Boardroom Centre Case Study: Preparing for the Journey Ahead - Simtech Aviation
When Sé Pardy and Fergal Keogh of Simtech Aviation approached the IoD’s Boardroom Centre, they were looking for an experienced non-executive director to join their board as chairperson, which up until that point consisted only of Sé and Fergal. Having been in business together for over 10 years, both were keen to leverage and capitalise on new opportunities for growth and so the appointment of a non-executive chairperson, who could offer independent and entrepreneurial expertise, was a natural step.
Simtech Aviation is a flight training company based in North Dublin and counts airlines such as Aer Lingus, Ryanair and City Jet among its clients, as well as offering pilot and flight training to individuals.
The appointment of a non-executive chairperson was a significant move for the company and they chose to use the independent services of the IoD’s Boardroom Centre to assist with the process. “Having decided to appoint a non-executive chairperson, the IoD’s Boardroom Centre provided a professional and seamless service, taking time to get to know our unique business and providing a list of candidates with the skill-sets required based on our specific business needs,” said Fergal Keogh.
Having interviewed a shortlist of suitable candidates who matched their criteria, the company ultimately selected and appointed Stephen Cloonan, a seasoned non-executive director who has experience working across a range of businesses.
Stephen came with significant business experience in a variety of areas and, according to Sé Pardy, has made a significant contribution to the business in terms of corporate governance, branding and communication and strategic planning. “Bringing Stephen on board has been a great way to get us to look outside of our shell. As a business owner, you get so locked into one way of doing things that it’s just great to have someone say, ‘Did you ever think of doing this?’”
Stephen Cloonan has been a non-executive director for 18 years working with SMEs in Ireland and in the US including Firstcom (advertising, marketing and digital solutions), Shaws Department Stores and Bewley’s. He previously ran his own electronics business, Harry Moore, which he sold to Dixons in 1997.
Stephen believes that trust is central to the non-executive and owner-manager dynamic. “You have to trust the people in the company or the relationship won’t work, particularly in a small business and when you are not there day-to-day. When managers are ready to move to the next level, bringing in a non-executive director offers guidance, objective advice and an outside view, which can be hugely beneficial.”
Thora Mackey, who heads up the IoD’s Boardroom Centre, says there has been a steady increase in SME and family companies keen to bring non-executive expertise to their business. Traditionally, non-executive directors were seen as the domain of large corporations, however, more and more SMEs are now realising that, for a reasonable fee, they can access a huge amount of experience and expertise, as well as unlock potential networks.
“We are very grateful to the IoD for their assistance in what, for Simtech, has been one of our best business decisions,” said Sé Pardy.