The Royal British Legion – An Interim Manager's Perspective
“It was something of a surprise when OdgersInterim suggested that I might put myself forward for the role of Interim Director General of the Royal British Legion. Like most people, I knew something about the Legion – welfare support for ex service people, the Poppy Appeal, Legion clubs and so on – but with no direct experience of working in the charitable sector I had not been expecting that type of assignment.
Eight demanding but enjoyable and exciting months later I realised that this was a classic case of not recognising how transferable were the skills that I had developed in other sectors.
The Royal British Legion is the country’s largest ex service charity with around 1,100 staff and an annual revenue budget of £95m, spent for the most part on welfare and support services, including residential homes, welfare break centres, training and business start up grants and advice services.
In managing the crucial relationship between the senior management team and the Chairman and Trustees I found my experience as Chief Executive in local government dealing with leaders and councillors was invaluable. In responding to the challenges posed by an organisation with a national head office but an operational arm in each region my experience as a Managing Director at the Audit Commission was totally relevant.
In addition the major fundraising and commercial operations of the Legion utilised the skills and understanding I developed as Chief Executive of the Manchester Commonwealth Games Organising Company.
An exceptionally interesting aspect of my time with the Legion was the opportunity to lead the development of the ‘Honour the Covenant’ campaign. The national launch took place on the Thames Embankment just before I handed over to the new permanent Director General of the Legion and was covered in all the national and many international media.
The most striking feature of the Royal British Legion for me was the incredibly strong sense of mission demonstrated throughout the organisation from Trustees right through to the 450,000 members and 300,000 Poppy Appeal collectors at local level. After completing the assignment I was able to join the local team of Poppy Appeal collectors in my home village and will continue to support the Legion locally in a voluntary capacity.
So for me the call from Odgers about this particular assignment has had a lasting legacy!”