Directors need training too

Disasters such as those at Equitable Life and Marconi obviously cost us dearly. But, possibly more important, so too does a general under-performance in all companies.

One of the problems is that new directors are simply thrown in at the deep end. And senior management is different in many ways from middle management.

Normal professional qualifications do not equip you for the responsibilities of being a director. But don’t panic, help is at hand.

The Institute of Directors runs a qualification, launched in 1999, called the chartered director.

I was invited to give it a test drive by sitting a mock version of the examination.

I am happy to report (particularly to my chairmen) that I passed. But it was far from a pushover. It was a good test. There is a sample for anyone interested at exam.

The syllabus covers the role of the director, finance, strategy, business performance, marketing, leading change, organisation and people. A pretty comprehensive set of subjects – I could not think of any major omissions.

Candidates have the option of studying or not (if they are confident in their knowledge) so preparation is pretty flexible. And the IoD has the courses available for those who want them.

As with most professional qualifications, candidates are required to demonstrate experience, as well as passing the exam, so the qualification actually means something.

I think this will catch on. Nomination committees will demand it in candidates and directors will be better qualified. The world will be a better place.

And all you aspirant directors now know where to go.

  • Neil Chisman is a director of several companies and former FD of Stakis

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