As we tidy up our files after the AGM, and the leaves fall from the trees, it feels a bit like the end of term here at Valleys to Coast. I am keen to share our progress on governance in the last year. There has been a lot going on!

We have made great strides in the last twelve months or so. We have new rules approved (2017 model sector rules), as part of the channel shift right across the sector. This has allowed us to move to a truly skills-based and remunerated Board. The benefits of that have been noticeable right from the off. We now have four new Board Members, onboarded this year, who are already making a huge contribution. We have internally appointed a new Vice Chair and Audit and Risk Chair, to replace a long-standing Board member retiring at the end of their term.

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(l to r) Jason Evans, Lisa Griffiths, Caroline Jones, Sophie Taylor our four new Board members — see our website for more

Of course, the rules need the support of a suite of effective policy documents underneath. We now have an entirely new suite of governance documentation all the way from rules to procedures. We have also been coordinating a policy refresh right across the business, with most now being complete.

We have been working together with the Board on developing new strategies to support our Corporate Plan. We have looked at our thriving communities, decarbonisation and equalities strategies to name a few.

We have a renewed emphasis on risk management — having overhauled our risk matrix. I think that is particularly important as we face such an uncertain world. So standards required around governance are only going to increase as a result.

We have also updated our approach to the Code of Governance. We have issued our regulatory self-assessment in a new, more accessible format. See below:

We have been investing in the Board as well, having been through an update of our skills matrix. We completed our Board appraisals in the Summer, supported by Central Consulting, which was very insightful.

And like everyone else we have moved to a virtual Board environment. It's not the same as meeting in person of course, and, as I have blogged elsewhere, its a learning process. Attendance has been very good, it’s worth noting, and it has allowed us to try different approaches. It is easier to invite speakers from anywhere if they don’t have to commute!

And finally the virtual AGM. It was a first for all involved but we did well. I’m pleased we were able to listen to customer voices in that new format and I am sure there is more we can do with engagement at virtual AGMs in the future. Review of the year:

So what have I learned from the last twelve months?

My summary of the end of term report includes:

- The relationships in governance are absolutely key — and it is worth investing in them.

- Embrace new technology and seek out opportunities. But don’t forget – nothing quite replaces face to face.

- The importance of continuous improvement — we have made great strides in the last twelve months. It’s key now we maintain that and stay up to speed with standards and expectations, which are only going to increase.

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