Saturday 25 July 2009

What a week....

One of the more lovely aspects of Charlbury are the Saturday coffee mornings. Today it was the Royal British Legion and I emerged with a splendid Victoria sponge ( free range eggs naturally ) and pot of home made marmalade. And back to the cottage for the mid morning croissant : purchased from The Good Food Shop . I'm recovering from a pretty heavy week ,and this is the place to be !

Funny who you meet on trains . returning from my dinner with M.Hugues Sibille I bump into My Lord the Bishop of London , the magnificent Richard Charteris. We recalled that indeed the last time we met was also on a train ! He was engrossed in Boswell's life of Johnston , in preparation for a Lecture in Litchfield. I took the opportunity to invite him to speak at one of our faith special interest group meetings . In acevo we have various such groups that bring together CEOs from various sectors ; others include sustainability and health.

He accepted with alacrity . I explained that in acevo we do these things in a civilised fashion over a lunch or dinner.

Rushing from the train Iwent straight to the Commons where I was meeting Yvette Cooper , the new SoS for DWP. An entirely charming and dedicated MP she makes a worthy successor to the marvellous James ( who I hear was asking after me recently ). We had a long discussion ;interrupted by 2 votes, .about how the third sector can play an ever increasing role in employment services ,especially with the impending crisis on youth unemployment. We talked about the new initiative being launched on Wednesday and how CEOs can be galvanised to play a part . I am also getting a group of senior CEOs together for a round table so we can discuss all this in more detail. We talked for so long I'm afraid I was 15 minutes late for the Board meeting of Futurebuilders , or the Social Investment Business as we are to become. I have a marvellous Board , full of talented and distinguished people . And of coure that means you get a lively debate on issues . No chance this Board will be bamboozled or led. They want to be clear on our vision and direction . There was a lot to discuss and we ran over our allotted time ; which meant the dinner which followed was somewhat delayed. Part of our discussion was on a recent Board and Chair appraisal . You will be pleased to know that my own appraisal appeared to be rather good . That was a relief.

Wednesday evening saw a grand dinner to mark the retirement of the current Chair of the RNIB ,Lord Low. As it was in the BT Tower at their revolving restaurant this was indeed a treat . And I had an interesting discussion on our sector and its strengths and foibles with Sir Mike Rake , BT CEO. Colin Low is being succeeded by Kevin Carey who I know well as he sits on my Futurebuilders Board. Kevin has progressive views on governance , paying trustees etc and I overheard him expounding these to Stuart Ethrington . This will have been good for Stuart!

And talking of Chairs , I had lunch with my previous Chair John Low at a new Conran restaurant in Fleet St , " Lutyens ". We were lunching with Jonathan Lewis , CEO of Futurebuilders and one of the sector's rapidly rising stars. We were talking about how we cooperate and build our sector and how we can promote partnership working in a sector that sometimes prefers the opposite.

I am one of the Judges for the Charity Times Awards and we met on Thursday to decide on the winners , to be announced in September at a sparkling dinner at the Grosvenor. I had to miss the lunch as I was due at a round table organised by the CDFA to talk about a campaign for a Community Reinvestement Act. A cause dear to my heart . it must be linked to the demand for a Social Investment Bank . The meeting was joined , by phone from the Middle East , by Sir Ronnie Cohen , the esteemed founder of the concept of venture capital . He made the point it is now 9 years since the recommendations of the Commission on Unclaimed Assets and little has been achieved .Time for action was his message . And a message it is time the Government heard.

But much of the week was taken up in the day to day management of acevo , meetings of Directors , sorting notty staffing issues , and trying to resolve problems and dilemmas . The sort of stuff that rarely graces the pages of my Blog , though are the life blood of any sector CEO. And often the more problematic. But the weekend beckons and I must return to the Hound for her morning romp in the Mill Field. Gathering strength for the week ahead!

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