Former Danish investment banker, Charlotte Valeur, is an internationally renowned and highly experienced Non-Executive Director and Chair who is committed to increasing levels of good governance globally through value-based leadership. Always destined to live and work abroad she admits, at the age of 22, Charlotte transferred from Denmark, her home, to London with the bank she was employed with at the time and has remained there ever since. Raised by an adoring father who encouraged and supported all of her choices, his words of advice have been key to her every success: “Jump life before life jumps you.” In this episode, Charlotte reminds that everything that happens to us in life is based on our personal decisions and no one else’s.
Intrigued by the behaviour of people, Charlotte studied psychology when she took some time off work when she had her children. It is these soft skills, paired with her innate knowledge of investment banking, that have set her apart in the Boardroom. Charlotte has extensive Board level experience with IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, and restructuring, and her portfolio of sectors range from construction, infrastructure, renewable energy, private equity, property, finance/investments/debt, higher education and the third sector. When she entered the world of Board governance, she had a feeling that the overriding principles of best practice were the same, no matter the country or the organisation. From Board composition, to risk management and oversight, to stakeholder engagement, she found from her lived experience that the principles were in fact the same.
When Charlotte first stepped into the Boardroom, she was alarmed that she was the only woman most of the time. Male Board members would justify the polarisation by saying there were no women with Board experience. This motivated Charlotte to establish Board Apprentice Ltd, a not for profit organisation that collaborates with Boards, governments, academia, the third sector and businesses in many different countries to achieve greater equality, diversity and inclusion for women and minority groups.
Today Charlotte is Non-Executive Director for Liang O’Rourke and NTR plc, Chair for Blackstone Loan Financing Ltd and FSN Capital GP and Advisory Board Member for several organisations. When she first began chairing some 15 years ago, the appalling slow pace of governance implementation shocked Charlotte. Following the 2007, 2008 and 2009 financial crises, and now COVID, she confidently says we are witnessing a push for better governance and leadership.
Hear about Charlotte’s upcoming book, why her Autism diagnosis has in many ways made her a better Board member, and the benefits of her many transferable skills.
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Claire Braund 0:04
and welcome to making it real with Claire braund.
Unknown Speaker 0:07
founder and executive director of women on boards. Each episode clear digs deep with exceptional leaders and directors about their journey and all things governance to inform, inspire, and entertain you. were available on most listening apps. So if you like us, please remember to rate us and subscribe. Refer to the show notes for further information about women on boards. And this week's guest. Enjoy.
Claire Braund 0:38
Welcome back everybody to in conversation with clear. And today we're in for a very special treat. We go overseas, we go to the UK will jersey to be specific. And we're talking to a very special friend of one Charlotte Villa, who of course lives over over there and is extremely well known. She's a former Danish investment banker, but now a highly experienced non executive director and chair and Charlotte was had agreed to become the keynote at the women on boards 2020 conference, which sadly due to COVID, we had to cancel, but it's absolutely wonderful to be able to catch up today with Charlotte. Hello.
Charlotte Valeur | 1:21
Hi. Hi, thank you so much for having me. That sounds really delighted to be talking to you today.
Claire Braund 1:27
Yes, what would have been lovely, of course to host you over here. We were very excited.
Charlotte Valeur | 1:34
I had my honeymoon in Australia. Yes. So we went I was four months pregnant, actually. And this is now 21 years ago. But I enjoyed it a lot. It was really, really lovely. And it seems it seemed quite easygoing. So I felt sort of at home being Scandinavian, I think that you have a nice sort of slightly more laid back way of doing things than that what I experienced in the UK why I have lived for the last 30 years.
Claire Braund 2:05
So why the UK you were obviously born in Denmark, a proud Danish citizen and digital University there. And in fact, had your earliest jobs there, I think in the banking sector.
Charlotte Valeur | 2:18
Yeah, it was, you know, since I was very young, I always had this huge drive to go and live in another country. And I used to as a young girl, just look up at the airplanes, and I had this, you know, butterflies in my stomach that I guess needed to be on that aeroplane. So it was almost like, Am I born with that drive? I don't know, I was I was destined to to leave Denmark and go and work somewhere. So I started applying for jobs abroad. When I was 22. And I've I've through the bank, I was saying I had been for 10 years in a Danish bank, not a year. And in the end, I got offered a job in their London office and transferred over and I never came back.
Claire Braund 3:02
Goodness me because of course you've still got family there. You're a high flyer Even then, obviously. But your parents and your families stay there. Nobody else follows you.
Charlotte Valeur | 3:14
No one followed me know, everybody stayed behind. And they're still there. Except for one Auntie I have in America. She left early for I think at about 20. She left for Italy, lived there for 30 years and then moved to America. And when I left within Mike's he said to me, You will never come back. I said no, no, I'll just go out for a few years and come back. She said, I tell you once you're out you will never come back in two years. Right.
Claire Braund 3:39
And that your father was a strong role model in your life. I have read because you lost your mother when you were quite young. Yeah, she and he obviously really believed in, you know, education, high flying, letting the girls go. Because you've gone on to really have a stellar career.
Charlotte Valeur | 3:57
It's interesting. It's so so my dad was a butcher. And came from humble background. He then went on to study further to become the nice word. He was like an expert in rationalizing in companies making things simpler. And he always just encouraged us to, to, to do what we wanted to do. But he wasn't judging. If we wanted to do things that wasn't, you know, according to, to what he would like to see as I was really left very much to be who I am. The one thing he did say always was jump life before life jumps you. Right? And that that still comes with me. You can let life just happen to you. Or you can hold on to the steering wheel yourself. And I chose to hold on to the steering wheel on the words that he gave me and the way that he was because it's easy. It's actually we make decisions every single day. And when you get out of bed to make a decision. I want to brush your teeth. I'm not going to cross your T's it doesn't feel Like the seasons, but they're all decisions. But some people then allow other people to make decisions for them, or life if you want that. But that's also a decision, not making decisions is also a decision, right? And I think we just need to be mindful that it's not someone else's fault. What happens to us, it's our decision.
Claire Braund 5:21
That's really interesting, particularly in the context of where you've forged much of your career now, which of course, is around governance. But there's a bit of psychology in there, Charlotte.
Charlotte Valeur | 5:31
Yes, I do enjoy psychology. So I took three years out to to have two children, my first two children, and it's just my mind needs some intellectual stimulation. So I started studying a degree in psychology, I just find people's minds very interesting and why people behave the way they do. So, throughout my life, I just spent a lot of time observing, I was a very quiet child, I was almost not verbal until I was 10. I just didn't speak very much because I was much happier just observing. Much later, of course, I realized that I'm autistic. But that was only five years ago. And that probably played into the fact of why I didn't speak so much as a child.
Claire Braund 6:15
Okay. So it really is interesting. The investment banking, of course, is often the thing that people would, would say, would put you at the forefront of, of headhunters minds when it comes to, you know, being footsie 250 companies. But actually, it's a transferable skills out of psychology, that, I suspect may well stand you in good stead as a chair, because you do pick a chair quite a number of boards. So can you comment on whether it's the investment banking, which is not renowned, I don't think it's kind of sort of soft skill area you grew up. But yeah, it enabled you to be a better chair.
Charlotte Valeur | 6:57
So I think that's a combination here. So I started as a stock exchange trader back in the 80s. When I was in my 20s, and I sat through like the 87, crashed on the floor of the stock exchange, trying to price up things. It was it was, I mean, the yapi years, we've been lucky to go through some decades of very interesting, but but prosperous, or what we saw as prosperous times as opposed to where we are now where everything looks a bit bleak. But but you learn to be hard, it was like a jungle, everybody eats everyone. But I love that. It just worked for me, we've all kind of different people, and everybody was accepted for who they were, it's just a question of the bottom line shows the money, you make the money, your staff, nothing else counts. And even though I was one woman out of several 100 people, it didn't really I didn't even notice that I was just in it and enjoying myself. When I went down to two boards, it was something completely different vibe. It was actually a world that seemed very, very strange to me, in that it didn't feel as if it was your knowledge that gave you credit. It was your connections. And, and I was never super strong on connections, because I didn't see the logical value of of, of sort of sucking up to people, if you're caught, excuse me my language. It's so I never really did that. And I don't do that. And that could be due to being autistic. It's not something it's not, it's just not something I engage in. What it seems to be what makes the world go round in certain circles. And, and that would work a bit against me. But what I did at the same time, I found that that sort of conflict resolution skills would be very important when you want to share things and I started sharing things very early on when I started 15 years ago, people said Oh, you're too young to do the SMSF Well, you know, I'm here so we change the subject. And I then became a mediator or why didn't mediator course to become an accredited mediator? Because those conflict resolution skills, actually, I think, definitely all chairs, possibly all board members would really benefit from from being able to de escalate conversations and take people on this journey into a place where we can all agree things I'm very consensus driven. Probably partly from my upbringing in Scandinavia where generally people are very consensus driven. But also I you know, we can all be dictators, but I just don't enjoy it. I enjoy when I can make people come along with me of their own free will
Claire Braund 9:47
you really big you've really forged a career around the governance, advisory and corporate governance which really is is the bring thing that you bring, of course, aside from your technical market knowledge Has worse governance gone? Since you become since she became a non executive director? Do you think there's been improvements? Do you think we've gone backwards? Do you think it's impacted by COVID? Positive or negative or a bit of both?
Charlotte Valeur | 10:18
It's, it's very interesting, because when I did start 15 years ago, I thought, gosh, this is a really slow moving train. I mean, this is me coming from dealing rooms, right? where everything happens really fast at a high pace for like, 12 hours a day. And I came into this sitting in endless meetings and listening to things and I think in this governance business, was that ever going to change? But then it actually did start changing. So I started back in Oh, six, and then I thought, okay, you know, we had the crisis, and people started questioning, you know, why certain decisions were made at board level. And as I got deeper into it, you could see that there was a need to have a much stronger business rationale behind many of the decisions, and also that it needed to look in a much broader way. So I would say the last five years, this slow moving train has started moving pretty fast. And actually, to the degree where there will be some countries that can't fully embrace what is happening in terms of moving over to the whole stakeholder governance and having to look at the purpose, having to look at the impact you have, both on the planet and and socially. And, and that's something that's very new for many of the directors that was sort of came into it in the last century. And I think many of those that are thinking, you know what, this is just not super interesting, the whole diversity discussion, right? Is has really moved on the last five years, especially, I mean, I've been in equality shield, since I was very, very young, it's always been a big thing for me that we are all equal as human beings, nobody's over anyone else. But again, when you enter the boardroom, you realize that that's kind of just not the case. So to try to implement that in the boardroom, as well has been an interesting journey, things are moving COVID, I was hoping would make people think, excellent, we are all part of the one. So if you do something bad to someone else, you do something bad to part of yourself. And when we destroy the planet, we destroy part of ourselves, it should be it's quite logical that that's how it goes. But that's not how people act, they act, many people act as if they can do whatever bad they want to do, and nothing happens to them. And I think slowly with a virus, for example, I mean, while we can build walls to keep people out, but that doesn't stop the virus, it also doesn't stop climate change, right. So literally the last five years, the conversations has, has changed in the boardroom. And then we have Black Lives Matters in the summer. And that catered another kick as well. So to make any change happen, you need a sense of urgency. So the first, the first financial crisis, we had back in sort of seven, or eight or nine was first kick into, okay, some urgency to change over time special for financial institutions. And then one thing after the other has been pushing to increase the urgency for for better governance for better leaders that can think in a much broader way. So I think absolutely things has changed. And I think for the better. We have to think longer, you know, around by ability to discuss what's the viability of the organization for next three to three to five years, not just what, you know, going concern for the next 12 months? And then the whole purpose and values? Yes, I think we have changed for the better, but we're in it. Now. We're not it hasn't completely been implemented. Right? But it's being pushed for.
Claire Braund 13:59
Yes, because the issue around stakeholder governance, if you've seen, of course, the David Attenborough series on extinction, which is really alarming. And we look at those and we overlay that with the fact that of course, animals are being pushed so much closer to us. So therefore, the transfer of things like like Coronavirus, is going to continue to happen. And you overlay that with the impacts of climate change typhoons and, and all of those things. And there's almost a sense I think, in the world that some things are out of control. And so big organisations are grappling with those. So what does a classic discussion around stakeholder governance look like? I mean, people really be able to get hold of it and engage with it go Okay, we actually need to turn this big ship around and we need to do it quite quickly, or we're going to hit an iceberg.
Charlotte Valeur | 14:52
Yeah, I think those conversations are not mature enough yet. We're still working on, on on putting Sitting there my head. And this is this is why I think it was. So I was on the board of Ecuador, which is a European, European Organization for European IoT. So Institute of directors in all the different European countries, we were doing a paper around sustainability. And then wanting everybody to sort of sign up to it was interesting was that the Scandinavian countries said, we can't sign up to this. This is what we did 40 years ago, right? This is not ahead. Enough, this is still behind. But of course, it is that in different countries, and I think Australia is pretty good Canada as well, with this, sort of plug in to Scandinavia, and in the terms of sustainability and the understanding of what is needed. We have to find a way where we can get the whole world to drive in the in the right direction, and somehow help help boards to have the right discussions fine. So I've put a book together around what questions to ask in the boardroom. And that was in in, in an attempt to help boards put the right the top 20 key questions into the boardroom, in areas in all areas of boardrooms, like the board composition, risk management, but also sustainability and viability on purpose, to help boards alone, to actually say, okay, we should be asking this question. So what happens? If we do it kind of helps them bring that conversation onto the table, we won't be published until mid next year, because the publisher takes that time. But it will be an open access free to download book, because I just want to see, boards do better, better all over the world?
Claire Braund 16:42
Yes. And that has been a big goal of yours. And that's another reason to why you set up the board apprentice. Can you talk to us about what it is? And what inspired it?
Charlotte Valeur | 16:52
Yes. so supportive mentors really came about a couple of years after I started as, as a board member, on various boards, I was always the only woman. And I'm thinking this is just really long. I mean, surely this can change a lot faster. And what I kept hearing was Oh, but there's no women with board experience. And there's and I'm not so sure. But if that's what you say, is holding us back from doing what we need to do, then what are we doing as a board? What are we as directors doing to remove that barrier? And so I asked a handful of boards, if they would reserve a seat at the table for a year to give someone that board experience that they that they say we don't have. And of course, what is slightly irritating is that, that certain kinds of people don't need board experience to go onto boards, but women do. But anyway, aside from that, what we want to do is open the doors. This is of course not just women leaders in the sort of women and minorities that that currently haven't got access to the boardroom. But open a door by getting the board's actively involved with developing not only for their own success and planning, but for the people in the country that they feed off. Like any organization, if you don't have a country with laws and people in it, you have no organization, right? So that feeds back into the stakeholder governance if you want in that the ultimate stakeholders will always be the people in the world. Because if there's no people, there's nobody, you can make wealth on the back of
Claire Braund 18:31
mine. And it's an interesting concept, because people when they think of investment bankers, which of course you were thinking they're just solely driven by, I suppose a personal interest in wealth, and you're actually putting a different lens, really putting multiple lenses on the way you think about the value you can add as an investment banker.
Charlotte Valeur | 18:56
Yeah, absolutely. But I think that's because I'm very values driven. For me, it's about right and wrong. And then I guess, having experienced investment banking for for 25 years I look at and I could certainly see all the things that was not right. But you know, sometimes you you have to be in, you know, in it to fully understand it. But also, they do a lot of good things. I mean, banking does a lot of good things. It's so we have constructed this thing that's called money, but it has to be managed and some Someone has to do it. It was when it all went a bit sort of off track and and you had traders trading off huge balance sheets that effectively was was you and mine money put into a bank that became the balance sheet that traders was then leveraging, you know, many, many times. And that's how things go wrong is that when we don't keep check on on the sort of whole risk reward principle. But I mean, being an investment banker has taught me a lot about that and I've been In trading risks, because when I took a position of, you know, 10 million or 100 million, that I have an instant risk, even if I don't take a position, I have a risk of losing out right. And on something a trade I should have done. So I see risk as a very moving, moving feed all the time. And that's something I put into the boardroom as well this keen eye on. So how do we assure that the risk management is actually happening, that they actually see all the risks? So there's a lot of advantages from that investment banking background for sure, in the boardroom.
Claire Braund 20:34
And, you know, what, you'd know what questions to ask, I'm assuming,
Charlotte Valeur | 20:40
since I spent two years putting a book together, as well, but also within the investment banking, when I do today's board members was talking with hedging, what does hedging mean? Was derivatives, you know, what are these options? And how does that work? And it was hard for non financial board members non financial in non investment banking, financial, because even accountants will struggle with, with that whole banking piece. And and I guess, I knew that no matter what laws and rules we put in place, bankers will find a way around it, because that's what they do. Some of some of them not, not all of us, right. But some of us will spend our time saying, Okay, so this is low. Now, what can we do about that, and then creating products on the back of it?
Claire Braund 21:27
Well, aside from your banking, type boards and investment, private equity style boards are also non executive director on Lego raw, which is a construction company. But then on the other side of the hand on NTR PLC, which is an asset manager of renewable energy program, project
Charlotte Valeur | 21:48
Claire Braund 21:51
But as I flip sides of, of, I suppose the same coin, or are you totally? Are they really, really separate?
Charlotte Valeur | 21:58
No, they are, in principle sides of the of the same coin, I mean, I'm on a private equity company is when Scandinavia. And again, I mean, they, you know, it's all sides of the same piece, in my view, I can see the patterns that go across, when I started my sort of second career if you want to as within governance that support member and and doing sort of both of us in this, I was thinking, I had a feeling that the overriding principles of governance are the same no matter what organization you're dealing with, no matter what country you're in. So they are global governance principles, that everybody, or best practice, if you want, like, what should the board compensation look like? How should you do your risk management and oversight, what stakeholder engagement, those are the same, the principles of those are exactly the same no matter where in the world you are. But the details of it would be different. But the principles are the same. So I thought, okay, just to back up that notion that I had, in my mind, I wanted to ensure that I was serving on as many different kinds of organizations as possible. So I've been on the board of a university of charities of construction companies of lending companies of renewable energy. I mean, the breath I just like, of the IoT is a membership organization, the principles are all the same. And I can now say that with confidence, and, you know, with lift experience, and that was really quite important to me, because people kept saying, oh, but this is this kind of company. So we're doing very different governance. And I'm just thinking, I hope not, because the principles are the same, but underneath it, guess. So when that sort of high level book around what's the top 20 questions to ask, there could be one book to say what to ask in a construction company. Right? That could be a whole separate book, just going over in all the specific areas. What should you be clear on me? Langer rock is quite big in Australia, as well as the UK. So those are the two. So the two countries that they do their main sort of infrastructure projects and, and, and again, each project would have its own governance of what should you see being asked in the project to ensure at board level that you get the right feeding off? So it all comes together, interestingly,
Claire Braund 24:21
and the charity sector because you have you do have an interest in that as well because of course the board apprentice is a nonprofit as I understand it. Yeah, and the I was a member based body so I'm assuming that was
Charlotte Valeur | 24:36
a not for profit member baseball hitters. Indeed. Yeah. Yeah, no, they are. They are both not for profit organizations. And again, even though you say not for profit, it doesn't mean people shouldn't be paid for the time they do. So I think most successful not for profits become successful because they are able to put together a way people's time, or certain people's time get paid for. And then you have a whole group of volunteers. But the pay for people also have volunteer management and engagement, to ensure that everything runs certain things, you just have to pay for having things done to make sure they get done. So for photo printers, for example, we we had to restructure ourselves a couple of times, since we started in 2013. And we are now social franchise, so too, so we have a concept that works well. And that is now tried and tested. And we'd like to see, we'd like to see that in all. So we can set up in any country within a few months with anyone who wants to be a franchise holder of border fences. And there's no startup costs. In fact, I did speak to some people in Australia, some states around setting a group up for indigenous people, I believe you're given them their lands back. But that has to be in the company. So you want to make sure that that that you can develop board members to serve on those boards that are from the indigenous background as well. And that border plains is lends itself very well. to doing that,
Claire Braund 26:13
yes, that is a very interesting question. That is a very interesting issue because self governance in the indigenous space with land councils and things as been, as in their areas, issues in relation to, you know, the the appropriation of funds and where monies have been sent. And governance has been a bit of a problem for some. So I think if you've got a model a quite often organized quite often groups or organizations are sort of given access to large resources, without any principles around governance with which that's been part of the problem.
Charlotte Valeur | 26:53
Yeah, and that's, and you can have some quite simple governance procedures to put in place or frameworks. That just keeps it safe, right?
Claire Braund 27:01
Yes, yes, yes. Now, what I really want to ask you about is what looks like your very first board role. And I'm not even going to try to pronounce it because it's in Danish, but you were the chair of a Rottweiler specialist club.
Charlotte Valeur | 27:21
So I had a Rottweiler myself, and I was training it as a puppy. And I liked it so much that I set up a club. So I found it and and chaired a Rottweiler club for five years, starting when I was 19. If I don't do things halfway, right. We basically trained Rottweilers and their owners in the police program to like search and God and attack and stuff like that. And it was marvelous. I liked it a lot. But then I ran out of time in my business. Yeah. Do you still have Rottweilers? No, I have a Great Dane funny that I have an I have a Great Dane and to DAX on so yeah, little enlarge.
Claire Braund 28:08
There's no dash and and Great Dane training club on jersey that you're sort of secretly chair or something?
Charlotte Valeur | 28:15
No, no, no, no. In fact, I haven't tried them at all. It's very bad. But they're, they're good. I think if you have a Rottweiler, you do need to train them where the great things are so gentle in their own way. And, and the taxis are so small that it's limited how much damage they can do. But I did go on to chair I was the chair of the pupil organization, then my school of 13. And on the on the Board of Governors then representing the students. So I guess I started quite early on on boards.
Claire Braund 28:50
Yes, and you've done lots of advisory panels and things as well. I noticed you're on the Hampton Alexandra review. Talk to us about a little bit about because I think the gender balance thing has really shifted on in. You're exactly right. People are looking for different types of diversity, particularly the on boards. Is that the top or not yet?
Charlotte Valeur | 29:11
Yeah, so the conversation has definitely shifted into it now. I mean, the end goal with with gender balance, I think we need to sort of change the words a little bit I like to see sort of diversity policies with regards to gender be talking about men and women balance in terms of its I would on my horse, we have 40% of either gender, minimum 40% either gender, it's not 40% women because if you say 40% women, do you say 60% men? Yeah, so I think we have to be clear that is stop being so women focused and once we still are women focused, but focus on the end goal is parity. And so our language to talk about parity to get people used to talking about the balance and the parity. So that's the gender piece with ethnic minority, I think when a country wants to take people in, and be sort of ethnically diverse, they have to respect those people enough to allow them access to all level of the society. And that's just not what's happening. I don't think that's right. For me, you look at the percentages of ethnic diversity you have in the country, and you should have the same percentages in all levels of society. And you should aim to do that quite naturally. But I think, again, this is where the cognitive development is happening around the world in that we move from the levels where we need to understand why we should have diversity, and then up to the levels where that's just not a question we ask anymore, because we know, we are developed enough in our thinking to know and understand why we should have it. So the only questions we ask is, how do we get it. And that's, that's an important shift. And that shift, I have feeling I have in the board, certainly that I work with, both for board reviews and everything else. And when people want to go in and say oh, but why I don't have the patience for that anymore. I just want to talk about how they can go and Google it, as loads of research, everything is there for them to take. And actually the institution investors are feeling the same. I was speaking in an ISS, which is one of the proxy companies here. Event recently an institutional investors there were saying, they now see that for boards that are not diverse, they will consider those directors negligent and negligent because they know that that it means that the organization will have you know, two to 4% worse returns. And so it still comes back to returns as well. But on top of that, they are part of creating potential social unrest. They're part of forcing the government in that country to have to put laws in around Cortez and governments prefer to not do that. Let's make that clear. No government wants to do that. The only reason they get forced to is because it's not moving fast enough. And what is so what is the Naked Truth About that, that I'm I'm quite interested in that I'm trying to throw it out there, I'm not getting any good. That's on it. Unfortunately, I think to a degree, we're having a bit of willful blocking going on. And that needs to stop. Because it's it's harming countries and the world.
Claire Braund 32:39
I think it's there's two things about that, I think get to your concept of and the top and the top we had around stakeholder dominance. And the fact that the so called the governance is actually now directly correlated with return was previously it was sort of a you know, it was much more of a side issue. Now, I think that's really much stronger now. And of course, because of social media, because of activism, because of the way we're all globally connected, it has a much greater impact. But the other thing is around around what people are actually doing about it, I think we're also getting clubs. And so people are saying we've got women on the board. But these are the women that we know, there's a bit of that happening as well. And I don't know if organizations are prepared to go outside and steal back the force that they don't know.
Charlotte Valeur | 33:27
Yeah, there was a reluctance to do that. And that's, and that's kind of a shame. But this is my border panties comes in, because actually, they don't mind doing it when they're training or educating someone. In fact, they positively like to see completely different kinds of people. And then of course, once that person has been in the boardroom for a year, the board has had a positive impact as well in that it's almost like field training for them. So So samples take two, for example, my Blackstone board, we're just in the process of taking two apprentices. And we had two before as well, we had a Chinese lady that came from Beijing for the board meetings, and we had a local, a local woman we developed as well. And this time, the board has specifically said that they want you know, ideally local ethnic diversity. Um, so we're looking for that, and we'll take two again. So if you can imagine if you have like an an old white male board, that that suddenly have to, you know, people of color, for example, or any kind of ethnic minority any, you know, all for neurodiversity, or whatever it might be. That's a real learning for them once they don't do anything to learn. It just happens.
Claire Braund 34:41
And that it makes them more attractive, I'm assuming to other boards because they've had this. They've had the training wheels on free with a group like black stone. Yeah.
Charlotte Valeur | 34:50
Yeah, absolutely. So generally the ones once we have a black stone within actually halfway through the placement, the one here became bored. involve another listed company. And she's now taking on another two listed company that literally lifted her into the listed for space. And because he now had that experience, I could say, Yes, I know what's going on, and at least at least at all, because I was on Blackstone, so that absolutely, what the last. So we get feedback from the apprentices we have, we've only had around 100, because that's basically limited by the number of boards who are willing to take, but we could have 1000s of we keep low key because if we go out publicly, or try to push it, we get too many apprentices and not enough boards, right. So so we have 78% of the ones that has come out on our board members. So that's a pretty high success rate, right?
Claire Braund 35:49
phenomenal success rate. And it is the issue about putting them on the radar of those who are doing the looking for boards, but also backing them with the experience and the network, which you spoke about.
Charlotte Valeur | 36:00
Yeah, you get it all in one in one goal. So we have had lots of people say, oh, would you do at this honor? Can you do more of this? Or that? I said, No, we have to just stay true to just the concept of here's a candidate that should be on board, and he has a board that would help get making that happen and match them up. Right? So so we don't do and that's why we should collaborate with anyone else who does anything else, right. Such as, as what what the women a board is doing, for example, helping, helping with the CV helping prepare them all of that stuff? We don't do any of that. And we don't want to do any of that. Because with appetite load the one thing we're doing that we're doing well, yeah,
Claire Braund 36:40
Charlotte Valeur | 36:45
Yes, I mean, I think it's just you've got to, it's too easy to just in governance, there's so many things you could do. What I give them is what we give, give the apprentice as part of it as for our sort of nine webinars that that I deliver online, that go over best practice. And I use 200 questions that I use when I do board reviews, I have 100 basic questions that I've delivered, also developed with, with some Lance's chosen investor as our support of bt pension fund, formerly, and they introduced me to USS and beltane. And we sort of shot this questionnaire around to make sure it covered all of their preferences and expectations, as well as the UK corporate governance code. So I've talked to those 100 questions and why we asked them and why they are important. So what apprentices understand is, what is global best practice, not a specific code, but what I see, as I talked about before, what, uh, what I see as being the best practice you should do, no matter what organization you are, no matter where in the world you are. So they go into the boardroom with that knowledge on top of what they have told themselves before, whatever the courses they've taken, we expect them to be board ready when they come to us pretty much and what they guess is that best practice on top of it, but we don't teach them what a corporate governance code is. If they don't know that they won't, they will be in we got through into us talking about that. And we'll say no, can you go away and learn more about this and this and this and then come back? We don't say no to No, we just tell them where they need to develop.
Claire Braund 38:21
That's really interesting. And I've just got this image in my head Sharma. Villa is giving the concept of the apprentice is so much better name than its head on the global stage.
Charlotte Valeur | 38:34
It was a bit provocative to call the border apprentice, right. Yeah. Most people say, oh, but that's for young people. I said, Well, no, we all learn throughout our life. And if you want to learn at the highest level, you're still an apprentice, right? Learning from the Masters that you're observing.
Claire Braund 38:51
As well shout out there. If I could talk to you all day. It's been such a pleasure from the high flyer on her first board at 13. So clearly, governance was in your blood, I think, again, and the Danish people's loss that you moved over over there. And I do hope that we will continue many conversations in the future. And I'm very much looking forward to providing all of us in Australia and overseas with the link to your top questions to ask because I think that's going to be a best seller. Thanks very much.
Charlotte Valeur | 39:30
Thank you. It's been a real pleasure. And I look forward to speaking to you again.
Women on boards was founded in 2006 by Claire Braun and Ruth med, to support women in board and leadership positions and address gender inequity in the boardroom. With more than 25,000 members in Australia and another 30,000 in the UK. We support women in board and leadership positions by providing a range of research assist support and services. For more information about our services and how we might be able to help you or describe to receive our weekly newsletter, please visit our website at women on boards dotnet. We hope to see you again soon.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai