Alison Gill, a business leader and psychologist, specialising in group dynamics, had co-authored a section of the Walker Report on addressing behavioural issues. While James, a former partner at Norton Rose (now Norton Rose Fulbright), had also helped to shape the thinking in the report based on his experience of dealing with corporate governance issues.
Sir David Walker thought the duo’s different areas of expertise might perfectly complement each other and he wasn’t wrong!
After the two founders decided to form Bvalco, Brian Quinn, formerly acting deputy governor at the Bank of England and an experienced board director and chairman, was appointed as the company’s first chairman.
For two years after Bvalco was first established Alison, James and Brian interviewed just under a hundred chairmen, directors and company secretaries to identify what they wanted from their board reviews and what board effectiveness meant to them.
The resulting methodology places as much emphasis on the culture and values driving decision-making as the formal roles and structures in place. It’s an approach that quickly attracted three leading financial institutions HSBC, Barclays and Santander to appoint Bvalco to carry out their board reviews.
Since then Bvalco has also been invited to carry out board reviews for ABF, BP, JPM Securities and a number of other organisations including building societies and charities.
Given Alison’s background as a triple Olympian for the British rowing team and Brian’s experience as Chairman of Celtic FC, it’s perhaps unsurprising that some sporting organisations – including a premier rugby club and British Rowing – have also chosen to work with Bvalco.
Since those early days, Bvalco continues to lead thinking on corporate governance and board readiness and effectiveness.
Our conversation with a chairman, whereby we interview and share the thinking of individual chairman, continues to prove both popular and thought-provoking and Alison is also involved with helping to create Board Directors of the future through her work as lead tutor for award winning FT Non-Executive Director Diploma. She has recently contributed to a book on The Value of Kindness in Corporate Leadership, is a media commentator and is regularly invited to speak at and facilitate panel discussions at high-profile industry events.
While James recently raised £90,000 for Norfolk’s unpaid carers by ‘Walking4Norfolk’ and completed a prestigious year as High Sheriff of Norfolk, he continues to shape thinking on the best way to encourage boards to use the insights that an effective board review provides. His provocative mantra is: “A board may only be as effective as the CEO allows it to be.”
Bvalco has enhanced its thought-leadership even further with two appointments: Peter Snowdon, who previously worked for the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and more recently was a partner of Norton Rose Fulbright advised a wide range of banks and investment firms on their corporate governance obligations, brings his deep knowledge of issues affecting financial services firms.. While the appointment of Eleanor Evans, a corporate governance lawyer and formerly a FTSE 100 general counsel and company secretary, adds extensive insights into how boards need to prepare for the future with a particular focus on risk, climate and social issues.
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