Scheme designed to develop tomorrow’s Executives in the East of England gets underway

Pure Executive has marked the start of its unique Board Ready Talent Scheme, designed to support businesses in the eastern region to develop their succession pipelines, by delivering its first Executive Training Programme in collaboration with Cranfield Business School.

The Board Ready Talent Scheme has been developed by the Executive Search division of Pure, professional recruitment specialists for the East of England, on a not-for-profit basis. It is thought to be the first ‘board ready’ scheme created to support SMEs and the types of businesses operating in our region. It will include local businesses working together to develop their executive talent pipelines and to secure the future of the region’s businesses. 

The innovative new scheme has begun with eleven delegates from regional businesses including Birketts LLP, Suffolk Life Group, Muntons and Adnams taking part in the Executive Training Programme; the first element of the scheme. The delegates will continue to receive a combination of further training, coaching, mentoring and board experience placements organised by Pure Executive. The placements at non-competing organisations will enable delegates to observe the board or senior leadership team meetings of other host businesses, so they can experience the workings and dynamics of being on a Board first-hand. 

Lynn Walters, Executive Director at Pure Executive, founded the scheme and facilitated the training programme alongside David Butcher, Director at Cranfield Business School, who has over 25 years’ experience advising boards across global international organisations.

Lynn said: “The programme is just the start of this unique opportunity which will make a real difference to people looking to progress to Board roles. When we take a brief for an executive recruitment placement, organisations usually want someone with board experience. This becomes the typical chicken and egg situation; how can people gain board experience in the first place? It can be a challenge for businesses in our region to find the resources and opportunities to give their senior managers the experience and support needed to become future leaders.

“We’ve developed the Board Ready Talent Scheme to help address this challenge. It is also a natural extension to the programmes we already provide which contribute to the growth of our region through talent recruitment, development, retention and succession planning. Working together, businesses can provide board experience by hosting delegates and placing their own talent on other host boards in an observation role. Supported by the exclusive executive education programme, this provides our region’s future leaders with a real insight and understanding they wouldn’t otherwise have had. It will help accelerate their career path and when they do take on a board role they will be able to approach it with clarity to make a more impactful contribution from the start.”

The Board Ready Talent Scheme has been created to support the career progression of Senior Managers and Heads of Function in the region who are looking to step up to board level in the next few years, or for those who have just secured a board placement and want to build upon their experience. The first delegates included those in roles such as Group Financial Controller, Marketing Director and Law Firm Partner.

Jonathan Agar, CEO at participating organisation Birketts LLP, said: “As our business grows and develops we also need to look at ways to grow and develop our future leaders. The Board Ready Talent Scheme offers a tailor-made opportunity for our existing board members and aspiring leaders to learn from the training programme and from the good habits of other businesses in our region. It also provides a reciprocal arrangement in which we can offer the same opportunity to other individuals and businesses, enabling them to learn from and contribute to our own leadership approach.”

Sadie Lofthouse, Director of Culture & Performance at Adnams and a delegate on the course, added: “It was a really interesting programme with some great insight from the speakers and sponsors. I’ve gained a greater understanding of the challenges faced inside and outside of the Board room for both Directors and Non-Executive Directors, plus some extremely valuable knowledge around nuances of behaviour.”

The first group of delegates is made up of 6 men and 5 women, demonstrating the commitment of businesses in the region to bring greater diversity to their boards.

Lynn Walters added: “We are proud that the Board Ready scheme is achieving our ambition of addressing diversity at senior and boardroom levels across the Eastern region, achieving a balance of participants from the outset. The organisations involved are all taking positive steps to achieve balance in future and the gender split happened very naturally.”

The Executive Training Programme included sessions looking at what good governance looks like, board structures and the difference between Executive and Non-Executive roles. This was brought to life by the delegate’s sponsors, typically CEO’s, sharing their experiences with the group. John Watkinson, Chair of Vistage in Cambridgeshire, was also a guest speaker for the programme. Having held a variety of Executive and Non-Executive Director roles, including 11 years on the board of Anglian Water, John was well placed to talk about the different responsibilities and contributions needed for boards ranging from FTSE 100 through to SMEs and small family run businesses.

For more information about the Board Ready Talent Scheme visit or by email

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