Meet the Chartered Manager: The golf bag leader
At the height of his career James Boag was responsible for 1,100 soldiers in one of the British Army’s largest regiments. Now working as an operations and project manager, Boag credits CMI’s Chartered Manager process with paving the way for his successful career transitionMatt Scott
The days of staying in one industry sector for your whole career are long gone. Senior leaders now regularly move between industries.
For James Boag, Fellow of CMI, careful planning and preparation underpin a successful career move.
At the height of his army career, James Boag was second in command of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery with responsibility for 1,100 soldiers, one of the largest regiments in the British Army. Such a prominent, 17-year career moulded Boag into a versatile leader, and helped develop what he calls his ‘golf bag’ approach to management.
Today, he works for AIM-listed specialist pharmaceuticals company Shield Therapeutics as an operations and project manager looking at the development and commercialisation of secondary care-focused pharmaceutical products.
Without his commitment to personal development while still in the army, Boag believes he wouldn’t be where he is today.
“Looking at leadership and management, it is fine to say that, as an officer, you are competent in managing and leading people, but if you want to take that to a civilian employer, you need to be able to very quickly synthesise what you’ve done.”
For Boag, the Chartered Manager process provided the pathway: “The British Army funded me. It has an annual budget that allows every individual to undertake personal development or join a professional body. Through that I got involved with CMI. My own managers were very keen and supportive in my application.”
Boag was aided in his application for Chartered Manager by credits from an MSc from Cranfield University and an MBA – both funded by the army.
The shift from the short-term objectives of a tour of Afghanistan to the longer-term focus on monetisation of projects at Shield Therapeutics has challenged Boag, but the intellectual disciplines of the Chartered Manager award have been instrumental.
“It is easy to get carried along at work so, on a personal basis, it’s good to have your experience assessed by CMI. This gives you the added confidence that you are remaining current as management techniques change,” Boag says. “It then helps me, when I’m talking to colleagues, to make suggestions about how we could approach things. It also allows me to reflect on situations if things haven’t gone so well, to examine why, and think about improvements.”
Boag is a tall, imposing figure, but his management style is anything but autocratic: “Mine is a ‘golf bag’ approach to management; you must use the right management style for the moment. There are few occasions when you need to be autocratic: more often you need to be consultative and persuasive, using authentic leadership and applying emotional intelligence.”
People need to know what the objectives are, and also why you’re taking a particular course of action, he adds.
So what is Boag’s advice to other senior leaders on staying relevant in a fast-changing world?
“I aim to complete a course every year to build my CV and develop myself personally. I know people, who have had full careers, who haven’t done any qualifications, and it’s very hard then to sell that experience. Chartered Manager gives you something to demonstrate what you have achieved.”