Top IoD Honour for b:ssec’s Executive Chairman, Paul Bennett

Institute of Directors Director of the Year Awards 2016
Paul Bennett, Institute of Directors’ New Chartered Director of the Year 2016

UK Commercial Energy Efficiency Consultancy b:ssec’s Executive Chairman, Paul Bennett has beaten off competition from directors across the UK to become the Institute of Directors’ (IoD) New Chartered Director of the Year 2016. The award recognises excellence of achievement across the IoD’s Certificate and Diploma in Company Direction examinations, and in the final assessment for Chartered Director.

Chartered Director was initiated more than 10 years ago and aims to equip directors with the all-round skills, knowledge and understanding required to successfully direct an organisation from a strategic perspective. Since its inception, thousands of directors worldwide have undertaken the training courses and sat the examinations. In the UK, around 4,000 course places were filled in 2014 alone, and there are now around 1,000 qualified Chartered Directors globally.

Bennett, who is also a Chartered Engineer, became a Chartered Director after 12 months’ of study.  He set up b:ssec in 2005, having identified the growing market for low carbon, low energy buildings and the business quickly grew as demand increased for low carbon designs and property audits.  The speed of the expansion eventually encouraged him to look for ways to broaden his skills base, particularly in areas such as sales and marketing.

Said Bennett: “I initially worked with a business coach which was very useful, but it was someone at an IoD seminar that recommended I look at Chartered Director. To my mind it was an alternative to achieving a fast-tracked MBA for those who already have significant experience, taught by people who themselves have a solid, successful business background. I was also drawn to the prospect of networking with high-flying executives across a ranges of different industries.

“I can honestly say that the experience has transformed our business, particularly in areas such as governance and strategy.  I have restructured the board and brought in non-executive directors to strengthen our financial and marketing expertise. We have also developed a strategic plan for the next three years which I’m pleased to say, we’re on track to deliver. The plan includes unlocking further value from the business through value chains and our supply chains – we’re currently working with a software company and looking to do something similar with an architect.

“Overall, the training has been an immensely positive experience. Energy is a very political and volatile arena to work in – markets and jobs appear and disappear very quickly – so every business within the sector needs to be agile in order to survive. Brexit, of course, has added to the uncertainty and impacted on areas such as investment and spending, at least in the short-term.”

Director training may not yet be compulsory in Britain but it is recommended in the UK Corporate Governance Code and in many other international corporate governance codes (without being prescriptive about the type of training).

Furthermore, the IoD Diploma in Company Direction is a recommendation in the financial services sector in the Channel Islands while full Chartered Director is highly regarded by the Republic of Ireland’s financial regulatory authorities for board positions for the financial services sector.

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