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Ordnance Survey seeks a chairman/woman. But why?

How interesting: we note from the EPSIPlus blog (a bit late – since the job application has long since closed, so if you were wanting to do this, you’ve missed the boat) that Ordnance Survey is seeking a non-executive chair.

How intriguing. I think I’m right in saying that none of the other trading funds is chaired; and as the advert itself says, “It is within the plan to modernise the governance of Ordnance Survey; as a result Ordnance Survey are seeking to appoint the first Non-executive Chair in the organisations’ [sic] 217-year history.”

We hear that the appointee will probably be chosen sometime this month.

So what sort of person are they looking for?

The ideal candidate will be an experienced Chair who understands how to build commercial opportunities in the public sector and who has the intellect to take forward a challenging debate about Ordnance Survey’s future strategy. S/he will have experience of change.

Of change? Change, at OS? Why? How utterly fascinating.

The ad itself (click for larger version) says the role requires that they “develop and champion a clear and compelling strategy to a broad range of stakeholders; ensure the board is effective in delivering a strategy balancing the nation’s interest with commercial imperatives [emphasis added – CA]; scrutinise performance and governance structures in line with owner’s objectives. Evaluate board skills mix and performance.”

As if that wasn’t interesting enough..

Here are the “key responsibilities” laid out in the document:

The key responsibilities are to:

  • Ensure that the Board as a whole is effective in developing a strategy and corporate business plans for Ordnance Survey, scrutinising its performance against the endorsed plans and acting in the best interests of the Department for Communities and Local Government as shareholder, while balancing the need for Ordnance Survey to act in the nation’s interest within in a commercially competitive environment;
  • Ensure that the shareholder receives full and timely feedback on the organisation’s business performance, its progress against plans, the future development of the Corporate Plan, and any other issues requiring attention;
  • Ensure the maintenance of an effective board, with an appropriate balance of skills and experience, including key appointments as required. The Chair will be part of the selection panel for the recruitment of any new Chief Executive and Non-executive Directors;
  • Ensure appropriate governance arrangements are established and implemented in line with best practice and the requirements of a public body;
  • Actively contribute to the management of relationships with Ordnance Survey’s stakeholders both in Whitehall, the devolved administrations and beyond, and represent Ordnance Survey as appropriate with customers and industry players;
  • Acts as a source of advice and support on business issues to the Chief Executive and other Executives as necessary.
  • The Chair is responsible for upholding good governance at Ordnance Survey. S/he will ensure appropriate and effective Board sub-committees exist and will, in consultation with the Chief Executive, determine Board meeting frequency and agenda. A key role is to ensure that all Non-executive Directors are effective in the support and challenge they provide to the Executive team.

The Shareholder Executive, working for the Department for Communities and Local Government, takes a close interest in the performance management of Ordnance Survey. The Chair is expected to work constructively with senior Shareholder Executive officials.

The candidate is expected to have the usual abilities concomitant with these jobs – bulging address book, Cabinet ministers and heads of industry mobile numbers on speed dial, ability to leap tall buildings and to cure sick animals with their magic touch, that sort of thing.

On its face, it doesn’t look like the successful candidate will die from overwork: three or four days a month, which earns an annual remuneration of £40,000 – £50,000. But of course that would be to ignore how important this job will be. We’re looking forward to seeing who it is.

Obviously, if you’ve applied, do feel free to share the experience..

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