Wednesday 7 May 2008

interviewing ,Burma , becoming old and talent.

An uneventful bank holiday meant I read a book! Anita Brookner - 50p and bought off the hospice stall outside the library in Charlbury. The Bay of Angels ; I finished it off on the train back to London and left it on my seat ; a random act of kindness . I wonder who picked it up and is reading it now? I guess my staff are thankful I was reading Anita rather than on my blackberry...

Tuesday and I am interviewing for the Chair of the FBE Investment Committee....5 brilliant people , top of their professions ...I guess I better say no more as at least one of them said they had read my blog! But these were people from the very top of the commercial and investment banking industry. Rockpools , the search company , have really found us quality. When you are running a body that will be playing a major role in the sector's capacity building you need to have the best on your governance board. And we shall.

Bizarrely I read that we are being criticised ( just 4 weeks into our contract ) for encouraging a "sub prime " market ! As the rule for investment by FBE ,since it was set up 3 years ago, is only to invest in non bankable projects , this seems an interesting redefinition of the term , or perhaps a misunderstanding of the role . Or , heaven forbid , a bit of mischief ? But we shall deal with this by making appointments to our Investment Committee of real experts in investment and venture capital. They probably do understand sub prime.

But then its off to the Gym . I have now joined up to the Oasis centre in Holborn . A great facility , with wonderful outdoor pool run by Greenwich Leisure - a third sector organisation . Of course the Ayatollahs of the sector would probably turn their noses up at me calling them " third sector" as they were a spin off from the local authority but they have transformed leisure centres in London from the dreadful facilities run by staid and tired local authorities into well used and customer friendly organisations.
Amusingly when I signed up for the Gym the lady on the desk spotted my date of birth and asked ," was I over 55 ?". And when I said yes she told me , "oh well , you qualify for the older person discount then" .So there you have it...I'm officially an old person . Still i get in half price so am I complaining . Bring on the free bus pass I say.

Lunch at the Atheneum today with an old friend , the General Secretary of the FDA , the trade union for the senior civil service . He is the Permanent Secretaries Convener , so we have a good gossip and mull over the political runes. And , as old people do , we muse on our health !
I reckon I deserve a good lunch after a meeting with all my staff at acevo . I tell them we need to be focusing on the bottom line , and making a profit. Only if we make profit can we develop services for our members .Too many sector bodies think profit is a dirty word . I want it . And in spades. And I have no doubt my team will deliver it. As a group of staff I could not hope for a brighter , more talented bunch . We may only be 30 ( with a bunch of itinerant interns too ) but the output and the delivery of acevo is second to none. As a CEO I am intolerant of inefficiency and incompetence but I believe in developing and promoting talent. A great example of this is in the front page story on Third Sector today. It was something my new policy guy developed and he is quoted. Ralph Michell...remember the name. He is heading for stardom .A First from Oxford.A fierce intellect. An inquiring mind and a maturity beyond his years: yet another star in the bright firmament that is acevo.
And then onto the Board of the Adventure Capital Fund which I chair.Its a great Board , though not one of the shy and retiring. But I believe in firm time keeping and keeping to the point so we are finished in time for me to get home for The Archers.

But a sad night . 100,000 dead in Burma . Perhaps more. This is a disaster ,but what makes it more appalling is the behaviour of the evil group of generals who run their brutal dictatorship and whose interest in the welfare of the people is not as important as their own survival .They will rot in hell but in the meantime people die .I have many friends in Burma , in the Anglican Church there. I have been there on several occasions ; the last time for the Enthronement of the current Archbishop of Burma when I even got arrested for being in a prohibited place. My mother is trying to get information about the people we know but there is practically no communication out of the country . We don't know the state of the casualties , or whether the Churches have survived. A marvellous people who we must help.

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