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Charandeep Chana

Talent Trends Insight 2022

By | Latest News, News

Welcome to our Talent Trends report January 2022.

​Rarely have consecutive years started with such different mindsets. 2021 may have begun with uncertainty, but it ended up being an extremely positive year for our industry and for the Investigo Group – in fact, our best ever year.

​As we begin 2022, the market has returned with a vengeance and the demand from our clients has dramatically increased. If our focus a year ago was on how we could continue to adapt and embed the lessons of the pandemic, our thoughts now turn to growth and to how else we can support our clients to give them the best chance of success.

​In fact, it’s been such a positive year that career transience has become increasingly common. We’re already in the midst of the Great Resignation, with the UK experiencing the highest quit rate since the financial crisis. For organisations across the market, this presents both challenges – not least in standing out to potential new talent and keeping the talent they already have – but opportunities.

​After virtually two full years of widespread remote working, we’re more often than not remembering to unmute ourselves before speaking on those Microsoft Teams calls. But being more accustomed to a new mode of communication doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re connecting. After all, we each have different preferred methods and frequencies of communicating and it’s important that business leaders get to know their people’s preferences on an individual basis, enriching their working relationships with a touch of old school connection.

​Never is it more important to connect with your people than in your approach to DEI. In an area that changes all the time – this time last year many of us would have referred to it as D&I – you must never stop talking and never stop learning. Increasing their diversity will continue to be at the forefront of organisations’ thinking, but this must not be at the expense of inclusion. You can have the most diverse, representative workforce in the world, but if your people don’t all have the opportunity and the support to participate and achieve, then you’re wasting your time. Before you can understand what kind of policies you need to have in place, you first need to understand yourself. Last year, we conducted a “who we are” survey of our staff to better understand our people and their needs. The results of this survey will help to form the basis of our approach to DEI in the future, both internally and externally.

​Environmental, social and governance issues (ESG) have never been more prominent in corporate thinking, but too many companies are still struggling to raise these issues with the board in any meaningful way. By reframing ESG in a way that emphasises its importance to your everyday business operations, you can bring about the required focus, funding or policy change. Once again, connection is key. This is something we all need to do together, both within our business – sustainability specialists working with finance, marketing, senior leadership and any other interested parties – and at an organisational level. The time of siloed thinking is over.

​Our Talent Trends report features expert insights and practical tips on each of these key trends – career transience, the changing focus of communication, DEI and ESG – and a lot more besides, including market updates on each of our specialisms. Many thanks to everyone who offered their insight and expertise.

​We hope that you’ll find this report useful and if you’d like to discuss any of the insights raised, or to talk to one of our experts in more detail about how these trends will affect the talent in your business, please contact us.

Nick Baxter | Investigo Chief Executive Officer

Talent Trends January 2022

making accurate status determinations

Making accurate status determinations

By | ir35, Latest News, News

Within article 1 in our series of articles to help you check your process and management of IR35, we reported that both the DWP and HM Courts & Tribunals Service received large fines and penalties for issuing incorrect IR35 determinations.

It is understood that both organisations were utilising the tool – CEST – for making the IR35 determinations, but were still unfortunately making incorrect determinations. Does this mean the CEST tool is not fit for purpose? Not necessarily. It could also be that the responses given by end users to the questions raised by the CEST tool were inaccurate. Remember it is important to respond to the questions on the basis of fact (what is actually happening) as opposed to aspiration. In article 3 of this series, we explore this further.

The Check Employment Status for Tax tool, better known as CEST, was introduced during the public sector reforms back in 2017. Those who have worked with CEST for many years will be well aware of the changes and updates it has undergone, as well as the large amounts of criticism it has received. So with this in mind why would we utilise CEST as the best approach for making an IR35 determination?

Well let’s be honest: (1) It’s built by HMRC so surely they should know their own legislation; (2) it states that HMRC will stand by this result should it be a true and accurate representation of the engagement; and (3) it’s free to use! So I think it’s fair to say that CEST is here to stay and will be adopted by many organisations.

Our approach is that we would recommend the use of CEST in making determinations, but it should not be solely relied upon. Having an accurate view of each contractor engagement to make the determination is vital. Secondly, when making the determination, ensure that when you take into account the contractual terms, you focus primarily on the ACTUAL working practices on the ground.

What about 3rd party status determinations and insurance practices? There are many organisations offering these types of advice and services and at Investigo, we have built up a number of relationships with those whose services we have assessed and believe to be fit for purpose. They can provide helpful insight and additional levels of understanding, informed advice and ensure a ‘belt-and-braces’ approach to IR35 determinations.

In our opinion, with the right process, governance and methodology, these organisations can be utilised as a sanity and reference check to help ensure your practices and decisions are aligned to the legislation and also to audit your determinations. It is certainly worth considering the services of such a third party for some of the more nuanced determinations. The insurance packages, I’m still to be convinced by. If an engagement is outside at the start, and it remains outside throughout its duration, then what do you need the insurance for? I understand the drive for this, especially from a risk perspective, knowing you have accurate determinations but also knowing you have insurance that covers you should HMRC disagree with a determination.

So in conclusion, use CEST, make sure that it’s an accurate reflection of both the contractual terms and working practices (and not what you think they could be!) and periodically sanity check a sample of your determinations with a reputable third party to ensure this represents your interpretation of the legislation. Oh, and don’t forget to store the evidence for when your favourite tax person comes knocking…


HMRC are coming. Are you ready?

By | ir35, Latest News, News

​In September HMRC started to contact organisations to begin to understand how end users are engaging with contractors and applying the off-payroll rules for IR35.

A template of the HMRC letter shows that they are looking to understand:

  • The process being adopted to hire contractors working through their own intermediaries –Personal Service Companies (PSCs) – either directly or via a labour provider such as an employment business;
  • The process used for determining the IR35 employment status of the working arrangements in question; and
  • The process for deciding if any outsourced services are indeed fully contracted out or are a supply of staffing services by another name.

Within their letter, HMRC then explain what they do once they have decided whether your systems and processes are suitable for the correct application of the rules and whether they believe more tax is owed / any interest is due on the tax owed.

It’s worth noting that HMRC launched IR35 with a ‘soft-landing,’ stating that any fines would not be applied within the first 12 months of the new legislation being implemented. However, it’s also worth noting HMRC still expects the rules to be followed and the correct tax to be accounted for. And with six months already lapsed, the 12-month window is quickly evaporating. Therefore our advice to end-users is to double check your own processes are fit for purpose and act now to make sure those processes are properly documented. Your records should provide a clear audit trail of those processes and the decisions made in relation to IR35 so that you are prepared should one of these letters land on your doormat.

Getting prepared

We have extensive experience of implementing IR35 management frameworks that allow you to make individual, case by case determinations for all contractor engagements. The silver bullet for IR35 isn’t SOW, it’s knowing IR35 and managing a framework for true and accurate determinations to be made for all contingent worker engagements where an IR35 determination is appropriate.

Ensure you have:

  • An approved methodology for making the IR35 determinations where appropriate. There’s a lot of criticism of the CEST tool (Check employment status for tax – GOV.UK ( and in our opinion it should be used as a guide to help build the evidence of a determination but should not be solely relied upon;
  • A solid and robust process to assess, review and govern all contingent workforce engagements on an individual basis;
  • Created a working practices policy to help the teams on the ground understand how to work with outside IR35 contractors. It’s important to remember that in IR35, actual working practices supersede contractual terms;
  • Developed individual services descriptions for every engagement where the working practices fall outside IR35 – and make sure you have a process to keep these under review so that they remain relevant at any subsequent extension point. Don’t forget about a change request process should the deliverables need to change mid-contract due to business demand;
  • Terms of engagement for both ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ arrangements – whether directly with contractors or with service or labour providers – getting the right contractor on the right contract. e.g. PAYE, umbrella, PSC;
  • Education and training for all hiring managers – it’s really important to keep the knowledge and education fresh for all. It’s easy to slip back into poor practices;
  • Evidence of all IR35 determinations made – having all the contracts, status determinations and supporting evidence stored in one place which can be audited and assessed will certainly be a benefit;
  • Finally – seek independent advice. We would recommend you build your own capability but getting this verified with a third party will help to ensure you keep up to date with the changing legislation, especially as case law is released and introduced.

If you are concerned with the methods and processes you use to govern and manage your contingent workforce then feel free to contact us.

Our next article will be based on making the status determination and whether we can be safe relying on a CEST determination.


IR35: was it a storm in a teacup…or is the storm still coming?

By | ir35, Latest News, News

​Six months ago IR35 reform was made across the private sector. And similar to GDPR in February and March this year we had a lot of noise with agencies, end users and contractors all working hard to be compliant for the 5th April 2021 deadline. While this all seemed to go quiet over the summer, those paying closer attention to the IR35 world would have found that quite a lot has happened.

Six-month timeline:

So what does this tell us?

IR35 is a very technical subject with lots of intricacy and details. Understanding all of the case law and interpretations of legislation requires a doctorate in itself, so it’s easy to understand why people may shy away or delegate decisions.

However, with the market BOOMING – APSCo reporting a 17% month-on-month rise in contractor recruitment in September – are end-client organisations getting the best available skills? Is IR35 still hampering your efforts? Are you putting yourself at even more risk by heading into an unsuitable SOW arrangement for resource? With the rush to making determinations have many organisations lost sight, or even control of their IR35 process as it’s transitioned into BAU?

​At Investigo Group we want to help our clients get this right. Support our clients with making the right and most compliant decision.

So over the coming weeks we’re releasing a series of articles designed for talent communities to help them understand, demystify and sanity check their process and management adoption for IR35.

Watch this space for more to come but please contact us should you be concerned about your IR35 process!

talent trends

Talent Trends Insight 2021

By | Insight, Latest News

If uncertainty characterised much of last year, this year has been characterised by optimism. The rapid rollout of the vaccine, the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the reopening of more sectors of the economy have spurred a marked increase in hiring activity, according to the latest UK Report on Jobs survey compiled by HIS Markit on behalf of KPMG and REC.

In May, permanent staff appointments rose at a record pace and demand for workers increased at the fastest rate for over two decades. At the same time, a fall in staff availability has contributed to increases in pay. A year ago, many professionals would have been concerned about job security in a time rife with uncertainty, redundancies and furloughs. Now, they can almost take their pick.

This reversal in the supply and demand dynamic presents us with a different kind of challenge. While professionals are in high demand, employers are finding it harder getting hold of the right talent. As recruiters, our job is therefore not only to help organisations find the people they need, but to provide them with the tools to manage their future talent.

A key focus for organisations in the second half of 2021 has been on successfully creating talent pipelines. When the talent isn’t necessarily ready-made, the onus is on employers to grow and cultivate it. It’s all about nurturing your people, providing relevant training and speaking to them regularly to give them the confidence that they can take that next step. At the same time, employers need to have confidence in their young talent, presenting them with opportunities they can grow into rather than waiting until they tick all the right experiential boxes. The Apprenticeship Levy helps by funding apprenticeship training for all employers, and any unspent funds can be utilised to upskill and train your existing team.

Diversity will be a crucial consideration in talent pipelining, and it’s important that organisations work closely with their recruitment partners to produce diverse shortlists containing people from all walks of life. At the same time, employers must remember that what constitutes ‘diversity’ will differ from one organisation to another. You need to have an inclusive culture in place to allow for effective pipelining, otherwise the talent you bring in won’t have the opportunity to make an impact.

For some time now, it seems like we’ve been talking about the challenge of hybrid working and how best to manage, monitor and motivate a workforce spread across physical and non-physical locations. As we return to work, that challenge will at last become very real. Will your organisation return to the physical office and if so, how will you manage that return? Will you offer your employees a mixture of office and remote work, and on what basis will you decide when people should be in the office? How will you ensure all your employees – whether remote or otherwise – feel included in that process? How will you continue to keep your workforce motivated and engaged?

​Our report features expert insights on the key trends affecting the market right now, including hybrid working, D&I talent pipelining, future-proofing your talent strategy and candidate experience, as well as market updates on each of our specialisms.

​We hope that you’ll find this report useful and a big thank you to all our contributors. If you’d like to talk to us about any of the insights in this study, or you’d like a more detailed discussion about how these trends will affect the talent in your business, please contact us.

Read Investigo Talent Trends Insight


It’s not just about diverse shortlists

By | Insight, Latest News, News

​Diversity and inclusion is top of most businesses’ agendas right now, especially when considering their hiring goals. However, the urgency of getting things done impedes getting things right.

There are two really key points I want to make:

First of all, we need to challenge our understanding of what constitutes ‘diverse’ – everyone is diverse, which means we must stop defining minority groups within homogenous environments as ‘diverse talent’ because it assumes diversity is all they can bring to the table. Diversity recruitment is just simply recruitment and as a female of mixed heritage I want to know I’ve been hired because I’m a superstar and not because I look different.

Secondly, there is no point talent pipelining if your organisation isn’t inclusive, as reflected through your culture, EVP and reputation. As my incredible D&I Committee co-lead Kelly says, culture eats strategy for breakfast.


Quite frankly, diversity of thought will come from a diverse group of people. When you’re in a rush to find someone who fits a job description, it’s all too easy to revert back to tried and trusted hiring techniques and talent sources, which is not conducive to new modes of thinking. By talent pipelining, you have access to a wider net of talent and the process will change behaviours from looking for someone to fit a mould.

This will lead to improved idea generation and problem solving where everyone’s creative juices can flow and better decisions are made because of it.


To reiterate my earlier point, you can only achieve a diverse workforce if your company culture is authentically inclusive in the first place.

So you’re thinking all this is great and interesting, but give us some tangible advice. Here goes:

  • Firstly, make inclusion your core mission, establish non-biased recruitment processes, implement pay gap reporting, ensure your benefits serve everyone equally, make training mandatory and enforce zero tolerance – make everyone feel like they belong and you’ll attract more talent.
  • Through your CSR, actively attract talent to your brand, industry or functionalities you consider less diverse within the business. More often than not, there is a lack of diversity within some areas full stop, so we need to encourage young people to enter those markets.
  • Sponsor institutions, attend events or offer your specialist knowledge among circles of untapped talent, including those hosted by search firms – get your company name in lights!
  • Consider mentor schemes with local higher and further education institutions.
  • Establish paid internships or apprenticeships – making sure the pay is fair otherwise they immediately exclude those who are financially disadvantaged.
  • Set goals, not quotas. For example, set a goal that all job adverts or the company landing page is written in neutral language or that you will train 100% of the talent and hiring community within a certain timeframe.
  • Work with agencies who have a solid D&I agenda – they can represent your brand in the market when talking to passive candidates.


It’s very important to consider who is attracting talent into your business and addressing their biases. Make sure your talent teams are actively considering potential candidates based on the value they can bring to the organisation and not just the credentials of the previous person; by default you’ll be looking to replicate a hire, not consider the value a diverse perspective could bring. With your hiring managers, ask them if they consider a group of people to be better at a job role than another and then get them to consider why their teams lack wider representation.

Remember equality and equity are different things – suggesting all candidates have an equal footing by going through the same interview process is not equitable. You could miss out on a brilliant candidate who is neurodiverse because you’ve insisted on ‘the social test’.

This will lead you directly into analysing barriers to entry that have existed. For example, within the Russell Group universities, there is a huge student population disparity concerning race; by stipulating Russell Group educated candidates in job descriptions, you’re immediately discounting a huge range of talent based on barriers to entry that existed when they were at school.

Avoid being performative at all costs – at the end of the day you’ll miss out on great talent and damage your reputation in the process. You’ll teeter on territory of being viewed as unfair or participating in a ‘tick box’ exercise. This is absolutely not a quick fix and why improving our talent pipelining for future generations is so important.

The fact you’re at the end of this article means you are engaged and you want to make change in this space. This change is going to take time but why not be a leader, why not pave the way for your industry and be a vital part of the transformation? Go on, I promise you can do it and believe me, you have no idea the positive impact you will have on people’s personal and professional lives (and outperforming your competitors is pretty nice, right?)

 Olivia Dodd – Investigo

Investigo Talent Trends Insight

Wellbeing and Engagement Insight

By | Insight | No Comments

After one of the most challenging years many of us will remember, there’s never been a more appropriate time to think about how we engage our workforce and support them on their wellbeing journey. It’s just as important that we don’t forget out own.

We know that employee engagement and wellbeing are inextricably linked. It has never been more important to shine a spotlight on the environment we create for our employees, giving them the very best opportunity to be happy, motivated and productive.

The pandemic has naturally created huge feelings of anxiety for many of us, whether about the security of our employment or about our health – not to mention the health of our loved ones – and widespread remote working has left many feeling alone and isolated.

The vaccine and lifting of restrictions in the UK have created a more positive outlook for the year ahead. However, 2021 will bring new challenges in our return to work and our ability to successfully interact with our colleagues in a hybrid working environment.

With this insight report, we want to talk openly about how the pandemic has challenged our wellness and offer practical advice for improving both your own, and your employees’ wellbeing. We also look at how you can take a holistic approach to engaging your workforce and providing an environment for them to flourish, as well as publishing the results of our most recent survey on what’s important to employees for their wellbeing at work.

Many thanks to our contributors and to everyone who participated in our survey. We hope you’ll find this insight useful, and if you’d like to discuss any of the issues raised or to talk to a member of our team about how you can better look after the wellbeing in your organisation, please contact us.

Nick Baxter | Investigo Chief Executive Officer

Read insight 

​CIO to Non-Executive Director – The Journey

By | CIO

Although technology has become more important than ever in a distributed working world, there is still a lack of tech experts on company boards. Investigo held a panel discussion on Thursday 8th April on the journey from CIO to non-executive director, hosted by Matt Smith, Chief Revenue Officer and Chris Seel, Director. They were joined by a panel of Peter Reichwald, an expert CV writer, and experienced CIOs and non-executive directors, Sarah Flannigan and Paul Coby, who offered practical tips for CIOs looking to achieve non-executive director roles.

The application: Peter Reichwald

It’s important first to understand why an organisation is looking for a non-executive director. As a CIO, you may have the expertise in transformation, organisational cultural change, technology or digitalisation to help them achieve their strategic goals, or regulatory experience across different jurisdictions to help them achieve governance oversight.

Take a dispassionate look at the criteria on whether a role is for you, where you can add more than the other candidates. If you hit 75% of the criteria, you should take it seriously. At the same time, you shouldn’t narrow the pool of opportunities down too far.

How should you approach the search for a non-executive director role?

  • You need to demonstrate passion, why you want the role – where your passion crosses a need, there’s likely to be a role for you.
  • Remember it’s all about what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. The door opens outwards.
  • Accept that you will have to deal with adversity.
  • Be happy – people often walk into the interview room with their shoulders drooped. Be upright, smile and engage with the panel.

CIO CV tips

  • A CV should be a factual evaluation of your career progression and achievements, yet directed at each specific role. You should never use the same CV twice.
  • Aim for two pages, not more than three.
  • Your profile should be three or four lines long.
  • Include details for the last 10 years and no longer, as the world has changed.
  • Provide the name of each employer along with its activity, size, turnover and number of staff, as well as your job title and responsibilities, in two or three lines.
  • Avoid colloquialisms and inhouse speak, which will mean nothing to the people reading your CV.
  • Include work outside of your day job – charity work, school governor positions.

The covering letter

Your covering letter should be up to two pages long and the person specification should guide you on the points you need to cover. Your motivation to apply has to be in black and white. What is it about the company that you like, and what are the challenges that appeal to you? Illustrate your achievements with bullet points of first-hand examples, including the objective, how you achieved it and the quantifiable outcome: ‘by installing this system, I reduced operational costs by a certain percentage.’ Remember, not ‘we,’ but ‘I.’

The network

Everyone needs to know your aspirations. If they don’t know you want to be a NED, that you have the capacity to be a NED, they won’t think of you. Above all else, your network is crucial. During conversations at social events and the little places where people meet people, drop in that you’re looking for a NED role. One of the first places people will hear that a company is recruiting a new NED will be when the chairman is telling the board.

“The door to winning your role opens outwards. Be your own estate agent and sell yourself.”

The CIO juggling act: Sarah Flannigan

“I love it. The variety, the challenge of context switching from one organisation to another hour to hour, several companies in different sectors every day. It keeps your brain sharp. It’s exhausting but wonderful. I’m learning at a level I’ve never learnt before, and I’ve become more useful as I share what I learn with other organisations.”

As a non-executive director on the boards of eight companies, Sarah has to play very different roles depending on the needs of the organisation. She’s working with various CIOs and tech teams at various stages of evolution and maturity. Being able to keep abreast of so many different challenges is incredibly powerful.

Becoming a non-executive director

It’s important to be a chair. Sarah fell into non-executive directorship by jumping off the exec career ladder. Being a chair fulfilled Sarah’s need to be driving something forward, which she was able to do through the CEO and leadership team.

With an intense portfolio, it’s about playing with the graphic equaliser of roles where you always know where your next opportunity will be, and are able to feed in one role to replace another.

What makes a good NED?

If you get the chance to work with a board, watch how they work. What impact do they have on the organisation and what can you learn from it? A NED is there to lead through others, not to show everyone how much they know. Able to subjugate their ego for the sake of an organisation, a NED will know they’re there to help the chair and the CEO to be successful. A CEO needs critical friends who will challenge, support and provide fresh ideas. You’ll probably only make about 10 contributions a year, so no word should be wasted. NEDs often do their best work outside the boardroom, for example through an informal, quiet one to one with a CEO who’s really struggling with something, or by mentoring a CIO.

Why are you useful to that board? CIOs make great NEDs as they work across the piece. They have to be strategists and delivery people who are interested in processes and transformation, and understand how every bit of the organisation works. Don’t hide your battle scars in interviews, as boards want to know you’ve learned from them.

The challenges

The time commitment – this varies enormously. Do your due diligence, speak to other NEDs on the board. There are usually about 20-30 days a year, half of them meetings and half of them reading papers and preparation.

Fees – these will start at about £5,000 a year for a government body and rise all the way to six-figures sums for a FTSE 100 company.

Balancing – you’ll need to graft to fit it in alongside your day job. No one should think for a moment that your eye’s on another interest – but your day job has to come first. The board want to know you’ve got live, relevant experience.

Starting off – joining a board of governors is an amazing way to give something back to the community and learn how to be a non-executive director. It’s pro bono but if you’re serous, those are the hard yards you’ll need to put in to start with. The NHS trust or cabinet offices are good places to start.

“Network and network and network. Tell everyone you’re looking for a role. You just never know when someone will be looking for your skills. Get ready to grab your chance when it comes along.”

Becoming a non-executive director: Paul Coby

How do you get a non-executive director role? What are you committing to? Why do it?

The worst case

  • You’re on the board of a company that’s been accused of misrepresentation or remissions in its accounts before you join.
  • The company is subject to a hostile takeover from activist shareholders who feel the board has mismanaged the company.
  • You attend daily board meetings that clash with your day job.
  • The company is subject to anonymous allegations of various illegal activities. They might be completely unfounded but they have to be dealt with.
  • You’ve been hired as a specialist IT director by a startup.

Why do it?

It challenges you to see the whole business like a CIO, CFO or CEO. You’ll have a lot you can add to the board, running core systems and probably adding to the digital strategy. You will understand your own company better and what’s going through execs’ heads.

Your job as a NED is not to do the jobs of execs – it’s to help and support them. You need to challenge in a constructive way, do your due diligence on what sort of board it is. You will probably be hired for your ability to help generate business as well as to support on digital. Your relationships with people on boards of companies are really key.

How do you get one?

“Make sure sensible and trustworthy headhunters know you want to do this.”

Build a tailored CV talking about what you will bring to the company and where you can add value, whether that’s helping with IT, supporting on cyber security or developing a digital strategy. You’re there for your overall value and your ability to see the big picture. Target a sector where you think you can add value. It’s important to be realistic – build a ladder, maybe starting as a school governor. Build that network and get the right intros.

The top five things to look out for

  • Is it a solid, well run company? Do your due diligence. Commit your reputation, skills and career to doing this.
  • Will you get on with the key people? Talk to the chair and the CEO to find out.
  • Can you afford the time commitment? Your day job is number one. If something has to give, it should probably be your NED role.
  • The culture of the board – light touch or interventionist?
  • Are they really hiring a non-executive director to do the IT director or CIO role? You’re not being paid to do this and it’s not in your job specification.


With their technological and digital expertise and the global oversight afforded by their roles, CIOs can bring real value to non-executive director positions while enriching their own knowledge and experience. It’s a mutually beneficial cycle for the individual, for their employer and for the companies they support as a non-executive director. As more and more organisations wake up to the importance of technical knowledge in the boardroom, we’ll undoubtedly see an increase in the accountabilities for non-executive directors – and in the number of CIOs being given these positions.

Many thanks to our panel and if you’d like to find out more about becoming a non-executive director, or you’d like to attend our next event, please contact us.