Novus Blog

What the new Non-Exec Director brings to the business

WHAT THE NEW NON-EXEC DIRECTOR BRINGS TO THE BUSINESS

  30 MAY, 2018      COMPANY UPDATES , INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
John Palfreyman shares his thoughts on becoming the newly appointed Non-exec Director for Novus. Novus is privately owned by John Seddon’s family. The family have been in business for over 120 years and have a very clear view of why they are in business together. Following my appointment as Non-Executive Director at Novus Property Solutions, I recently had the pleasure of attending a “Non-Executive Directors (NED) in a Family Business” masterclass, run by the Institute of Family Businesses in association with the Financial Times. This inspirational one-day session was delivered by practitioners with a wealth of first-hand family business experience.  The delegates were either engaged as NEDs, or seeking to appoint a NED into a family business leading to fascinating discussions in the breaks and breakout sessions. These are my ten key “take-aways” from this session: 1. Clarity of role - for the NED to be successful, it is essential that there is total clarity of what is expected from them.  This needs to be shared with the board members - and (obviously) the NED - then periodically reviewed. 2. Champion of family culture - family businesses have a culture so clear “that you can taste it” (quote from one of the keynote speakers).  For example, Novus’ family values are documented here.  It’s essential that the NED understands, buys into and then champions the family values in all interactions with the business.  The NED must also speak up in the event that family culture and business goals misalign. 3. Balanced attributes - a NED is usually recruited to fill specific knowledge gaps at Board Level.  But the NED’s personal chemistry with family members and the Chief Executive Officer are equally as important and an essential pre-requisite for success.  The interpersonal aspects need to be nurtured through regular, informal interactions with the Board and family members. 4. Comprehensive on-boarding - the NED’s time to value is directly attributable to the quality and thoroughness of the on boarding process.  Gone are the days when an hour with the Company Secretary walking through the last Board pack will suffice.  The new NED must take time to get to know the Board, family members and Chief Executive Officer and their on boarding should include visits to selected remote office locations to understand how the company operates. 5. Complete objectivity - the NED must be totally objective (and be seen to be so) in their advice to the Board and Chief Executive Officer, and avoid forming closer ties with specific Board members.  The NED must also avoid getting involved in family or Board “politics” and forming “power axes” with other NEDs or Board members. 6. Mentoring - the NED is ideally placed to mentor selected Board and executive team members, including the ‘next generation’ family members. 7. External context - the NED brings external context into the family business, mitigating the risks arising from “it’s always been done like this” philosophy. 8. Successor planning - because of their objectivity and external context they bring, the NED is also ideally positioned to help with successor planning, to ensure that opportunities for key staff are achieved and the “flight risk” for key position holders is mitigated. 9. Challenging, but ego-free - the NED should (and must) challenge the Chief Executive Officer and family members where appropriate, but must do this in a sensitive, ego free manner avoiding confrontation and from a position of objectivity. 10. Sounding board - the NED must be available to the Chief Executive Officer and family members for brainstorming, idea validation and so on.  Again, the NED will offer impartial, objective advice in these interactions acting as a “critical friend” to the business. I am very excited to be able to fulfil the position of the Non-Executive Director for Novus after working in the information technology industry for 40 years, most recently with IBM at director level. Novus has a history of innovation which has seen it embrace change and adapt to meet new challenges. It’s an exciting time to join the business as it looks to improve efficiencies through digitisation and leverage information for strategic advantage. I will be working with Novus’ Board of Directors to integrate information-led innovations into project delivery and business management.  
Working at Novus - Andrew Besford

WORKING AT NOVUS - ANDREW BESFORD

  20 MAY, 2018      COMPANY UPDATES
Its safe to say you spend a large proportion of your life at work. That’s why it’s important to enjoy what you do and the people you work with. Operations Manager Andy Besford talks about his favourite aspects of working at Novus. What is the greatest thing about working in Novus? It’s without a doubt the diverse group of people that I get to meet and interact with including colleagues, supply chain partners, clients and customers. Our business activity covers the whole spectrum in terms of society and industry which means that we get to encounter people from all walks of life. I am very much a people person and I get fulfilment from learning from the experience of others. Notable people that spring to mind were a former zookeeper that came to work for us as a Contracts Manager (quite apt) and our very own Darren Randerson who started his working life as a trawlerman in the North Sea.  We have had ex-professional footballers working for us, part-time actors, Russell the DJ, and Otis the tiler who wows crowds at the weekend with his vocals!! What has been your greatest achievement? My greatest achievements come from the progression, development and success of the people who work within my team. Novus is a national company made up of local teams guided by strong company values and family ethos. As an operations manager, I have a duty to identify potential, nurture talent and provide the opportunities for my team members to progress within our business. During the last 5 years my team members have achieved multiple promotions, gained formal qualifications and their performance has been recognised by our Board - leading to them featuring on both the Scholarship Programme and this year’s ‘Stepping In’ and ‘Stepping Up’ leadership programmes. What has been your most challenging moment? Hearing that we would no longer be Seddon Property Services. Originating from Stoke-on-Trent and working in the construction industry since I left school, the name Seddon was synonymous with the trade. I joined the business as a Supervisor 8 years prior to Novus being born and had built my career within Seddon. It was an uncertain time for myself and many others, however, when recently celebrating the companies fifth birthday, I can wholeheartedly say that the last five years have been a resounding success. What is your most memorable story? Working with Places for People on The Windmill Project, seeing the effect that we could have on a community by engaging our people and supply chain with a sole purpose to improving the lives of others. Spending time in this underprivileged community and understanding the day to day challenges of the people using the facility we were recreating has left me with lasting memories of the positive impact we had. What are you looking forward to in the future? Personal progression within my career. I am in the process of integrating into a new role which will involve having responsibility for both East Midlands and Thetford operations. This is going to be a real challenge which I am relishing. I have also successfully enrolled in the inaugural “Stepping Beyond” development program for 2018 which I can’t wait to get involved in.
Working at Novus - Andy Coulson

WORKING AT NOVUS - ANDY COULSON

  15 MAY, 2018      COMPANY UPDATES
Andy Coulson, Site Supervisor from our York Office is our third colleague to explain why he enjoys being part of the Novus team. What is the greatest thing about working in Novus?  The wide range of work types that we deliver, which add variety to my role and promote the development of new skills. What has been your greatest achievement?    My greatest achievement to date has been passing the benefit of my knowledge and experience to new colleagues. What is your most memorable story? Finding out my daughter, Gemma who works as a Painter and Decorator at Novus was chosen for Challenge Africa, where a team from Novus went to Cape Town in South Africa to help improve the facilities of a local school. What are you looking forward to in the future?  To continue to work as a team member within Novus and making a contribution. 
Working at Novus - Donna Mcmullon

WORKING AT NOVUS - DONNA MCMULLON

  10 MAY, 2018      COMPANY UPDATES
Novus is a family business owned by the 4th generation of the Seddon family, although we are now a national contractor with over a £140 million turnover, the family values remain. Here is our second colleague Donna Mcmullon, Personal Assistant to tell us why she loves working at Novus. What is the greatest thing about working in Novus? People, the internal culture makes the working environment a pleasure to be part of, there is a true sense of family values and coming to work is a pleasure. What has been your greatest achievement? There are a few, achieving my Business Degree many years ago when I first joined the company. Since then, it has been managing the Investors in Excellence certificate and more recently has been the development of my department and evolving with the company. What has been your most challenging moment? Presenting to the senior management team about 9 years ago! Although I have a good working relationship with the team, I found it a little daunting stood in front of a table of over 30 board members while delivering the IIE standard!  Humour often helps me get through! What is your most memorable story? A memorable story was when we ran a customer care campaign to take 3 families to Lapland one Christmas. Terrie Brett and I took these families from 3 different housing associations, having no children of my own back then, it was like taking Ebenezer Scrooge himself!!! While I took care of the practical matters, Terrie entertained the families (and the entire plane) with renditions of Christmas carols over the intercom system! The joy on their faces was a beautiful moment and I remember them all so clearly. Who would have thought that a company in our industry could deliver such a nice gesture to 3 lucky families!! Priceless! What are you looking forward to in the future? More of the same quite frankly! Let’s build this empire together, but let’s be happy in doing so
PRESS OFFICE
Sophie Seddon-Hall
Telephone: 07973 345873
Email: sophie.seddon@novussolutions.co.uk
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