Five Highlights from the 2023 CMI President's Dinner

Words CMI Insights / Photography Amanda Forman

The evidence about good and bad management; the new CMI president; and all the 2023 award-winners.

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The public expects institutions and big businesses to show high standards of leadership and management. In 2023, many fell below those standards. We’ve seen toxic cultures allowed to flourish in large and high-profile organisations, erratic leadership behaviours, groupthink and boardrooms struggling to maintain control. 

The 2023 CMI President’s Dinner was a chance to reflect on these issues and, on a more positive note, to celebrate examples of truly inspirational leadership. 

The event, held on 21 November, was attended by CMI partners, volunteers, Companions and supporters from around the world. Here are some highlights.

1. Bad management harms society: fact

“Bad management is bad – on every level,” said CMI’s chief executive Ann Francke OBE in her opening comments. She highlighted findings from CMI’s Better Managed Britain campaign that the UK is “a nation of accidental managers, with four in five promoted with no training in how to manage and lead.” Over half of managers never gain any qualifications. 

This is a huge problem because eight million people in the UK are managers – one in four of the workforce.

“Untrained managers are significantly less capable to lead change, to trust in their teams, and are less comfortable in calling out toxic behaviour in the workplace,” Ann pointed out. It’s no coincidence that the UK is suffering from low productivity and stalled growth.

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At SERC, we very much focus on delivering excellence in terms of leadership skills and behaviours, which of course shapes the organisations that we can help and builds our economy. And not only does it build our economy, it enables better led organisations, but also organisations which present better wellbeing for their members and for their employees.

Jenny McConnell, Deputy Head of School at SERC – Training Provider of the Year

2. But great managers are making a difference

Fortunately, more and more people and organisations are investing in their management capability. When they do, their performance soars. 

Research shows that CMI-trained and Chartered managers are significantly more likely to deliver positive cultures and outcomes, trust their teams, manage change and innovation and call out bad behaviours.

At the President’s Dinner we saluted a selection of managers and leaders who are role models for exemplary management:

James Timpson OBE DL CMgr CCMI – Gold Medal Award winner

  • “Business success depends on the happiness of our colleagues”
  • An upside-down leadership style bagged James Timpson OBE, CEO of Timpson, the CMI Gold Medal. Judges were significantly impressed by James’s work pioneering the recruitment of ex-offenders, upside down culture and equality.
  • Read the full interview here.

  • "Having confidence in people is at the heart of managing and leading"
  • CMI’s 2023 Lifetime Achievement award-winner, Dame Anne Richards DBE, was recognised for her outstanding track record over many years in engineering and financial services, addressing inequality and championing diversity in the workplace, combined with her services to the voluntary sector.
  • She explains her approach to leadership – and why trust is the greatest gift in the full interview here.

  • Jennifer Baines CMgr MCMI was awarded Chartered Manager of the Year, recognising her experience in tackling serious crime across different sectors and enthusiasm about continuous development – for herself and others. Learn more about her work tackling modern slavery here.
  • Highly commended: Dr Godwin Simon CMgr FCMI, whose approach to healthcare is saving thousands of lives. Read more here.

  • "In these particularly challenging times, helping other people is more important than ever."
  • Kirsty Watson CMgr FCMI, CMI regional stakeholder lead for the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside, who works with supporting the development of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, was awarded Volunteer of the Year.
  • Kirsty’s aspiration is to present new knowledge and micro-interventions to manoeuvre individuals of all ages from poverty and associated issues into entrepreneurship.
  • Learn more about her and her management approach here.

  • "I feel very lucky and it's just a recognition of all the cool work that Mott Macdonald has been able to do."
  • David Orr ChMC, who also won Times Consultant of the Year, was awarded the Chartered Management Consultant of the Year award. Judges described him as "an amazing individual who was nominated for the sheer impact of his work and his great dedication".
  • Highly commended: Georgina Nesbitt (née Letts) ChMC and Ellie Wilkes ChMC

  • "It feels amazing. I think my team will be really pleased as well. It just is a way to show that the work that we've done together has been recognised. It will really help us continue to provide good medical research in the dementia area."
  • Ellie Pickering CMgr FCMI, project manager at the University of Exeter, was awarded Outstanding Student of the Year in recognition of her work overseeing the growth of a large multidisciplinary operations team to deliver a complex medical research portfolio of work involving digital development, clinical trials, data management, and project management.

  • "It feels great. I mean, I'm here celebrating my own achievements, celebrating the work that the third sector does, celebrating the work that my charity, the Bone Cancer Research Trust, does. So to be able to represent all of those different aspects feels fantastic."
  • Will Burchell CMgr FCMI won Outstanding Apprentice of the Year. By the commencement of his CMI apprenticeship, he had progressed to a director level role. Will undertook the apprenticeship after reflecting on his training and development to this point, and recognising that it had largely been vocational, and reliant on his natural leadership style to achieve results.
  • The CMI Apprenticeship has been fundamental in equipping Will with the skills and experience to take the next step in his career.

  • "We work really hard on developing responsible leadership through all education programs, so it's fantastic to get the recognition from the CMI for the work that we do."
  • Rachael Johnstone collected the award on behalf of the University of Exeter, which was awarded Outstanding Higher Education Partner of the Year.

  • "We very much focus on leadership practice and making sure that leaders become more consciously aware of their decisions, become more emotionally intelligent in their actions, and therefore can lead and manage their organisations to a better output. And by doing so can deliver a better economic output."
  • Jenny McConnell, Deputy Head of School, collected the Outstanding Training Provider of the Year award on behalf of South Eastern Regional College.


3. Globally, their impact is growing

The incoming CMI president Fiona Dawson pointed out that the number of Chartered Managers globally grew by 23% in 2022–23. CMI is seeing record levels of registration for its qualifications, at all levels – from existing managers to undergraduates. “Honestly, I feel optimistic,” she said. 

Fiona outlined three priorities for her presidency:

  • To promote CMI’s vision of creating better managed and led organisations, and be the home for management and leadership.
  • To build on the work of the Everyone Economy campaign, with a new advisory board led by Sir Trevor Phillips.
  • To ensure that CMI’s Chartered offer reaches a more diverse cohort of people and more organisations.

Read our profile of the new CMI president and watch her in conversation in CMI’s Leading Lights series.

4. Kindness and trust underpin great management

Gold Medal Award winner James Timpson is one of the UK’s most visionary leaders. Receiving his award, he said that Timpson is underpinned on kindness and trust: “The more we run the business on the principles of kindness and trust, the better we seem to do: more customers come into our shops, colleagues are happier, we make more money.” It’s a lesson for all managers and leaders.

You can read a profile of the Timpson CEO here, including his pioneering work in recruiting prison-leavers. 

[Good management is] listening and understanding what the needs are of the people that you're managing and making sure that you allow them to let you lead. Because you can't just go in there and expect to manage and override everything. It needs to be a joint effort with your team and for you to be an effective manager.

Kirsty Watson, Volunteer of the Year 2023

5. Work hard and stay curious

In recognition of her dedication to financial services, women, education, science, and her ongoing work in embedding inclusive cultures across the workplace, Dame Anne Richards was awarded CMI’s Lifetime Achievement award. She said her parents instilled in her some important values: “work hard, get a good education, don’t borrow more than you can afford – and stay curious.” They’ve been her anchor and compass over the years.

“Nothing ever really prepares you for leadership,” she observed. “The highs and lows of it, the sudden crises, the big wins, the crushing failures and the pleasure in watching the people around you grow.

“That’s why you can’t wait until you feel ready to take the next step, you have to make the leap regardless.”

You can read our profile of Dame Anne Richards here.

[Management training] is really important. Since I’ve been doing qualifications with the CMI, I've learned so much about myself, about my style and about my notes like that. The learning that I've done over the last year has impacted the way that I act as a manager and the way that I treat my staff and the way that I want to improve. And I want to make sure that my staff improve continuously. Every single day it improves the way that I work.

Jennifer Baines CMgr – CMgr of the Year