Meet the boss who wants to find leaders of the future
Guy Munnoch is chairman of the board at Leedsbased financial services provider, Hitachi Capital UK
A typical day for me is dictated by the chronology of my week and the diverse range of businesses that I’m associated with, mainly in a non-exec role.
Currently, I hold senior roles on the board of four companies, and personally run a fifth. After 21 years in the British Army and another 21 in business, I have moved away from the day-to-day demands of chief executive roles to strategic, advisory positions that tend to involve around 30 days a year involvement with each business.
Balancing other roles is a good lesson for juggling competing demands throughout the week.
Today’s focus is with Hitachi Capital UK, a company that is going through a number of exciting changes.
We have just reported strong annual results across our five divisions, and I’m buoyed by the company’s growth in the 20 months since I joined. Hitachi Capital UK has now shown nine years of consecutive growth – a challenge in itself in such a testing and competitive sector, and against a backdrop of general economic uncertainty.
My role on the Hitachi Capital UK board, together with my board colleagues, is to provide strategic leadership, whilst ensuring we have the appropriate level of governance and control arrangements in place to support a growing business like ours, operating in a highly regulated environment.
Arriving at the company offices, I have a packed agenda.
Today, I’ll first be sitting down for a one-to-one catch up with Hitachi Capital UK’s CEO, Robert Gordon, before receiving trading updates and then setting the agenda for the forthcoming board meeting.
I’m a morning person, so am keen to get started. A quick walk of the floor on arrival is an important first step, to get to know people on a personal level.
The role of the modern chairman is evolving rapidly, and it is important to know what is happening across the business.
The personal touch is key for someone in my position, to better understand not just the leadership of the companies I support, but also the culture of the businesses from top to bottom. At Hitachi Capital UK, we have an interesting culture that is UK and Europeancentric, but also draws on the dynamic of our Japanese parent company.
It’s a very particular way of doing things, an interesting balance of professional and personal; driven and respectful. Robert is a figurehead for the company and a real entrepreneur. This is a quality I rate particularly highly, and I like to believe that I bring a touch of that entrepreneurial spirit to my role, too.
Robert and I have a mutual respect and our discussions are always open, forward thinking and intellectual.
We start with some friendly updates and he’s always keen to learn about my latest endeavour. Having already completed various ultra-marathons, the latest last weekend in Bulgaria, my next personal challenge is to row across the Atlantic in aid of Blind Veterans, a charity providing incredible support to ex-servicemen and women. There are four of us and if our team, the Ancient Mariners, make it across the Pond, we’ll be the oldest team to do it by some considerable distance. It’s likely to be a tough two months but rising to the challenge and pushing myself out of my comfort zone is the mantra by which I live.
With Robert, mentoring and challenging works both ways. We discuss upcoming opportunities for the company, deal with some strategic decisions and I look to offer some of my own leadership experience.
I know what a challenging position it can be. Although everyone has different leadership styles, having a vision and taking responsibility for executing it is hugely important.
Next, it’s on to our ideas for the updated board routine.
With Hitachi Capital UK spread across seven locations, we have made the decision to alternate the location of board meetings to allow for more exposure to the senior leadership across the various different business units.
Recently, we held a round table session with 40 of the top talent within the company and I hugely enjoy this part of my role.
This sort of activity gives us fantastic opportunities to meet different individuals within teams.
It’s not just about visibility, exposure works both ways and
I’m keen for us to know who the future leaders of our business are.
The personal touch is key for someone in my position.
GUY MUNNOCH:Chairman of the board at Leeds-based Hitachi Capital UK.