Christine Ryan who, until April 2017, was the Chief Inspector and CEO of the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), the largest independent inspectorate in the UK and the agency responsible for the inspection of more than 1250 independent primary and secondary schools, educating more than half a million children. We talk to Christine in depth about her time at the ISI and how she believes the sector has, will and must evolve.

Is the UK independent schools’ sector becoming too focused on regulation and compliance and too little on learning and developing young people?
I don’t believe that schools are becoming too focused on regulation and compliance. What has been happening in the past decade or so, is a more conscious engagement with the subject, but this has most definitely not replaced or reduced a focus on teaching and the development of young people.

For some schools within the independent sector, and for that matter some maintained or state schools, a greater focus on regulation and compliance meant a more considerable shift in thinking and approach than for others.

These days it is very much part of the school fabric with all processes and protocols in place. It really is now one cog (an important one of course) within the larger school machine. For the majority of schools, regulation has become part of the general housekeeping and is one element of the approach towards the overall goal of educating and developing children.

Nobody would deny that safeguarding pupils and teachers is paramount. Which areas of compliance do you believe are the most effective to achieve a safe learning environment?
This is a much broader topic than it might first appear. Traditional safeguarding, as we might have called it, has developed so much, particularly in the world of increased digital access. The more ‘typical’ bullying and social exclusion now exists alongside issues such as sexting or cyber bullying, for example.

With any type of safeguarding it really does depend on the school’s starting point and what the overall approach is from each organisation. I do believe, as a fundamental starting point, that regulation is the critical first step in raising awareness to the most effective ways of safeguarding pupils.

The most successful examples are where it is applied on a risk-assessed basis. Defining a fixed set of guidelines, which is great for getting people and organisations up to a minimum level, doesn’t take into account the complexity of certain schools and so makes the flexible risk-based approach even more important.

Safeguarding checks on staff and volunteers are an absolute must, alongside a suite of policies and processes in each school. However, it is how this regulation is applied that can be key. There is not really a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Each school is different. What might work best in a day school in an urban area, may be less effective in a boarding school in a remote location.

I would however stress, that too heavy a reliance on regulation alone can create too much of a reassurance or illusion that nothing can go wrong. Compliance with a regulation is only as good as the moment it is looked at. What we need to remember is that we are all dealing with human beings, who cannot be completely regulated or guaranteed compliant all of the time.

The best protection of all is an active approach to compliance issues. Assessing risk according to context and circumstance and maintaining high levels of awareness from staff, pupils and parents is the optimum way to ensure safeguarding.


Will there be greater responsibility placed on senior leadership in the future to ensure that governance is appropriately managed and delivered within schools?
I think so. I think it has always been there but not always been front and centre, but the world has moved on. People do expect compliance with law and regulation in all walks of life.

It is, as ever, with the leaders where the buck stops. Implementation of good governance arrangements is happening right across the sector. School leaders are doing what is required of them, not just in policy, but in practice. They absolutely recognise the importance of good governance within their schools and most have put the right systems and processes in place to ensure this and keep a keen oversight in this area.

Do we need to be thinking more creatively about the candidate pool for governors, trustees or senior leadership as the reality of greater challenges and expectations for the role increases?
I definitely believe we need to think more creatively. I know from my interaction with governors over the years that they were much less aware of what was required of them within regulation and compliance. It might not always have been so obvious the level of responsibility and authority that they held. This was an historical issue and a reflection of the fact that the pivotal role of governance hasn’t always been as prominent as it is now.

Traditionally the perceived view was that governors were primarily guardians of finances and resources. The commitment to education, regulation and compliance was often seen as the responsibility of the staff in the school. This was even the view despite the fact that most regulation names trustees and governors as proprietors, and therefore responsible, for the schools.

However, this outlook is shifting considerably. There is much greater awareness of the role than there was in the past. There is also more responsibility in terms of regulation as this area has increased over the years.

Schools are definitely thinking more about those being approached for governor roles. They are looking for a range of expertise, modern skills and an understanding of commercial business practice in many cases. However, what they also need are those who can commit time to the role. New demands on governors can create challenges for the candidate pool. This is an issue which can be magnified even more for schools based in remote or challenged areas where the number of candidates may be small.

I believe that quite simply the governor role is not sold positively enough. It brings huge benefits to individuals as well as schools; the chance to develop children and young people, enhance a local community or area, not to mention the business skills being learned through committee or board experience. Some companies across the UK are starting to directly encourage staff to get involved as governors or trustees in schools as they see the benefits it brings to their businesses. This is also encouraging a greater mix of younger and older representation on governing bodies which I believe works very well.


What will the new inspection framework mean for the independent sector? How will this benefit pupils, parents and teaching staff? What challenges does it face?
For me, the new framework represents an essential shift. It is the product of extensive consultation, bringing objective inspection squarely into the 21st century.

Since 2000 there has not been a considerable review of the system, and in that time the world has changed radically, and particularly for schools, young people and their parents. With easy access to data and constant communication on an unprecedented scale, it was absolutely necessary to review inspection. We have also gone from having a handful of regulations to over 400 areas of compliance, shifting the balance of inspection activity, so inspections these days are very different from what they were.

Schools in general, but particularly in the independent sector, have a much more mature and sophisticated approach to compliance than they had when routine inspection was first introduced. It was therefore important with the framework that we didn’t just tinker around the edges and paid heed to this change.

We have refocused our thinking to look more squarely at the outcomes for the child. Fundamentally that is what we are all interested in. We have not hugely changed our techniques, but the focus is much more on the impact of the various aspects of school life on the outcomes for their pupils. Providing the evidence to help schools to actively address development areas and build on strengths.

There was a need to highlight that compliance was now part of the housekeeping. Parents, teachers and governing bodies need to be confident and comfortable that housekeeping is being taken care of. It needs to be as simple as ‘yes, you comply’ or ‘no, you don’t’. There isn’t a need for a quality scale for this, it needs to be upfront and explicit. Either you have a licence to operate or you do not.

Beyond the compliance element, there is a much greater focus on areas of school life and how schools are delivering in these areas. This is what parents concentrate on more strongly. The hard data of performance and achievement as well as the softer data on personal development demonstrates how pupils are getting a broad and balanced education.

Educational quality is the key element of the framework. Remembering that the fundamentals of what goes on in schools has not changed so much, it is more about how we evaluate the different aspects of what schools do. We have taken a step back to look at how each of the aspects contributes to the overall outcomes for the pupils.

Within educational quality there are two key areas – achievement and personal development. Achievement is measured in exam and test results; music, sport, and other skills for example. Personal development is much more about how individuals are being educated to make them good members of society, building confidence, able and equipped to progress in life to their areas of interest, and maximise their potential in wider society, making a positive and productive impact to enhance the quality of their lives.

One of the keys to success in the independent sector is that its institutions do not necessarily follow the same methods and structures which are applied in the maintained sector. They are able to have the freedom to teach in the way that works specifically for their students.

We believe that this new framework will recognise this individuality and provide a different, characteristic and tangible picture of each school.

Are secondary and higher education environments working as well together as they could be to support young people as they transition through? Should this be made a priority under the Higher Education and Research bill?
I do think realistically this is less of an issue in the independent sector. However, it does require broader thinking about what the Higher Education sector looks like today. Many pupils, more so even than parents and sometimes teachers, have a greater awareness of alternatives open to them, which might make them think twice about going straight to university from school.

The business sector is spending more money on interacting with 18 year olds than at any point in recent history. The desire for graduates is not the sole focus any more.

Pupils are leading the way here. They are very savvy. Schools and the Higher Education sector need to be much more alive to this issue. It does present great opportunities across many sectors, but also challenges the thinking of secondary and higher education institutions to consider what good really looks like and what young people’s expectations of quality are.

Should there be greater interaction between the Independent and State school networks in the UK? If yes, what in your view are the best ways to do this?
In all honesty, I am not sure that anybody really knows what the level of interaction actually is. There is not enough reliable evidence or analysis to know whether there is enough, or whatever enough might be. In many areas schools work together as part of the wider community (independent and maintained schools together). Many voluntary initiatives are underway, with clear signs of benefits to those involved, but as in all communities and organisations, some are more isolationist and less willing to participate together than others.

It is an area that requires careful thought, and a need to tread lightly. It absolutely should not be done without real and proper evidence that regulated intervention is needed and a clear outline of what it wants to achieve.

Are there other countries whose education systems you admire, and why? Should we be borrowing ideas from others, or do we offer a preferable model in how we deliver education?
I have looked at many education systems not just over time, but across the globe. I would say we should always be alert to ideas, no matter where they are coming from. I have had cause to rethink things at times based on what I have seen going on in other countries.

However, what is very clear to me is that you have to be extremely mindful about cultural context, and that includes of course historical background for how and where each country is in its development and expectations of universal education. I have seen some big errors where certain countries have adopted external models that have been seen to work successfully without sufficient consideration of the different environment. It can lead to a lot of wasted time and effort. My thoughts are that we should always look outside of our own boundaries, be mindful of cultural context, do a clear, evidence-based evaluation and be sure about the criticalities of success.

What are the two biggest challenges for the schools’ sector as it moves forward in the next 5-10 years? What are the two biggest opportunities or positive changes set to take place in the next 5-10 years?
To me the challenges and opportunities are not separate; they are two sides of the same coin. What really stands out for me is technological change. This will mean increased globalisation of the currency of education, knowledge in other words. Whilst this is not new, it is the scale of what is available and the ability to access it quickly that is most significant.

Knowledge, whether we like it or not, is now commoditised on the internet. That is the basic currency of schools and educational establishments. We are already seeing the introduction of virtual schools, and I am in the process of designing an inspection model for this type of organisation. That is a phenomenon which is minute at the moment, but is likely to become much more of a feature. Even if not in the UK yet, certainly in other countries.

Technological change and the multi-faceted way it will impact on schools and on education policy brings huge opportunities, but it also brings real challenges. Obvious ones are data protection and preserving intellectual property. The policy and practice of the best schools will be available and visible to anyone who wants it. This will mean that the boundaries between what distinguishes the best schools in UK, for example, will become increasingly blurred as time goes on. Therefore, the pressure on educational policy and the speed at which it changes is going to be something that needs careful thought by our own government and others. The speed of development requires mechanisms of government and educational institutions to keep up.

Governments will need to ensure decision making processes are able to cope with that. Approaches that assume certain types of structures or organisational arrangements, need to be reviewed. In a rapidly changing world, policy making can appear too slow and relate to some elements that may just not apply going forwards.

Virtual reality, for example, is already used effectively in specialist professional training and is going to become a much more obvious feature in everyday life. That presents its own learning challenges and opportunities that the best schools are going to want to embrace.

We will also need to respond to a growing pressure for the role of education and schools in stimulating and supporting social mobility. This is not just a UK phenomenon, but the UK will feel it internally from its own pressures, and externally from the globalisation of education.

By social mobility I am not just talking about the ‘recognised groups’ but also whichever section of the population is disenfranchised from the opportunities presented by education. It can occur for lots of reasons – it can be social; lack of infrastructure; lack of access to good quality education; or for cultural reasons. That whole issue, because of increased internet communication is increasingly difficult both to hide and to control. Pressure will build exponentially in my view. If we are being honest, there has been very little significant improvement in educational outcomes and life opportunities for certain parts of our own population in more than 40 years.

So, I think there will be, quite rightly, building pressure to tackle this effectively and bring about change. Education is only one part of the solution – it can’t take responsibility for the whole issue but it is an important and integral part of improving life chances for those with the least promising start.


As you come to the end of 11 years as Chief Inspector with the ISI, what do you believe are the biggest changes that have taken place in the schools’ sector, and more specifically in the role of the inspectorate during your tenure?
Well, I certainly think one of the overriding shifts has been in the awareness of schools of the whole safeguarding agenda and their part and responsibility within this. This has been a national wake up and was very, very apparent to the ISI.

Coupled with that was the need for change in the way schools are governed. This is not complete yet by any measure in the maintained or independent sectors, but governance is now being increasingly recognised as an active process. Leadership is not just about one person, there is a corporate responsibility for delivery in schools. They are not just for education in a narrow academic sense, but also for the welfare and care of children in their charge. Schools are much more alert to this than a decade ago.

Sitting alongside that is the role of the inspectorate. Both Ofsted and ISI have seen our roles and expectations morph considerably in that time. We are not just agents for evaluating and stimulating through challenge on educational improvement, but also very much involved in the care and welfare agenda.

ISI has developed a stronger relationship with the Department for Education, government ministers and regulators and there is a clearer recognition of the contribution to the overall intelligence and evaluation of the independent sector and the contributions it can make across the broad educational agenda. Independent education is still an integral part of Education UK and this is more widely acknowledged today.

Importantly the exchange of ideas between the maintained and independent sector has strengthened quite significantly over the past decade; including in the way teachers move freely between both sectors, which can only be good thing.

My overriding experience in all that time is that it is very rare to find people working in schools whose intention is anything but the best interests of the children. That is why people go into this line of work. Even when things go wrong it is usually not for want of trying. Intentions are good, by and large. Schools are extremely responsive to the opportunity to learn and improve.


What are the key things that you will take away from this role?
Ultimately, I have seen that systemic change is much harder for governments to orchestrate than it might appear from the outside – I have definitely learned that! You need courage to challenge the orthodox view and there are so many genuine stakeholders or interests, often competing with one another, that getting real and meaningful change is not as easy as it might appear. That is why being prepared to think imaginatively and creatively, and with a sense of urgency, is so important.

What I believe passionately is that evidence-based and informed decision making, as opposed to opinion-based decision making is critical. As a scientist I have very much appreciated my own training in that.


Christine Ryan, until April 2017, was the Chief Inspector and CEO of the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), the largest independent inspectorate in the UK and the agency responsible for the inspection of more than 1250 independent primary and secondary schools, educating more than half a million children. ISI also inspects over 450 private further education colleges and English language schools on behalf of the Home Office and provides inspection and support services in many countries worldwide, including those seeking approval under the Department for Education scheme for British Schools Overseas.

A scientist, Christine is an accomplished teacher, inspector and inspector trainer both in the maintained and independent sectors. She has extensive experience with a range of education, commercial and media organisations in the UK and overseas. An experienced leader at board level, with a particular focus on strategy and policy, Christine is Chair of the national education charity TalentEd and is a Board Member for Ofqual, the government regulator for qualifications and examinations in England. She contributes to a number of scientific and educational publications, and has worked as science and education adviser for a variety of successful television series, including the winner of the Japan Prize for Educational Excellence.

Panorama named a top 'Global 25' executive search firm by Hunt Scanlon Media

Panorama named a top 'Global 25' executive search firm by Hunt Scanlon Media

Panorama, the global partnership of executive search firms, is proud to be named in Hunt Scanlon Media’s Global Top 25. Saxton Bampfylde is a founding member of the 15-member strong partnership, established in 2009.

Hunt Scanlon Media is one of the most respected reference sources for the executive search industry and has been defining the senior talent management sector for over 25 years. Every year Hunt Scanlon presents its annual roundup of leading executive search firms. 

Craig Buffkin, Chairman of Panorama and Founder of US firm Buffkin/Baker commented: “We are delighted to be recognised as one of the top global executive search firms in Hunt Scanlon Media’s ‘Global 25’. The partnership has grown from strength to strength since establishment in 2009. We have a wealth of highly talented and engaged partners who share a common commitment to excellence and shared values and this has played an important part in our success.

“Through our collaboration and combined global networks, we are proud to offer direct access to the most senior executive teams at our fingertips. We look forward to continuing to help our clients identify world-class talent and leadership and add real value to their organisations.” 

About Panorama

Operating across the world's major time zones, Panorama is an international group of 15 independent firms who are leading players in their respective markets. While representing a diverse range of local markets and areas of expertise, Panorama members share a strategic commitment to excellence along with similar values and ethics. Through its global reach, Panorama offers clients an ever-expanding global executive search force with a wide variety of sector expertise.  



Lynda Thomas talks about how the social impact sector is moving forward and why working together is the most important goal for the future.

Charities are increasingly helping to shape or influence public service and health and social care policy, particularly through organisations such as the Richmond Group, a coalition of 14 health and social care organisations in the voluntary sector. What impacts is this having? Are charities supported enough to undertake this additional activity?
It’s vital that charities, no matter whether large or small, have the ability, expertise and commitment to undertake influencer engagement. Working with key influencers allows charities to transition beyond helping one beneficiary at a time to effecting massive, long-term and sustainable change for a much wider group of existing or potential beneficiaries. In my mind, Macmillan Cancer Support has a key role to play in this area.

I feel passionately about working in coalition. The power of a collective voice, through that of organisations such as the Richmond Group, is an effective route to talk to government and policy makers about end-of-life care and other health issues.

Increasingly, we see Macmillan beneficiaries living with a whole range of other health issues such as heart disease, diabetes or dementia. In the UK today, there are hundreds of charities supporting the 15 million people who are living with long-term conditions. Working together means that there are not 15 or more organisations approaching policy makers or health officials separately. Working together makes it smoother and easier for the person you are trying to influence as it means we are influencing with one voice. A lot of the issues which affect our beneficiaries also affect those of other charities, so by working together to influence, inform and share we are achieving more. However, for coalitions like the Richmond Group to work, it’s vital that each member leaves its organisational badge at the door and goes in on behalf of the sector.

We recognise we’re a larger charity, and sometimes this can open doors for smaller charities to policy makers when working together. However, we are also learning from others who are smaller but do the influencer work incredibly well. Rethink Mental Illness, which is part of the Richmond Group, is a great example of this.


Does your approach differ across the devolved nations? 
At Macmillan we absolutely understand the importance of approaching each political and health administration accordingly. However, our influencing work typically focusses on our key issues and this ensures a consistent and clear message across the nations.

When I joined Macmillan, our spotlight was on Westminster, but so much has changed since then. We recognise that the governments and populations across the UK are very different so we have dedicated teams in each devolved country.

In Scotland, for example, health and social care are joined up and we can learn a lot from that. In Northern Ireland, with a population of 1.9 million, we often see some of our most innovative programmes take place. It is an ideal pilot ground as we can achieve scale and deliver impact for every person in the country. The challenge then is how to bring it back to other devolved countries.

In my experience, it has become clear that England has a problem accepting learnings and examples from other devolved nations. It is often the case that we are asked for international examples rather than those undertaken at a national or neighbouring country, which is a big mistake.

England has the biggest population in the UK. That makes it much, much harder than anywhere else to deliver change and improve service so that is where a lot of the problems are at this moment.

As part of the sustainability and transformation plans for NHS England, we are moving to smaller devolved areas in terms of healthcare. I believe now is the time to be focusing on the other countries in the UK and what we can learn from them.

Regulation continues to be introduced in the charity sector. Does this create more challenges, or are there opportunities to be found? How is this shaping the charitable landscape? 
Overall, we welcome the regulation and the greater level of scrutiny which has taken place over the past two years, particularly in the fundraising space.

At Macmillan, we have taken a long hard look at our fundraising practices and streamlined them to be clearly in line with donor choice so that they have an optimal experience with us.

We have a brilliant fundraising portfolio and I do believe that we are ethical. However, what the increased regulation has given us is the mandate to have honest conversations between the Board, the executive and fundraising teams, asking ‘what are we really about?’ We have personally spoken to 3,000 donors to get feedback on how they see us and our practices. We are committed to developing long term relationships with donors, and this is enforced through our fundraising promise.

We do have a good relationship with the Charity Commission. We have worked hard to make it reciprocal, bringing the team in to our organisation to see what a fundraising practice in a large charity really looks like. In turn, they have helped our people understand more about regulation. This has been a very positive experience across Macmillan.

The regulation has brought about a positive impact to the executive team, making us work closer together and be very clear about what we are doing, how we are fundraising and where the money is going. It has also enhanced the relationship with the Board, bringing the operational and governance functions closer together. The Board cannot run the charity, but its members now have a much better understanding of how we raise money and how we operate, and will also be much more involved in key decisions about how we fundraise into the future.

Regulation is here; we can’t and shouldn’t fight it. We do, and will, work with the regulator and make sure that we do all we can to be open. We are in a much better place than we were two years ago. That can only be a good thing.

Do regulation challenges make it harder to bring in new appointments, trustees and boards?
They have definitely put trustees and chairs of charities in a slightly different space, but it hasn’t impacted the level of interest in the roles. Well, certainly not with Macmillan Cancer Support.

With more responsibility and a potential for these roles to be much more public or media facing, we do need to be much more explicit about the job description. We do need to discuss clearly any challenges or reputational issues facing each organisation. This is quite a change, certainly from five years ago.

The benefits that can be achieved from supportive Chairs and trustees is invaluable. Our chair, Julia Palca, has been hugely positive and open in her support, and this has enhanced our overall approach and integration of regulation considerably.


How has scandal and media speculation affected the charitable sector? What changes has this brought about at an operational, fundraising and cultural level and how do you move on from this?
This has not been a positive experience for the sector. It really upsets me that the public do not trust charities the way it used to, as overall the sector has such a positive and tangible bearing on people’s lives. However, I can only really address the impacts and effects it has had from Macmillan’s perspective.

It was a shock at first and it took us a while to come to terms with the fact that people had started asking questions and doubting some of what we were doing. We took a decision early on that public perception and trust in Macmillan were key to us. With 99 percent of Macmillan’s income coming from the British public, we really can’t exist without that trust. We have worked hard to start regaining it, and are very clear that long-term trust is more important than short-term fundraising.

We needed to make sure that we were not seen as defensive and that we were taking on board what people were saying. Equally, we cannot be seen to be saying ‘we don’t need to fundraise’ anymore as clearly that is not true. We continuously need to think about how we ask. The reality is that people don’t just give, so we do still need to ask.

At an operational level, we have analysed the long-term values and risks of every single one of our fundraising channels and products. We have established a new executive committee for fundraising and marketing whose sole job is to look at this issue and review on a regular basis. We are working hard to give trustees and donors the confidence that we are behaving the way we should. This emphasises that we have carried out the due diligence. It feels good. It feels like the right thing to have done.

From a cultural point of view, we have moved to a place where we are certain that we are putting our donors and beneficiaries first, and this simply must be the way we operate. Macmillan staff are passionate about supporting beneficiaries so we’ve all had to look at what the impact has been on beneficiaries when we get it wrong. It has been quite a journey internally but one that we were all committed to.

The reality of our fundraising is that it is a closely-connected cycle as for every £4 we spend £3 has come from someone who has had a Macmillan service. Putting the needs of beneficiaries and donors at the heart of what we do has been vital and has enabled us to continue to fundraise successfully. This is maybe easier for healthcare charities, as people have greater affiliation or correlation with fundraising and the services being delivered.

If I ask myself ‘do I worry about fundraising?’ my response is always this: ‘What I really worry about is services. Provided we have excellence in services, our fundraising will come.’

How have you seen Macmillan change since you have been involved with the charity and now in your role as CEO?
There has been a seismic change in the organisation since I started 16 years ago. Back then it was a sleepy, slightly apologetic organisation, which did excellent things, but didn’t talk about them very much. We certainly didn’t ask people for money in a systemic way, nor did we have a consistent approach towards campaigns or influencer activity.

I started as part of the media team and with my job share, Hilary Cross, we set up the campaigning team and then went on to establish a fundraising team. I certainly don’t want to discredit anyone who was here all those years ago, it was just more the way it was across the sector.

Today, a career in an organisation like Macmillan is professional from the word go as the sector is becoming unbelievably professionalised. Fundraising is a great example of this. Previously this was done on a bit of a wing and prayer; now this is a great career to get into.

I think we have moved from a world where we hoped and thought that we did great things to one in which we have to constantly prove we do great things with tangible benefits for people affected by cancer.

Obviously, we are now a much larger organisation and that brings opportunities and challenges. We have perhaps diversified to the point that we need to think about a refocus. In the charity sector we have a tendency to say yes, but we are getting to a point where we need to focus on the things that we must do and consider those things that maybe we aren’t able to do.


What is next for Macmillan Cancer Support?
Ultimately it is establishing how we can be the organisation that really makes a fundamental difference to people affected by cancer.

There is not enough money in health at a time when the number of people affected by cancer is increasing. We are working in a very cash-constrained market and this will get harder. If we were a supermarket we would be saying ‘the doors are going to open and the customers are about to flood in’.

We really need to think about innovation in the Third Sector. We need to focus harder than ever on how we work collaboratively with other charities and the health service. Most people who have cancer in this country will have two, three, four, sometimes five other long-term conditions. The more we can work together to offer joint services, the better we can be for patients.

Service innovation and fundraising are key. We have to put aside our individual views and think about the bigger picture. An example of how we are working together to innovate is in our new graduate programme with the British Heart Foundation. We are in the second year of this programme which we hope will equip new graduates with a range of skills across both organisations. It means we have achieved a successful pilot project between our two organisations. Why wouldn’t we want to do that?

At the core of it all we need to make sure that what we are doing matters. I always feel like I am the custodian of my donor’s money. We owe it to them to ensure that we are using it in the best way in all we do.


Lynda was appointed Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support in March 2015. She joined the organisation 16 years ago as joint Head of Media and has played a significant role in transforming Macmillan into one of the UK’s most trusted charities. During her first ten years in the organisation, she was promoted to Board level as joint Director of External Affairs and helped develop the campaigning arm, as well as launching and maintaining the multi award-winning brand. In 2011, Lynda became Director of Fundraising, overseeing the launch of successful new fundraising products and a significant growth in income. In 2014 she was named Fundraising Magazine’s second most influential fundraiser in the UK.

Lynda started out her career in communications over 20 years ago, spending the first eight in consumer PR. She then moved to the Third Sector where she took on a voluntary role at NCH Action for Children that led to a job in the PR and Marketing team. After two years, she moved to the NSPCC as Media Manager, during which time she was part of the Full Stop Campaign launch, before joining Macmillan.

New Partner News

New Partner News

Global executive search and leadership advisory firm Saxton Bampfylde is delighted to announce the appointment of Mary Few as Partner.

Mary joined the Edinburgh team of the employee-owned business in April.

Originally from Aberdeenshire, Mary has recently returned from three years in Burma, where she set up and ran the operations for West Indochina, a leading search business in Myanmar. Prior to that Mary worked for a City executive search firm, specialising in insurance search.

Peta Hay, Managing Director for Saxton Bampfylde in Scotland commented: “We are very delighted to welcome Mary to the Scottish team, as we expand our connections and network right across the country.

“The market in Scotland continues to demand the very highest calibre of senior candidates from an increasingly wider pool at a national and international level. Having Mary on board to help enhance our search capabilities and service offering is a very positive move for us as we continue to grow the business.”

Stephen Bampfylde, founder and Chairman of Saxton Bampfylde said of Mary’s appointment: “Mary’s track record speaks for itself. We are delighted to have her on board as she returns home to Scotland with her family. With her experience at a national and international level. We believe she will bring a very interesting perspective to search in the Scottish market.”

Saxton Bampfylde has been working across many sectors in Scotland and globally for the past 30 years and opened its first dedicated Scottish operation in 2014. Most recently the team successfully placed leadership roles for Standard Life, George Heriot's School, Scottish Government, National Trust for Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland and University of Aberdeen.



As the Wates Group enters its fifth generation of family ownership, Tim Wates discusses how and why the business has prospered for 120 years.


Good luck has certainly played its part along the way. However, one thing that I believe is fundamental to the success and continuation of Wates Group is the passion which the family has always had for the business and continues to have to this day.

When considering the next generation the philosophy has always been to only pass ownership to those who were interested, genuinely, in the business. We’ve been able to do this by being a good business, profitable and with positive investments. We have always offered a fair deal for those children or inheritors who didn’t want to be involved. Running a tightly owned business with committed, engaged family members has been key to success and longevity.

The family has also had the good fortune to have interested, talented and motivated next generations to hand over to. We have a tradition of large families, and for that we are grateful. In the next generation we have some who are very interested and gaining a passion for the business. That is fantastic to see, and I hope that they will have the chance to flourish in the business, and find it rewarding and motivational.

For those who aren’t interested, there is no pressure on them. We try to make it fair, if not equal, in the way they are compensated if not keen to be involved.

Left to right: Andy Wates, James Wates, Tim Wates, Charlie Wates and Jonny Wates


As a business set up in 1897 what has been the key to success for 120 years? 
I believe, quite simply, we have had to be a good business to survive. Good in the sense that it is well run, but also in the sense that we operate in a sector which is in demand and resilient. We also believe that it is very important to be ‘good’ in the way we approach working with our communities and business partners, and understand the longstanding beneficial relationship. 
Over 120 years’ of business the Wates Group has stuck to, and been passionate about, its sector – the built environment. It is a strong sector with longevity. It doesn’t get destroyed or usurped completely by technology. It is also very UK oriented, which has given us a strong focus for growth.

Is a family business considered more of a strength in negotiations with partners, investors, suppliers or a potential risk? 
I think it is fair to say that it is a bit of a mix, but usually reputation and experience speak for themselves. Some suggest that family businesses have more committed and reliable leaders, and some suggest that they are less professional.

In the end I think it balances out, but the proof has to be in what you have achieved and delivered, and reflected in how you are measured by those you are negotiating with. At Wates we have worked hard to find the right balance between retaining the values and ethos of four generations of family ownership, with the governance and rigour of a professional executive.


Family politics can prove challenging at the best of times. What advice would you give to others in managing this from your experience at the Wates Group? 
I think that John L Ward, the famous business academic coins it best, likening family businesses to ‘gardens’. They need continual maintenance in order to flourish and bloom.

There is a common cause in a family business, and if problems, like weeds, break out then they need to be dealt with, dug up and not let to overgrow. ‘Dig it up, or tend to it; don’t just ignore it’ is the approach that we take as a business.

When looking to the next generation you have to make sure that those who are handing the baton, or trowel, on to are capable of operating and flourishing within the family business dynamic.

At the end of the day, it is all about a common cause and you all have to work really hard to deliver that. Communication is fundamental in making it a success.

It is not all roses and flowers, but the garden can be a great place to be much of the time.

You worked in the City before joining the family business. Would you encourage the next generation of family business owners to think about other careers to provide more experience?
Ultimately we would like our children and family members to flourish, find what is best for them and gain self-confidence. What we believe works best for the generations coming through is to gain experience, knowledge and insight elsewhere. Also, somewhere that doesn’t have the same family name. That is something we believe is in our children’s best interests, but also brings opportunities and new vision and experience to the firm.

Whatever their experience we can bring them in and train them up and show them how we do business. We will absolutely value the skills they bring and try our best to find the right part of the business for them so they can flourish and innovate in that role.

We don’t have rigid rules about the path that they take into the business, we need to be flexible. We have guiding principles, and we hope that these will bring about the best for the next and future generations to come.


In a family business going back generations, the commitment to a more diverse workforce and certainly leadership team may be more difficult to achieve. How do you look to address this at Wates’ Group? 
Well, biology has played its part. In previous generations of Wates’ it was very male dominated. Couple that with restrictions on women being shareholders in the founding generations, and our diversity was almost non-existent.

However, and this is a very positive thing for the business, there are a lot more women in the next generation. We do have a way to go in terms of a more gender diverse ownership, but there is no doubt that this will come in the next generation, and I am delighted to say that.

As an organisation, Wates is committed to improving diversity and inclusion, and we have senior female representation at both Group Board and Executive Committee level. However, we, as with other companies throughout the sector suffer from a lack of diversity, which we have to address to ensure the long-term sustainability of our industry. We are working hard to do this in our business, and with partners in the industry.

Family business makes up 87 per cent of all private sector businesses in the UK and therefore have a good collective overview of the political, economic and social landscape. What do you believe are the biggest challenges and biggest opportunities for UK business in the next 5-10 years?
The key challenge currently, and for the immediate to medium term future, is Brexit. It is, to us, a real concern. As a business we were publicly not in favour of it, but we now have accepted it as reality and we are ensuring that we have the processes and measures in place to provide resilience going forward.

There will be challenges, few are denying that, but what is absolutely critical is how government approaches it. It is vital that government remembers business and its fundamental significance. Business in this country, be it privately, publicly, family or employee owned, is at the heartbeat and drives the economy. Business voices need to be heard across markets and regions.

Sustainability is real and a major issue of focus. Climate change, population movement and population growth are huge factors that will provide businesses, political organisations, not-for-profits and others with significant challenges, but also some very real and positive opportunities.

Finally for business, as in most areas of life, technology is having more of an impact than almost anything else. It is moving so quickly and changing the goal posts continually. However, this absolutely brings with it new and equally exciting and mind-boggling challenges and opportunities along the way.

Dynamism and diversification are seen by many as key to business survival. Is this easier or harder to achieve for family business? 
No matter what your business ownership model, dynamism is always important for survival. Sometimes this can be harder for family businesses to achieve. Without access to stock market capital for new projects, a family business has to be much better at self-generating income. This can be a hugely positive incentive to encourage dynamism and ability to support that income generation. However, it can sometimes create a situation where a business just bobbles along, enough to survive into the next generation, but not to flourish. The best family businesses are some of the most dynamic organisations out there and demonstrate across many sectors how successful they can be.

In your experience do you believe that other business models in UK can learn lessons from family businesses? 
There are some key things that I have learnt in my career in a family business that I believe can also be important for other ownership models.

Firstly, there is a greater emphasis on taking a medium to long term view, looking ahead to the next generation and how to create longevity. We have a greater emphasis on creating more patient capital.

Secondly, another observation is the way in which family businesses embed themselves in industries and localities. With a far greater presence in trade organisations and business groups, they tend to push forward a whole range of issues fundamental to building links between business and communities.

I think these are areas that large businesses could learn and benefit from.

Sustainability of communities large and small – this shines through the Group’s business model, but also its charitable work. Why is this so important? How has this evolved?
We have a very strong feeling in our family that good business is good for society. We truly believe that. Family business, when run well, is an extremely important thread in the rich tapestry of UK life.

When you look at the topic of sustainability today it is a licence to operate. You cannot be a large business in our, or many other industries, without a proper and professional corporate approach to sustainability.

It is not a topic or way of operating that is new to Wates, however. We have a long history of sustainability and philanthropy within the company. My grandfather and great uncles built entire university buildings, giving millions of pounds to their local communities.

We continue the tradition of philanthropy today and it remains a core part of the company’s values. The Wates’ corporate foundation has provided approximately £12million to charitable causes over the past 8-10 years, and much of that focused in the communities where we and our staff operate and live. We look at it as a privilege to be able to support large and small projects through donations, match funding and pay as you earn.

Sustainability is clearly endemic throughout the whole business. We believe we are doing it well, but we do know there are areas in which we ‘could do better’. We pay a lot of attention to this, look at how our competitors and others are doing. It is a very real and ongoing focus for the business.

Are there are other family businesses that you particularly admire? If so, who are they and what is it you admire most?
There are a couple of examples in the UK. Firstly, Warburtons, the bakers. It is apparent through all areas of the business the strength of family values, and how this has remained not only part of the brand, but at the heart of operations. It operates in a very tough market, but the family maintains a high level of investment in their bakeries, staff and brand innovation.

The other is Pentland, the name behind many world class sports, outdoor and fashion clothing brands. As a third generation business, they remain committed to family values, continue to innovate, grow and invest wisely.

Internationally there is one example that really sticks out to me - Ayala, based in the Philippines. Formed 180 years ago, it has succeeded through seven generations. With market capitalisation it accounts for almost 20% of the Philippine Stock Exchange. Fundamental to its success is good harmonious family governance, which combines huge business success with a firm commitment to social responsibility through the Ayala Foundation.


Tim started his career at Cazenove & Co. in the City, prior to joining the Wates Group. He leads on housing for the Family and is Chairman of the Wates Family Council – the Family Shareholder forum. He is a UKTI Business Ambassador, Chairman of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and a Non-Executive Director of Tampopo and Pedder Property. Tim is a Trustee of various Wates Family charities and a Trustee Director of the Clink Charity. He is a member of the Advisory Board for the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge and a Deputy Lieutenant for Surrey.



The family business sector is a vital cog in the UK’s economic machine. A very significant employer of approximately 12 million people, a major contributor to the Chancellor’s coffers and the country’s overall GDP annually; its importance cannot be underestimated.

However, it is not just nationally, or even economically, where the sector plays, arguably, its most important role. Its presence within its local communities, as an employer, investor, supporter or representative is hugely significant. It is at the forefront and driving forward business communities and organisations right across the country, championing the role of industry and enterprise at a local and national level. This is fundamental in ensuring the sustainability and future for many regions within the UK.

The hugely influential and important role of the family business sector makes it even more crucial that they can survive and prosper. Succession planning is hard, no matter what the sector, but with family businesses sometimes the options can be restricted. However, with less than a quarter of businesses surviving beyond third generation, finding the successors is clearly a challenge. This is where communication, understanding and flexibility are paramount.

As the winds of change continue to dominate the political, economic and social landscape in the UK, the family business sector, old and new, remains a constant. It does continue to grow and thrive, while maintaining a focus on sustaining our local, regional and national communities.

In our latest edition of CANVAS, and within this context, we talk to Tim Wates, Director of The Wates Group, one of the largest private family-owned construction, development and property services companies in the UK. Tim reflects on why and how the business has prospered for 120 years and looks set to still be going strong (and getting more diverse) into the fifth generation.

CANVAS: Family Owned Businesses Edition
Summer 2017

Arts: leading into the future

Arts: leading into the future

The Arts and Culture sector in the UK continues to maintain its place on the world stage, preserving centuries of tradition whilst looking to evolve in the 21st Century and beyond. It is a sector that continues to experience a number of challenges, particularly in face of greater austerity and huge pressure to engage and excite audiences time and time again. Flair and creativity are still centre stage, but entrepreneurialism, digital knowledge and commercial acumen are getting more of the spotlight. With less public funding available and unlikely to return at the same level, many arts and cultural organisations are looking at alternative means of generating financial and commercial support. A huge part of this also is dependent on still engaging with audiences and preserving the autonomy and artistic licence necessary.

The pressure to perform has never been greater right across the sector. At the very heart of these issues is the question of leadership and the style and approach needed to succeed and nurture talent today.

In our latest issue of CANVAS (Arts and Culture edition) Roger Wright, CEO of Snape Maltings (formerly Aldeburgh Music) provides his perspective on what leadership needs to deliver, and what can and should be ‘let go of’ to drive the sector forward.

Read it here

Brexit - in search of a road map

Brexit - in search of a road map

The past months have been characterised by change and uncertainty. One thing has remained constant throughout: the UK’s exit from, and the development of a new relationship with, the EU are critical issues for institutions and organisations across all sectors. In the aftermath of the referendum, industry leaders, not-for-profit, arts and higher education directors, politicians and civil servants have begun to outline its impact. The path ahead is a long and dangerous one; the map is, at best, unclear.

While the intentions of the various fellowtravellers have started to become clearer in recent weeks, there are still many more questions than answers. Even what emerging clarity exists is subject to constitutional, practical and political challenge. However, the effects of the Brexit vote are already being felt, and organisations are understandably keen to understand, respond to, and influence the debate. The UK Government is already consulting with key players such as trade bodies and leaders in each sector to find out what their priorities are.

While Saxton Bampfylde cannot begin to formulate answers to the questions that lie ahead, we are advising our clients in developing their capacity in critical areas: identifying individuals who can help organisations understand the issues and lead in the formulation of strategies and responses as this journey gets underway.

Download our Brochure: Brexit: in search of a road map

If you would call with our team to discuss how Saxton Bampfylde can help your organisation we would be delighted to speak with you - contact Kate Ludlow.

Beyond the stock market: Prosperity of the family and alternatively-owned business

Beyond the stock market: Prosperity of the family and alternatively-owned business

The rate of change in today’s working environment is phenomenal. Mass digitalisation, increased globalisation and an ostensibly fragmented political and economic backdrop necessitate it. One of the most obvious products of this change, is also one of the fundamental drivers in moving it forward – the ‘millennial’ generation workforce. A highly educated, talented and more questioning generation than has gone before them, they look for greater meaning in their work, what it can do for them and how to create a life beyond their jobs.

This presents a real challenge to business. It requires employers to think more effectively and creatively about how to harness the energy and drive that this generation brings to the marketplace, and consider how to sustain that in the long term to benefit both people and organisations.

Alternative models of business, such as employee and family owned, partnerships or shared enterprises can greatly enhance an employee’s sense of ownership and helps to promote an harmonious and beneficial relationship. These models typically offer an opportunity to take a longer-term view in contrast to those constrained by shareholder reporting in the stock market. The millennial generation has much value to add, but is also keen to be recognised and to reap benefit in the long term.

In our latest issue of CANVAS (Family and Alternatively-owned business edition), we provide insight from an event which recently took place at the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and involved three champions of employee owned business, including Saxton Bampfylde. The topic for the panel-led event was ‘Partnership, Purpose and Productivity’.

We will consider what is the key to productivity and prosperity and how to engage the current and future generations of employees to deliver and strive on a daily basis.

The alternatively owned business sector is demonstrating real innovation and flexibility and delivering impressive results. For this, it is attracting interest at an unprecedented level. 

Read it here

EOA Conference 2016 - An update

EOA Conference 2016 - An update

Saxton Bampfylde Partners spent an enjoyable two days at the EOA's largest ever annual conference, joining over 600 delegates in Birmingham. It was great to see such a broad range of organisations, some of which are considering making the transition to employee ownership and others that are already on that journey. It was a good reminder of the cross sector appeal of this structure as attendees included leading social services providers, public sector mutuals, professional services, manufacturing, and retail and consumer market leaders.

While speakers agreed that we were approaching the end of what has been a tumultuous year politically and economically, they remained upbeat. Members were energised by the belief that the Employee Ownership model offered a strong solution to challenges around work force engagement, ethical business, innovation and long term success.

Trustee Andy King joined a panel exploring the roles and responsibility of the trustees and elected representatives. He shared our experience of establishing our governance structure and learning from the ongoing development of the trustee’s role as we continue on our journey as an EOB. 

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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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