UAE Branch Specific Services
Bespoke International Consultancy Services
Our capabilities have been developed through years of international corporate and consulting experience – providing solutions for the fundamental problems facing our clients in their international operations.
International Marketing Planning
The political, economic, environmental, legal and social structure of a country, along with its level of technological advancement, should be carefully assessed in order to build the synergies that can properly predict and deliver return on investment. We can create a bespoke document with the wealth of practical information and guidance needed to make the all-important leap into a new international market!
Marketing Communications Services
If you would like to know more about how EBC can assist your business with ongoing marketing communications support then please contact us to discuss your requirements.
The English Business Council exists to help make business simpler and more effective – and with our extensive raft of members, contacts and valued associates, we’re best-placed to assist across a great many of the issues and challenges a business is likely to face. This also means we have the ability to advise across a number of the more complex areas where perhaps many business owners won’t necessarily have a great deal of first-hand experience themselves. An item that we’re frequently asked about is Interim Management – what it is and what it can potentially do for your business. We hope you find the following outline helpful.
Help From Someone Who Knows How
Interim Management is the temporary provision of management, resources, and skills via a proven heavyweight – who comes on board to manage a period of transition, crisis or profound change. While it’s true that an Interim Manager can be called upon to supervise the more sophisticated ‘high-end’ activities such as Mergers & Acquisitions, raising investment, specialist project management, or turnaround management, in most cases the Interim Manager is put in place to ‘hold the fort’ until a new manager is appointed or until the company finalizes a key transition. In other words, the Interim Manager is a safe pair of hands in which to park a troubled company until issues can be resolved. While the Interim Manager’s responsibilities vary, in general, he or she is engaged to keep the company working as smoothly as possible, minimizing the impact of a potentially stormy background on key stakeholders and clients.
Another typical use of Interim Management is when the company is going into liquidation (or is in bad debt) and an Interim Manager is brought in to dissolve the company assets, working closely with the accountants or liquidator.
When Is It The Right Time?
An Interim Manager is a ready solution when there is no incumbent ready to take over, or when it is impossible to source a permanent replacement in the timeframe available. It is a key option when the CEO has departed or becomes seriously ill, or when setting out on high-risk activities such as a digital transformation or public floatation – when there may be no equivalent in-house expertise.
Once in place, the Interim Manager – as a result of seasoned experience – will typically not only have a well-structured way of dealing with the Board, senior management and the shop-floor teams but will themselves follow a definable, step-by-step procedure. This will often follow five key stages, namely:
There are several key advantages to bringing in an Interim Manager. For example, he/she can be in place within days, not weeks or months as might otherwise be the case. Interim Managers are often ‘over-qualified’ for the role, epitomizing skillsets not seen elsewhere in the organization and equipping them to ‘ride the storm’ successfully. This also means they can make an impact from Day One – with the experience to ‘read’ the situation and rapidly work on solutions. Other positive factors to consider include:
- The Interim Manager is ‘apolitical’: he or she isn’t bound up in existing company politics, likes or dislikes and can be ‘a breath of fresh air’ in terms of simply tackling the generics and getting the job done.
- To get future work, the Interim Manager depends on strong referrals, so there is a vested interest in making the placement as successful as possible. The Interim Manager is paid on achievements, not simply attendance.
- Interim Managers operate at a very senior level (sub-Board) and have the authority and credibility to make significant changes; they don’t have a ‘fear factor’ and having experienced critical re-engineering before, they generally have the experience to guide management teams and more junior employees through the changes very constructively.
- Alternatively, Interim Managers can replicate the working practices of the now-absent CEO or Managing Director, ensuring the continuity of an environment that everyone feels comfortable with.
If you have any queries about Interim Management or would like to discuss an Interim Management role within your own business, contact David Burns MBE on +971 50 914 4094
The English Business Council is here to help. It’s entirely likely that as a CEO or senior director, you’re looking for new ways to supercharge business growth or achieve a stronger market position – and we’re well-placed to advise on some of the strategies and protocols that can make a real difference to business performance. One of the topics we’re asked about a great deal is the role of the Non-Executive Director: what does he or she actually do and how can this help my business? We hope you find the following explanation helpful and informative.
Part of the Board, not part of the team
First things first. The Non-Executive Director is a member of the Board, but not part of the executive team. So he or she does not engage in day-to-day management but is very heavily involved in policy-making, strategy, and planning.
This is potentially a powerful position – and offers the business very powerful advantages. For example, the Non-Executive Director can monitor the performance of existing directors and act as the direct representative of company stakeholders. He or she is not biased by the culture of the business and its political niceties, but rather, can be an independent voice of reason and expertise – with greater objectivity than an Executive Director is likely to bring.
Yet while they have this ‘umbrella’ role, Non-Executive Directors are still equally liable for the success or failure of the business. This responsibility is outlined in international company law (and has been upheld in numerous ‘test cases’ in both English and UAE courts). Indeed, there can be a greater weight of responsibility on the shoulders of Non-Executive Directors, who can be held to account if they choose not to use their objectivity and greater independence wisely. They will also be expected to exercise four key functions that will often be over and above the scope of Executive Directors. These are:
- Consistently challenging the direction and performance of the company as well as its existing team. The Non-Executive Director is a professional ‘devil’s advocate’, who may well have the knowledge and experience to ask why things are not being done differently – and better.
- Risk management. The Non-Executive Director can encourage policies and protocols that minimize risk, especially in times of transition where other directors may lack hands-on experience. Classic examples would include entry into new markets, major product launches and investment/borrowing scenarios that may risk over-extending the business.
- Ensuring that the needs of stakeholders are met before those of the Executive Directors. This is a crucial role in times of financial shortfall or crisis.
- Objectively looking into the financials and seeing that a) all is legally compliant, and b) checking the figures are real and reflect the ones being worked with and published.
Clearly, these responsibilities are not to be undertaken lightly, and require individuals of considerable seniority and experience – and there is an ‘add-on’ value here. Firstly, it’s great PR: being able to publicize the fact that the business has individuals of this caliber and reputation on board can be a great ‘plus’ and even a competitive advantage. This links to the second benefit: the advantage Non-Executive Directors can offer in the quest for attracting investment. It’s likely that any individual worthy of being nominated as Non-Executive Director will have experience of managing considerable sums of money – perhaps to a greater degree than the rest of the Board. This is a great signal to Venture Capital providers and banks that your business can provide a ‘safe pair of hands’.
Lastly, Non-Executive Directors can play an important ‘mentoring’ role within the business, particularly in respect to C-suite executives – especially the CEO, guiding him or her through the likely pitfalls and encouraging awareness of the ‘bigger picture’ (eg, the implications of up-scaling through M&A activity or borrowing). They can also help foster up-and-coming management talents or teams.
If you have any queries about the role of Non-Executive Directors or would like to discuss Non-Executive roles within your own business – or if you are considering fulfilling the role yourself – contact David Burns MBE on +971 50 914 4094.
The Advisory Board
Have you ever wondered how to bring added-value to your business by attracting individuals who have the experience, seniority, and vision? With a powerful track record of success? Without having to commit to a series of salaries beyond the company’s present means? Creating an Advisory Board can be the answer. The English Business Council exists to help make business simpler and more effective – and we’re pleased to give the following description of how an Advisory Board can be of value in managing and growing your business.
Flexibility is key
Elsewhere on our website, you’ll be able to find out about the important role that Non-Executive Directors can play within your business, in terms of objectively monitoring performance and advising on strategy. Yet while a Non-Executive Director sits within your Board, an Advisory Board is something completely separate. In fact, it has no formal links with your business in terms of company structure and hierarchy at all: an Advisory Board is a purely informal arrangement that can be created and dissolved at will (usually with three months’ notice to incumbent Advisory Directors).
It is also highly cost-effective because it doesn’t involve any standing salary arrangements or equity shares: rather, you pay a simple attendance fee for each Advisory Director – which is usually calculated on the basis of one day of consultancy income. (Note, however, that you should never ask the members of an Advisory Board to take part for free: this degrades both the value of their contribution and the significance of your business and its quest for growth and success).
The Advisory Board has five main functions and advantages:
- It is, above all, a source of ideas and a correcting mechanism that gives shrewd guidance on where the business should be headed and how to get it back on track if it isn’t. It can also challenge the direction and performance of the company as well as its existing team.
- It is a critical second-check on financials. So it can objectively assess the financials and see that the correct regulatory procedures are being followed; are the figures being worked with actually real and verifiable?
- It has a powerful Risk Management role. The Advisory Board can encourage policies and protocols that minimize risk, especially in times of transition where Board directors may lack hands-on experience. Classic examples would include M&A activities and investment/borrowing scenarios that may risk over-extending the business.
- The PR advantage: being able to publicize the fact that the business has individuals of this caliber and reputation on board as Advisors can be a great ‘plus’ – and is easily promoted across the spectrum of social and online media (eg, members of the Advisory Board have their profiles featured on the company website).
- An Advisory Board can be an important advantage when it comes to attracting investment. The maturity, wisdom, and experience of its members is a great signal to Venture Capital providers and banks that your business can provide a ‘safe pair of hands’.
When do I need an Advisory Board?
Typically, the Advisory Board is most useful if your business is an established SME that is now looking to enter a critical growth cycle. A Year One or startup SME is not likely to have the substance or structure to command the time or input of an Advisory Board – while a developed Enterprise-level business will in all likelihood benefit more from the regulated framework of a Non-Executive Director base.
It is also most useful if the business is looking to transition in some way – classic examples would be:
- A move towards an e-commerce platform
- Undergoing a profound Digital Transformation
- Using large investment capital where the Board lacks experience
- Changing distribution channels
- Opening a new office in a different city in the country
For each of these scenarios, an Advisory Board can be hand-picked so as to include the best in the business, with a wealth of specialist skill and knowledge.
How often should the Advisory Board meet?
A good guideline here is for the Board to meet once a month, for a full day. It will be important to block this time in advance and ensure that you can always attend: the meeting is to be treated with the same seriousness as a meeting of the Main Board.
Two points to remember. Firstly, you can contact any individual within the Advisory Board at any time you wish, for ‘snapshot’ guidance and advice (although this may entail an additional fee). Secondly, the composition of the Advisory Board can change along with the evolving needs of the business: for example, a process of Digital Transformation would obviously merit a very heavy weighting towards digital and IT professionals, combined with HR specialists. While for maintaining ‘business as usual’, a board balanced between operations, strategy and finance professionals would be the likely recipe.
If you have any queries about the role of the Advisory Board or would like to discuss creating an Advisory Board for your own business, contact David Burns MBE on +971 50 914 4094.
The EBC’s associates have many years’ experience working in the UAE in a variety of fields and understand the realities of doing business at the sharp end.