy and Planning committee. I have been in this additional role in China for six years, and it has no HR function.

This dual role really reflects my approach to my career, and HR in general. Firstly, I have always tried to keep a foot outside the HR function, and secondly, I have always looked to really grab different opportunities when they have come along. 

As a function of the merger, I have been asked to take on a lead integration role. The view and approach from both Martin Gilbert and Keith Skeoch as joint CEOs is that culture is fundamental to the success of the merger. We know that whilst there will be some significant complexities we can get the IT systems and the properties to work. The biggest risks to success are the people, organisational design and culture. We need to get those vitally important parts right from the outset.

When you look at an asset management company at a basic level we are a people business, much more so almost than many other types of business. Our differentiator is the people we employ, the people we work for and with, and the culture that we engender in the business.

My role is definitely evolving as we begin life as a merged company. This is the largest merger in Scottish history, and one of the largest in the UK. The chance to lead on the integration of the two businesses was certainly too good an opportunity to miss.


When considering your role in the organisation’s Chinese business, is it less common in the finance sector to have the chief people officer or HR Director in a more ‘business-specific’ function? 

Yes, I would say so. There are other firms who have done it, but it is relatively rare. I did originally come from a banking background and that really has allowed me to broaden my leadership into other areas.

For me personally to be involved in other parts of the business keeps it interesting and also makes the HR/people function more relevant across the organisation. It gives me and my team a better overview of the whole business. The business in China is complex, and I sometimes think if I can understand and navigate that process, I can get to grips with any area of the business. 

I do truly believe that you can learn a lot more about yourself and the organisation by expanding your network. In general, I think there needs to be more business breadth amongst HR people, and having a strong understanding of the business workings, as well the importance of the people to the business benefits everybody.

Standard Life Aberdeen is a global organisation and has emerged as the UK’s largest asset manager. What would you highlight as the key challenges in addressing the changes this merger has brought to the employees across both organisations?

There is absolutely no getting away from the fact that there is a period of time with any change which will bring a lot of tension and we need to work through this. This involves realising synergies in the business and making cost savings, ultimately resulting in a reduction in people. This has been made public and there is awareness that there will be a headcount reduction of 800 from the current combined population of 9,000 employees, over a three year period, as a result of the merger. Synergies will come in part from customary employee departures and natural turnover, and we will be taking all appropriate steps to mitigate the number of compulsory redundancies.

We will be working through our approach over the next three to six months. It can’t be a sequential process, but we have to start engaging with people about what the new company will look and feel like. It is exciting for some people, but for others there is a continued anxiety about what it will mean for them. We realise that we need to address this as early as possible, whilst also stabilising the business and keeping customers and clients on the journey with us.

The external and internal worlds will be watching this whole process; assessing how we approach these challenges while merging the organisations, people and culture together.

As separate entities, there are inevitably differences between how the two businesses have worked in the past. The organisational structure, governance, and culture have been different. Although operating internationally, Standard Life Investments has been pretty Edinburgh-centric, with decision-making largely centralised here and a comparatively small global presence. It has also grown almost entirely organically, with one acquisition in its history. Aberdeen Asset Management has been a more global business operation and has grown mainly through acquisitions in the past decade.

Integrating these two businesses together will be the most significant marker of success. We know it’s important to all our clients and future clients that we keep our best people, continue to attract the best people and generate the best investment performance and returns. This is what we are committed to doing with the merger. 

Standard Life Aberdeen is operating with a dual CEO structure. What will that mean for the business and the organisational structure?

We are not the first organisation to do this, there have been a number of success stories. It has worked well in large international organisations such as Oracle, for example. Investment banking particularly also has a history of joint CEOs due to the diverse nature of the business make up.

This dual role has worked where you are genuinely merging two companies, and that absolutely is what Standard Life Aberdeen is. It is a merger – the mutual joining together of two organisations to make one larger entity. It would quickly meet a tipping point of not being considered a merger if there was a predominance of one organisation taking senior roles.

When you consider our two CEOs, they are quite different people. They do have commonality around values and approach, and very established and successful track records, but in terms of their innate interests and strengths they do differ.

Martin has a strong focus on the external side of the business – client, customer and external affairs. He is interested in marketing and brand building, and is a very engaging communicator.

Keith is an economist by background, and has always traditionally had a stronger focus on the investment and core business elements. He has built Standard Life Investments and of course he has a strong focus on clients, but he also recognises the importance of getting the culture right internally, getting people to work together.

They make a very impressive team and have real personal strengths and qualities which complement each other. To date it has worked as well as anyone could have expected, and it looks set to continue on that path.

What are the key methods that you and your team will be adopting to share the new brand and vision for the merged business with all your internal audiences?

We certainly cannot underestimate the importance of brand values and culture. It stretches right round the organisation, internally and externally. The client experience is heavily driven by the employee experience, and that needs to be as seamless, aligned and real as possible.

The ubiquity of technology does bring different avenues of communication and this can really help when addressing a larger, globally spread out audience. However, we can never underestimate the power of visibility. At times of change, this is paramount. We need to have leaders of the business on the ground, meeting, talking and updating. Those leaders who can communicate really well absolutely come into their own at a time of change.

How does the explosion of social media and constant availability of online news content impact on your interactions with staff and other stakeholders?

The way the two companies have typically communicated has been quite different up until this point, but it is starting to come together. From day one we have had to work hard at ensuring the approach is joined up about how we share information.

Social media has provided a really big jolt to internal communications particularly. It has created the need for quicker, smarter engagement and being able to reach audiences in a way that the internal communications function has not done before.

One of the initiatives which was launched just after the merger was a mood and sentiment survey. This has gone to all 9,000 across the merged group. We want to get real time information about how people are feeling and thinking and get a closer insight into existing cultures. We had been developing it for a while with Standard Life Investments, but this is the first time it has been carried out, and we are really positive about how this will help inform our approach. We will repeat this regularly to allow us to gain an instant sentiment to people and culture over the next couple of years.

It is amazing when you run a business like ours that we can get financial information and customer information instantly, but we didn’t have that same level of access to employee sentiment until now. It will be a very important tool for us and puts more emphasis on the leadership to take visible and accountable action.

The merger comes at a time of political and economic uncertainty in Scotland and UK, particularly in relation to Brexit. Can you outline how you address the challenges this external environment brings when communicating within your organisation?

Interestingly, and this is very typical when organisations or institutions are going through significant periods of change, people will naturally focus in on what it means for them, their role and their team. This is perfectly normal and we are very aware of this.

Of course Brexit and the political and economic uncertainty are key topics of internal discussion. Preparing for a successful Brexit transition is a strategic priority. However certainly at the moment, there is a more immediate focus on what is happening internally and how this might impact right across the organisation.

This is highlighted during our regular leadership calls which we hold as part of the merger integration process. During these calls the majority of questions are about people, culture and organisational structure. These really are the areas that are uppermost in our employees’ minds.

Of course, by no means are we an organisation which is close minded to what is going on externally, but when it comes to communications, we have to get the balance right about where we focus during this period of significant change and listen and pre-empt the needs of the business and our people.

With increased regulation across the sector what challenges does this bring? Does it make people management and recruitment more complex, requiring a greater level of technical or specialist knowledge across all levels of the business than in the past?

It does make recruitment more complex. Really good people have a lot of choices about where they can work. Most sectors nowadays have some form of regulation, but the financial services sector has a very high degree of it.

We find particularly with graduates that the opportunity to work in financial services doesn’t necessarily hold the same attraction as it used to. Graduates looking at the wider job market are placing a great deal of emphasis on values and what companies stand for. Certainly a company’s approach to sustainability is one of the top criteria a graduate would use to make choices about their employment. I’m pleased to say that we are well recognised for our approach to sustainability and have featured in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for seven years now. The index is designed to measure the performance of sustainable companies by looking at how well they manage environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities which impact on their long-term success. Our listing places us within the top 10% of leading sustainable companies in the world from our sector.

However, one of the key points is about the reputation and the issues the financial sector has experienced in the past decade. As a result of the 2007/8 crisis, the regulator introduced a senior manager regime which allows it to hold senior people much more to account than in the past. This brings a far higher degree of reputational risk, particularly in functions like HR and IT, and this also can make this sector a less appealing area to work in.

Many financial organisations remain large, deeply complex organisations and I believe that finding the right people, the best people, is going to become harder.


Is there a need for greater diversity at a senior leadership level (not just gender specific) in the financial sector and beyond? If so, how can this be addressed?

There is definitely a need for financial services’ organisations to be much more mindful of the social climate and the change we have seen in the past, and continue to see now. There is still a considerable amount of discussion around remuneration, the purpose of organisations, diversity and inclusion. This debate needs to be widened and positive action taken to address these issues. 

I believe that how businesses respond to the social inclusion agenda will go a long way to rebuilding the sector and demonstrating the good that these businesses can have in broader society. Financial services is very important to Scotland, and of course the UK, but to regain trust in the sector amongst customers and clients will take time and require a lot of work from many organisations in areas where they have historically not been involved.

Standard Life has worked hard to be inclusive over the past five years particularly and I am a huge advocate. Our strategy leads with inclusion - based on attracting and retaining a diversity of talent in its broadest sense and on ensuring we have an environment in which all our people can fulfil their potential and feel they can be themselves at work. For example, we were the first private sector company in Scotland to become not just a living wage employer, but a Living Wage Friendly Funder too. We’ve made sure that we pay a minimum of the real living wage to all our employees, regardless of their age, and this applies to all our young interns and apprentices. At the same time, As a Friendly Funder we also make sure that any roles we fund with the charities we work with are funded at the Living Wage. We’ve also built the living wage into our supply chain. What that means is that all suppliers who work with us need to be living wage employers or give that guarantee to all their employees who come onto our sites. 

Another project we are involved in to reinforce the importance of the living wage and help young people get into work is through the Princes’ Trust. We fund one of its initiatives in London, and more recently five other cities, which brings young people in to work with SMEs by offering them training and coaching. In some cases the SMEs don’t have the funds to pay the living wage but we have committed to subsidising the salary of any young person employed by this scheme to guarantee it.

We have also done a substantial amount of work with those coming out of the armed forces. We have a network of about 40 ex-armed services personnel employed in our business, and look to support organisations who help those out of the army into work. A few years ago we worked with the British Royal Legion to fund the introduction of a brand new training programme and website, to help those in the armed forces to improve their financial fitness. This was the first time that structured financial education was built into all Armed Forces basic training, bringing real and tangible benefits.

One of the key points of diversity is of course gender. We cannot deny that we have challenges with regards to our gender diversity at the top of the organisation. We are working hard to shift this balance and a lot of emphasis is on growing a sustainable gender balanced pipeline. Our graduate level is more than 50 percent female; at emerging leader level we have 50 percent females; and at the senior leader level it is approximately 25-30 percent. In our succession pipeline, 38 percent of those we consider will be ready to operate at Executive Committee level in 3 years plus is female and we are focussed on supporting their continued development. At board level we have been above 30 percent female for the past decade, and that is a trend that will continue. We have a very strong women’s development network, which has been recognised externally also. We are moving in the right direction in this area, and it is fundamental part of our long term strategy.

An area that we need to focus more on in the future is around disability and we have projects in the pipeline to address this with regards to our employment approach and wider social mobility strategy.


Looking ahead, what will be your biggest indicator(s) of success in the change management process in the next 1-4 years for Standard Life Aberdeen plc?

We are embarking on a three year programme of change, but I would like to think that the bulk of my work in this integration role will have been carried out over the next two years, and the businesses are effectively merged. I am very aware that it can’t run for too long, as there is a greater risk of project fatigue.

For the business at large, being counted as one of the successful mergers to take place in business history would be a great indicator that the process has worked. There is some research which suggests a higher rate of failure for mergers than acquisitions. This higher failure rate has largely been put down to lack of integration and proper establishment of culture and purpose.

When setting out on the path of a merger, there is a fine balancing act required. We have a dual chief executive function and a board which is 50/50 from both organisations. There is a full commitment by both sides to making it a success.
Some of the more measurable indicators which we would assess on a regular basis include maintenance of business as usual; asset retention; staff retention; graduate and staff recruitment; customer satisfaction; brand awareness; attraction of new clients; management of change; and integration of new culture.

Standard Life Aberdeen is now the largest asset manager in the UK, second largest in Europe and one of the top twenty in the world. If we get this right, we will create a vitally important financial power house based in Scotland. This will have a real impact on people’s lives, both in the capital and beyond, within the organisation and externally. This is our ultimate goal and one that we are working very hard together to deliver.


Sandy Begbie is responsible for the Global People, Organisation & Culture Integration since the successful merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management on 14 August 2017. He is also the Lead Executive for the Joint Venture Heng An Standard Life in China and the Asia business based in Hong Kong. Sandy joined Standard Life in May 2010 as the Group Transformation Director. He is the Chairman of Career Ready, Scottish Advisory Board (SAB) and also Chairs the new Regional Developing Young Workforce (DYW) group to tackle Edinburgh and Lothian youth unemployment. He was recently appointed as a NED to the Open University Board.

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People Moves in International Development

People Moves in International Development

We are delighted to share the latest edition of Saxton Bampfylde’s People Moves in International Development, which we hope makes for interesting reading.  People Moves is a guide to some of the big appointments in the sector, those you have seen and those you may have missed.

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is a regular insights update from Saxton Bampfylde. We aim to share interesting thoughts and perspectives on topics and issues that are relevant and current across sectors.

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