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The 2019 Non-Executive Directors' Association Annual Debate

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16 October 2019


16:30 - 19:30


Smith & Williamson, 25 Moorgate, London, EC2R 6AY



On Wednesday 16 October 2019, the Non-Executive Directors’ Association (‘NEDA’) and Smith & Williamson are hosting the annual NED Debate, in association with Company Matters (part of the Link Group).


“This House believes tomorrow’s boards must not appoint the NEDs of today”

The background: 

Board composition remains under scrutiny as never before. The concept of "over-boarded" directors sitting on too many boards and a lack of real diversity of background, skills and experience are frequently questioned.

The third Annual Debate will seek to explore why Boards still appear to be locked in a syndrome of appointing new members in their own image and the resulting consequences of too much "groupthink" around the board table. Equally, with continued examples of corporate failure arising from accounting and other scandals and the potential for companies to face fines for regulatory transgressions, the traditional NED skillsets would appear to be needed as much as ever.


The Debate Chairman will be Barry Gamble who has previously chaired a number of NED debates. In adopting the debate format to explore this very topical issue we are recognising there may be a close parallel between a debate and a boardroom. In each situation, there must be careful listening, respect for the opposing view and an atmosphere of constructive challenge to allow insights to fully develop. A good decision will hopefully result through the examination of alternative approaches.


The formal debate style really has its place particularly when tackling difficult and contentious topics. The debaters will be speaking without PowerPoint, presentations or props and relying on words alone to persuade and win over the Floor.


The Debate teams have been hand-picked to provide a range of views and perspectives.

Proposing the motion:

  • Professor Heather McGregor, CBE, Executive Dean, Edinburgh (Heriot Watt) Business School, Chairman Taylor Bennett, NED International Game Technology plc, NED Non Standard Finance plc, “Mrs Moneypenny of Financial Times”, founding member 30% Club, seconded by:
  • Neil Kirton, Managing Director, Kroll Associates UK, Chairman Warehouse REIT plc, NED Ingenta plc

Opposing the motion:

  • Judith Mackenzie, Partner and Head of Public Equity, Downing LLP, NED Really Good Food plc, NED Quoted Companies Alliance. seconded by:
  • Ash Mehta, CFO Rosslyn Data Technologies plc, NED Northbridge Industrial Services plc.

[Note: No one should assume that the debater's personal views either do or do not coincide with the side of the motion for which they are arguing].

The Debate will be a lively, interactive session with an indicative vote on the Motion at each end of the formal debating process and in the past votes have moved and been swayed by both the debaters and participants from the Floor - we therefore encourage YOU to attend and to get involved and make a difference from the Floor.


Smith & Williamson, 25 Moorgate, London, EC2R 6AY


16:30 - 17:00 - Arrivals & Registration
17:00 - 18:30 - The Debate
18:30 onwards - Drinks & Networking


“I really liked the format and the way it was facilitated and set up” 

“Excellent job and the format allowed more easily for contrasting points of view. The participants did a very good job - nice balance of views and styles” 

“I thought the debate itself was great with some very interesting leaders and proposals with great chairing by Barry 

“9/10... Don’t ask me what would get a 10/10, but you have to leave something to go for next time!”

“10/10 for a debate rather than a speech. Excellent choice of panel of speakers and inclusion of the floor” 

“Very well chaired by Barry Gamble. Brave speakers”

“This was a very good event, the speakers/debaters were excellent and the location very good”

“I enjoyed the evening and learnt a good deal. Nothing but good things to say about it!”

“A very good debate, superbly hosted by Barry!... I just disagreed with the result!”

Please note that attendee name and organisation details will be passed to Smith & Williamson in order to process registrations for this event.

For further information e-mail:

Event host and main sponsor:


Event run in association with:



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