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The 2019 Non-Executive Directors’ Association NED Debate – The Debate Report

On Wednesday 16 October 2019, the Non-Executive Directors’ Association (‘NEDA’) and Smith & Williamson hosted 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 third Annual Debate sought 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 Chairman

Barry Gamble, an experienced Chairman of debates and of companies. 

The Debaters

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 and Sunday 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.

Although the Motion was carried by a final 69% majority against an indictive vote of 68%, opinion did swing during the debate in terms of the strong arguments expressed on both sides, and in particular with the discussion and interaction from the Floor.

Overall it was recognised that NEDs do a difficult job and expectations are now very high, however whilst a small number of corporate failures grab the headlines NEDs are still an essential element of good corporate governance.

The question was posed as to whether a “revolution” is needed for change or should we build on the progress to date. Either way NEDs need to hone their skills and experience and keep relevant and up to date, especially in terms of areas such as training, education and personal development.

Read how the debate unfolded by obtaining the Debate Report via the link below.


The Chairman, Debating Teams, Host and Sponsors. From left to right:

Tracey Brady (Debate Sponsor - Company Matters), Neil Kirton & Heather McGregor (The Proposers),
Barry Gamble
(Debate Chairman), Judith Mackenzie & Ash Mehta (The Opposers)
Guy Rigby (Debate Host - Smith & Williamson).



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