David Doughty joined BSAVA as its Governance Consultant at the end of 2015. A physicist and engineer by training, David has been involved with a number of businesses, particularly in the IT sector, and was one of the first people in the country to become a Chartered Director. He has considerable corporate governance expertise and is an experienced Non‑Executive Director in both the public and private sectors. David often comments in social media about board development and corporate governance.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE ROLE WITH BSAVA?
This is a newly created role and the candidate requirements were a very close match for my own background, skills and qualifications. I have always been a great believer in professionalism and have been an active member in various professional bodies relevant to my career at the time – starting with the Institute of Physics, Institution of Electrical Engineers, British Computer Society, before I moved from Industrial Physicist to Electrical Engineer and IT Professional before moving into sales and marketing where I joined the Chartered Institute of Marketing and later became a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Marketors.
When I got my first main board appointment I joined the Institute of Directors and have worked closely with them to develop their Chartered Director Qualification. I have also worked in and around the NHS for the last 15 years and there are many parallels between the worlds of human and animal health.
WHAT FUNCTION DOES THIS ROLE PERFORM – WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO BSAVA?
The role is very similar to that of a Non-Executive Director, which is best summed up by the two words ‘critical friend’ – in other words someone who can stand back from the day-to-day running of BSAVA and cast a critical eye over the way it is being run, providing constructive criticism and challenge together with advice and support drawn from best practice in other sectors.
Everyone involved in decision-making at BSAVA is completely immersed in the world of the veterinary profession and is passionate about making the organisation successful – bringing someone in from outside, with different experiences and perspectives provides a sense-check and an independent sounding-board to help Council and Officers make the right decisions.
Governance is often seen as the rules and regulations which provide the framework within which an organisation operates – which is partly true, but governance is also about making sure that the organisation makes the best use of its resources and takes full advantage of any opportunities that are identified.
HOW WILL YOUR EXPERIENCES INFORM WHAT YOU BRING TO BSAVA?
My experience as a Chair, Non-Executive Director, Trustee and Governor in the private, public and voluntary sectors has given me a great insight into what works well and what does not work so well in running a Board effectively – and providing effective governance to an organisation.
In addition to my practical experience I can also draw on the theoretical knowledge provided by the Diploma in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors, the Masters in Company Direction from Leeds Business School and the Chartered Director qualification from the Institute of Directors.
WHAT WILL YOU BE LOOKING TO ACHIEVE IN YOUR FIRST YEAR?
Initially I will be looking to get to know everyone and find out how the organisation works. Then I will be looking at the current governance arrangements to see how they compare with those of other organisations and making suggestions for any improvements which can be made. One of the areas I will be looking at is the use of words used to describe governance in BSAVA and how they translate to the words used to describe the same roles and functions in other sectors –
and then to make sure that everyone has the same understanding of what the words mean. At times I am going to come across as quite pedantic but I think it is quite important to get the language right in order to have a shared understanding. I will also be looking to help out with practical advice where I can.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION?
I am very impressed by the high level of professionalism that I have seen already – particularly in terms of the communication between BSAVA and its members and the quality of the literature produced in house. The commitment to CPD and the general high level of interest in development and keeping abreast of the latest innovations in animal care is also very evident.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE OF THE VETERINARY PROFESSION BEFORE NOW?
Only as a customer – I currently have 3 cats, and previously had a total of 8 cats (not all at the same time) and my parents had two dogs – all of whom needed to be seen by a vet at some stage. I was always impressed by the vets (and nurses) I had dealings with, not only for the level of care that they demonstrated but also their manner.
YOUR FIRST DEGREE WAS IN APPLIED PHYSICS – HOW DOES HAVING A SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND INFORM YOUR APPROACH TO MANAGEMENT AND PROBLEM SOLVING?
Management and problem solving always involve a balance between head and heart. A scientific background enables the dispassionate gathering of facts, the development and analysis of possible solutions together with the presentation of the best option. This means that I can usually identify a process which will lead to effective decision-making.
However, although Physics has laws, they are very much like legal laws – they change, given enough evidence, to fit in with observed facts – so if the decision-making process comes up with the wrong answer then it is the process that is at fault. So whilst I think that it is important to come up with a well-reasoned argument for any decision (from the head) it is also important to not lose sight of what the right answer is (from the heart).
From BSAVA Companion March 2016