2016 FWB Park Brown Leadership Dinner

  • FWB News

We were delighted to welcome Bob Keiller as our keynote speaker to the 2016 FWB Park Brown Leadership Dinner. Bob led the creation of global energy services company Production Services Network (PSN) in 2006, following a $300m buyout of Halliburton’s production services business. PSN was subsequently acquired by energy services company Wood Group Plc for $1bn in 2011. Bob assumed the CEO position at Wood Group Plc in November 2012, an office he held until December 2015. In January 2016, he was appointed Chairman of Scottish Enterprise.

Our guests were around 150 Chief Executives, Chairmen, Non-Executive Directors, Chief Financial Officers and Advisers from most of Scotland’s leading companies.

Bob’s theme for the evening was the importance of ‘values’ to an organisation, and reflected on his own experiences at PSN. Before even deciding upon a name for his new business, he sought to establish the ‘DNA’ or building blocks of his company – what type of company did they want to be, what were their beliefs, principles, and values going to be? Not merely superficial statements, but values that would determine how the business operated.

Key to this was making sure people understood, remembered, and related to them. PSN ended up with seven based around safety, relationships, social responsibility, people, innovation, financial responsibility and integrity. Businesses need clear and consistent values, and PSN matched their behaviours with those values – not just internally, but they ensured their interactions with customers (and indeed the customers they chose to deal with) were consistent with those values too.

What resulted was significant positive impact across the business. Customers respected their culture and values, and often this made the difference between winning and losing business. Recruitment and employee engagement also benefitted – PSN made the Sunday Times ‘Best Companies to Work For’ list in four consecutive years from 2008 to 2011, and in 2011 was also ranked among the top companies in the UK for employee engagement and involvement, and employee retention.

Why, then, doesn’t every organisation have a set of core beliefs and values, and why doesn’t every CEO lead from the front in this respect? The job of a CEO is not just to develop and lead the business strategy, but to implement and communicate business values. It is the CEO who sets, defines, and manages culture in an organisation, as well as leading it. A collective set of values defines who you are.

His speech was followed by a lively round table discussion and Q&A session, covering issues around engaging and winning over sceptics, the degree to which shareholders buy in to company values, potential clashes between ‘personal’ and organisational values, and indeed can having a set of values and principles undermine the (often difficult) decisions businesses have to make? Furthermore, the question was posed as to whether having a set of values is enough, which also led to an engaged debate and a thoroughly inspiring and thought provoking evening.


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