Issue 19 of Criticaleye’s award-winning business publication, the Review, will be hitting your desk and coffee tables soon. A conglomeration of the past six months of Criticaleye’s best pieces of research and content, the Review, is a must read for any high-level executives or non-executive directors.
The past six months have seen much change in the UK and world economies. When you last received a copy of Criticaleye’s publication, the recession was in full effect and unemployment figures were constantly rising. As we send out this issue, the UK has officially climbed out of recession and last week there was a surprise fall in unemployment. These green shoots are all signs that a recovery is underway albeit as experts predict it will be a long, slow recovery.
The world of financing has gone through much change in this post-recessionary world. The money that was being thrown around before the financial crisis is still widely unavailable to most. The lack of cash and debt, and constrained financing, has been a widely discussed topic in the Criticaleye Community.
The Review offers rare insight into the often varying worlds of financing from those that know best and how they are dealing with the now uncertain world.   
In Variant Viewpoints – Private Equity versus Public Management Teams  Mark Prince, Managing Director of Jacuzzi UK, shares his experience of going from a publicly listed company to an organisation owned by private equity.  Tim Farazmand, Managing Director, Deal Origination, LDC, gives advice on how to deal effectively with private equity houses.

"My overall message for the public to private leader: dust off the strategy books - these people understand long-term value drivers," says Mark.
Launched just over 14 years ago, the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) has been an attractive arena for growing companies, many of which are exiting from private equity deals. Due to its light-touch regulatory framework and substantial tax benefits, AIM has become a very popular market. In AIM: Retail Investors Curse or Opportunity? Criticaleye spoke to four AIM executives about the ideal mix of retail and institutional investors, and short- vs long-term investors. Investor strategy is as unique as the organisation itself.
Ian Bowles, CEO, Allocate Software plc, whose stock is primarily owned by institutions, strongly believes that shareholders should be aligned behind corporate strategy. “It is vital that the strategy is continuously presented to shareholders so their support in the organisations persists,” he says.  
The public sector is expected to go through much upheaval following the general election and the subsequent changes in government (and perhaps even a new party in power). Sir Brian Bender, a former Permanent Secretary, who spent 10 years at the top of the civil service, and a Criticaleye Associate, shares the key lessons he learned working for government for 35 years.
Throughout his time in government, Sir Brian had to deal with much change that was often unexpected. Leading through change can be difficult, not only on management but also on staff. Sir Brian gave these recommendations for effective leadership during transformation, in the article Lessons in Leadership: Learning from 10 years at the top of the civil service.
  • Ensure makeup of the top team is right.
  • Encourage confident leaders rather than ‘victim’ leaders.
  • Celebrate success, to build pride and spread good practice and ensure lessons are learned when things go wrong.
Concerning managing the public sector through these times of immense transition, Sir Brian says, “The next few years will call for strong leadership in the public sector, driving efficiency, prioritising clearly and making savings without damage to key policies and services.”  
Like Sir Brian, after retirement many executives decide to take on a plural career. In The Curious Role of the NED Criticaleye’s Associates provide a guide for business leaders seeking out a non-executive directorship. Obtaining a NED position in either the public or private sector can be difficult without any prior experience or the right guidance.
“Think through your CV and application for the job. It is important to stand out the first time,” says Genie Turton, a former senior civil servant who now sits on the boards of both private and public organisations. Like job-hunting, getting a NEDship can involve a fair amount of rejection. The group warned not to be put off by this and provided their top tips for aspiring NEDs:
  • Ask yourself what you want to do and what you want to get out of the role
  • Do a substantial amount of due diligence
  • Start the process when you are still an executive
  • Do something that really interests you
  •  Avoid being the ‘token’ person on the board
This is just a sample of the invaluable information featured in the Review. Many of the articles can also be found online on the Insights pages.

Please get in touch if you have any comments about the issues in today's update.

I hope to see you soon,