Experienced board chair Helen Pitcher OBE, inspiring boardroom excellence

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Learn from another inspiring executive sharing her insights and personal journey to become a leader and non-executive board director in this increasingly digital world. Meet our next experienced leader Helen Pitcher.

Helen Pitcher, OBE, is an experienced Board member, Chairman, Board facilitator and Coach with experience from both corporate operational roles, board roles and as an advisor at Advanced Boardroom Excellence and President at INSEAD Directors Network.

Helen believes good corporate governance is crucial to a company’s success, that the approach to corporate governance is under pressure to change in these disruptive times, and that board members need to be proactive in learning new needed skills to be effective.

Helen’s journey to become a Board #Chair & #Board Advisor

So how did Helen Pitcher OBE, become an experienced change leader, Chair of boards and and a sought-after advisor?

Should you prefer to listen to the full interview with Helen Pitcher as a podcast episode you can tune into Exploring Leaders with Helen Pitcher.

Listen to Helen’s introduction on her progression from operational roles into advisory and board work;

Helen Pitcher worked in leading operational roles and managing major transformation projects at companies as Weetabix, Oxford University Press, Northenfood and Grand Metropolitan. 25 years ago she moved into consultancy and from the company Advanced Boardroom Excellence she advises Professional Service firms, FTSE 100, Private Equity and Family firms. Helen also works on boards herself as Chairman of pladis (United Biscuits, Godiva, Ülker Bisküvi), as Chairman of KidsOut a National Children’s Charity, as President of INSEAD Directors Network (IDN), and as Board member of CIPD.

Helen has also made a major piece of academic study, at least once a decade and INSEAD became Helens school of choice. At INSEAD she undertook “The challenge of Leadership”, The International Directors Program, Leading from the Chair, Strategy in the Age of Digital Disruption, one module of Advanced Strategy. Through INSEAD Helen got one of the Chair roles at Pladis global.

Helen also shares how an executive leader at Weetabix really influenced her career choices, and pushed her out of her comfort zone to change both profession and company, which had a major impact on her career.

In 2015 Helen Pitcher was appointed to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), a highly distinguished promotion to one of the Orders of the British Empire .

#Innovation and #digital impact on board work

Helen shares her insight on how board compositions and how board agendas impact corporate renewal and innovation. She also shares the benefit for her as a board director to be active on social media.

For business today, Helen believes that the composition of boards need to change and include far more diverse base of board directors, not just gender diversity but all strands of diversity, especially diversity of thought to get a high performing board.

To ensure that boards are securing corporate renewal and innovation, she recommends to simply ensure that the board agenda in majority have a forward looking focus rather than backward looking and leaving adequate space for true debate about threats, disruption and what true innovation could and should look like.

Helen also believes that digital impacts everything we do. The good thing with digital is that we now can look creatively on what can be done by individuals and what can be done by technology. Digital can also be used to make our products and services more accessible to a broader range of potential customers. The impact of digital is huge, but the knowledge of digital in some board rooms are not. Great boards make sure they get external input from thought leaders, they go to Silicon Valley etc. to ensure they keep pace.

Helen pitcher is also active herself on social media and believes she needs to be a role model and ahead of the curve. She is constantly keeping herself updated on topics of importance partly through social media, and the more broadly she can share that and invite conversations she helps herself, her companies as well as other organisations she like to influence.

Future trends and inspiration

Helen believes that leaders and boards need to increase their insight from external sources and get more engaged.

Helen shares her perspective that boards need to get more insights about their customers, to (spend more time in the business / be more out in the business and out with current and potential customers to understand where the next piece of business can be. Most companies still hold their board meetings at the company head quarter, which needs to change. Helen herself is looking for inspiration and insights from many different leaders. Finally, don’t miss out on the answer to which furniture Helen would be and why.

More insights and becoming involved transformational #change  and #board work   

To get more insight of what Helen Pitcher OBE knows and shares, we recommend you explore and build more knowledge around Leadership Development, Culture & Diversity, Transformational Change and Corporate Governance Excellence.

Besides exploring the links shared in the article above, we share further insights in the three topics below.

Leadership Development, Culture & Diversity

Photo: Pixabay, CC0

Boards increasingly need to ensure that their companies are developing and adapting the workforce and respond to disruption and automation. Still HR is not regarded as board players, which has been researched by Advanced Boardroom Excellence.

The insight and response of boards on Culture has been explored in a joint research by INSEAD, Board Agenda and Mazars.

Diversity on boards and in executive teams are increasingly being proved to ensure above average profitability, which has been statistically proven in a recent research by McKinsey.

One of the leading sources on Governance interviewed Helen Pitcher in their November 2017 magazine where she points to a new strategic direction for board directors and that we need to open up for more diverse boards.

EcoDa, the European Confederation of Directors Association, also held an event with an EcoDa event report in the topic of Corporate Governance and Culture.

Transformational Change

Photo: Pixabay, CC0

To ensure that boards have maximum impact on transformation as result of digital disruption, boards need to ensure a customer-first orientation, energize the leadership and ensure clarity of purpose as outlined in this article by Heidrich & Struggles.

Boston Consulting Group has outlined how Corporate Boards need to Step up and Step In and Guide the Transformation Process .

Are European Directors ready for digital world, was explored by the members of EcoDa, where Digoshen presented the European Digital Progress Board Report as key note speaker.

INSEADs Professor Ludo van Der Heyden has, together with the fluid world, created Guidelines for Boards and Executives Directing Digitalisation

In Harvard Business Review we find a research with Professor Linda Hill and Egon Zehnder on the New Innovation Imperative for Boards.

Boards need to be proactive and ensure they prioritize needed change in due time, and according to Harvard Business Review not wait for the CEOs to prioritize digital change

The company forerunners in transforming corporate decision making are already experimenting with involving AI robots on board levels as Deep Knowledge Ventures in Hong Kong and Tieto from Nordics, involving AI robots in the leadership team decisions.

Corporate Governance Excellence

Photo: Pixabay, CC0

The effective board function around relationships, interactions, values and sense of purpose has been explored in a report by Advanced Boardroom Excellence.

An insightful blog on governance topics is written by Dina Medland and is shared at Advanced Boardroom Excellence.

The INSEAD Directors Network is a global club of International Board Directors that are INSEAD Alumnus from MBA or Executive Education programs, with the aim to increase corporate governance excellence, facilitate contacts and share insights and experiences on international board topics.

INSEAD is a global thought leader, also in the aspects of corporate governance. INSEAD runs a Corporate Governance Center and provides education in corporate governance  including the International Directors Program, Leading from the Chair and also online programs as Strategy in the Age of Digital Disruption.

More about current board priorities can be found in NACD(US) Research of public company governance , in Top priorities for boards in Europe by E&Y , in On the Board Agenda 2018 by KPMG, in Governance in Focus on the Board Agenda by Deloitte  and Global and Regional Trends 2018 by HBR together with Russel Reynolds

Follow thought leaders & companies

Follow many of the mentioned thought leaders and companies via their websites, on LinkedIn and Twitter;

On LinkedIn we recommend you to follow Helen Pitcher,  Advanced Boardroom Excellence  and INSEAD Directors Network

On twitter we recommend you to follow @helenpitcher @ABExcellence @dinamedland @INSEADIDN, @BoardAgenda, @EcoDaAsbl, @INSEADKnowledge, @ToGovern, @HarvardBiz

Learn from other leaders Digoshen interviewed

And you can also find more inspiration from some of Digoshen’s earlier blog posts and podcast episodes (Exploring Leaders)

with board members

Non-Executive Board Director Denise Koopmans,

Board Director Hakan Osterberg

Board members and advisors Fennemiek Gommer & Anne Mieke Eggenkamp

with leaders of disruptive transformation

AirBnB Growth Director Gustaf Alstromer

Swedbank Digital Director Lotta Loven

 Sony Music Sweden CEO Mark Dennis

About Digoshen

Photo: Digoshen

These interviews are shared both on my own blog www.liselotteengstam.com as well as on the blog of Digoshen www.digoshen.com, where I am Chairman of the Board.

At Digoshen, we believe that Companies, Boards and Business Leadership Teams need to understand more of the digital world to fully leverage the potential when bringing their businesses into the digital age. We provide inspiration and support to help transition business leaders into more insightful positions for themselves and their companies.

To know where you and your company stand concerning innovation, digital business and leadership progress, take our survey at Digoshen.com/research and get a free of charge personalized report with recommendations on how to move forward. The survey is anonymous and takes about 15 minutes to complete.

You find more insights from Digoshen Research Report on company and boards progress into the digital era.

You can also listen to our interviews via our podcast Digoshens podcast “Exploring Leaders and also get tips on other podcasts via our regularity updated Digoshen Recommended Podcasts

If you like to keep yourself updated on innovation and digital business matters check out our Digoshen Insight Platform with inspiration, reports and weekly digital magazines.  On

We think it is important to share insights from inspiring #innovation and #digital1st thought leaders. If you are one of them, or know someone we should talk to, please send us a hint via http://digoshen.com/contact/ or via Twitter @digoshen .

Welcome to follow us on Twitter: @digoshen , our CEO @katycaroan & Chairman @liseeng

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