"'Stepping up' and 'calling in' to take the Island forward" (Jersey Evening Post - 22 July 2020)

As part of a regular series, IoD Jersey is sharing insights into the work of its Committee and sub-committees, highlighting the role it plays in supporting Jersey’s business community. This week it is the turn of Vice Chair, Natasha Egré.

Natasha Egré was appointed Vice Chair of the Institute of Directors in Jersey in August 2019. Alongside Chair Lisa Springate, she has guided the local Institute through a significant period of change that has revitalised the image, tackled the disruptions of COVID-19 and brought important issues to the fore.

Natasha is Head of Client and Product Development at leading Change and Project Management Firm Marbral Advisory. She is passionate about change, culture, diversity and innovative leadership.

How did you get involved with the Institute of Directors?

In 2018, I was approached to take over the role of Communications Officer for the IoD Jersey, which then transitioned to Chair of the PR Sub-Committee. Shortly after Lisa Springate was appointed Chair, she asked me if I would consider taking on the role of Vice-Chair. I was inspired by Lisa’s work ethic and strong leadership and after considering the responsibility, I decided to accept the position and I am very glad I did!

What did you consider when being asked to take on the Vice Chair role for Jersey?

My first consideration was whether I could do it. A sense of ‘Imposter Syndrome’ set in and I questioned whether the membership would feel I had the experience to tackle the role. Even though I had been in senior management roles for over a decade and a Director for six years, I still had doubts. I consider myself an ambitious and hard-working person but with that also comes a lot of self-criticism. Ultimately, I decided to rise above the inner critic and challenge myself.

The second consideration was whether my company, Marbral Advisory, would support me in dedicating the work hours required to be an effective Vice Chair. Luckily, following conversations with my CEO, my personal support network and Lisa I realised it was all achievable. A great reward has been the reaction of my peers, who have now joined the membership. What they once saw as an organisation that was out of reach or inappropriate for them, they now see as more approachable and inclusive.

What IoD activities are you particularly proud of?

Earlier this year, IoD Jersey, Lean In Jersey and the Diversity Network launched the IoD Diversity & Inclusion Vision Statement, which was signed by over 60 organisations. We are now working on further engagement to establish what support organisations need to achieve better D&I, and also agree parameters and benchmarks that we can all use to create more inclusive workplaces.

I am passionate about equality and diversity, firstly because it’s the right thing to do and secondly because we know that companies with higher levels of diversity outperform those with less diversity. There is an ever-growing call for the leadership of companies to be more representative of the staff, customers, investors and societies in which they operate. I also believe diversity helps to guard against groupthink on Boards, which can be very damaging.

I will continue to support our D&I Sub Committee to make strides and accelerate change but I also want to make sure that we encourage people to speak about the topic without fear. It’s my belief that there is too much ‘calling out’ which points out people’s mistakes and publicly shames but doesn’t actually rectify or address damage. ‘Calling in’ is a technique that does allow all parties to move forward. It’s a concept created by human-rights practitioners to challenge the toxicity of call-out culture. ‘Calling in’ is speaking up without tearing down and I think this is what we need to do to move forward and encourage real change rather than surface shifts.

How has IoD Jersey responded to COVID-19?

I am really proud of the work we have done to support our membership and the wider community during COVID-19. We moved the majority of our events online, shifted our agenda to respond to members concerns and utilised our committee collaboratively to work with the Government of Jersey and other associations to help bring us all through this pandemic. Lisa Springate has given up significant time to join Jersey’s newly formed Economic Council. The 16-strong Council includes community and business representatives from a range of sectors, participating voluntarily to receive, generate and consider ideas for reviving the Island’s economy. I know Lisa will not rest until they have worked together to ensure a strong recovery for our Island post-Covid19.

How did you tackle all the challenges of this period of significant change?
Luckily, I work for an excellent Change Management firm and I have learnt so much from our consultants about change resistance, the change curve and the requirement for leaders to be advocates of change and this has really helped me stay focused during the past year. We’ve transformed the look and key messaging of IoD Jersey, increased our committee to include 46 new sub-committee members, launched a new website and tackled the first wave of COVID-19. Whilst no one would doubt that the last few months have been exceptional, difficult and challenging circumstances for all concerned, a positive take away from the recent crisis has been the swell of co-operation amongst our community. Also, the fact that COVID-19 has made us all look long and hard at successes and failures and how best to re-set for a prosperous future.

Jersey has continued to demonstrate real stability, consistency and operational resilience during the crisis. As a Jersey girl, I am incredibly proud of how we’ve come together to tackle this period of adversity but I know there is a lot more to do too. IoD Jersey will now continue to work with Government and the business community to explore moving forward in terms of diversification, taxation, long term stimulus investment, innovation and entrepreneurialism, productivity, wellbeing, and culture.

Who should join the Institute of Directors?

If you're looking to connect to, develop and influence your network and the wider business community, as well as improving your knowledge, skills and mindset as an aspiring, current or retired director, then you should join the IoD. There’s a common misconception that the IoD is only for Directors and those in the finance industry but that is not the case at all. We welcome people from all industries and backgrounds and now have a special rate for students and charities.

What’s next on the agenda?

Nationally, the IoD’s Centre for Corporate Governance has just launched. The Centre’s initial projects are focussed on sustainable capitalism, stakeholder governance and the impacts of emerging technologies on governance. I think we need to approach this work with open-mindedness and flexibility with respect to how tomorrow's companies will organise themselves – I feel that after COVID-19, companies will be more resilient moving forward.

In Jersey, we continue to work towards the creation of the IoD D&I Charter and we have a diversity event scheduled for October. We also continue to run the Technology Innovation Services, have a Leader’s Lunch with the Chief Minister and Charlie Parker in November and a drinks reception in December to present the Director of the Year Awards. We will continue to remain agile, so that we can move these events online if required but we do look forward to the opportunity to see our membership in person again.

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