Giving a new Board guidelines to channel and focus their commitment
Compassion in World Farming
“The test of the true value of a working relationship is often its longevity, and the fact that more than 15 years later I’m still calling David and still finding that he welcomes my call says it all.”
Philip Lymbery, CEO, Compassion in World Farming International
Compassion in World Farming is the leading international farmed animal welfare organisation, founded in 1967 to campaign for an end to factory farming. CEO Philip Lymbery has been in post since 2005, during which time the organisation has grown from a UK based charity with around 35 staff and a turnover of £2m, to an international organisation turning over £16m and employing nearly 200 people in 12 countries on 4 continents.
Along the way there have been many challenges and growing pains and Philip has found a regular mentor and sounding board in Action Planning Chairman David Saint.
“I first met David when he was facilitating a workshop at an international retreat for animal welfare CEOs in Italy, which must have been around 2007. I was impressed with his approach to the subject of strategy, fundraising and governance and we’ve worked together in some shape or form ever since.”
The charity undertakes a governance review every five years or so and David has facilitated this on two occasions. Beyond those heavy duty set pieces, he has provided Philip with independent, objective feedback when he has wanted advice on governance and general organisational strategy.
“We've discussed all manner of things, from best practice governance to international structures, objectives setting and general developmental strategy for the organisation,” says Philip. “I tend to ring him up out of the blue. More often than not he’s able to speak to me at the time or we agree a later moment. We’ve also had more structured sessions where we’ve met every three months and discussed the matters of the day.
“Usually when I call up David I’m going with a challenge that I've not come up against before, but he has. For example, the international structure for our offices: how to best put together offices on four continents and make it work and make the personalities work together. It’s issues like this where I need someone I can confide in, who is not deeply associated with our community and is not closely involved with the organisation. I know that in talking to David it's not going to go any further.
“No issue is too knotty or difficulty for him to unpack and put together in a way that helps me. He draws on his experience and expertise in charity governance, management and development and he’s always applied that to my situation.”
“David has been a big support in making sure that as CEO I’m able to serve the board in a way that achieves the objectives of the organisation. What I've always welcomed is his objectivity, his ability to stand back, understand where you’re trying to get to and to give advice that will enable you to achieve your goal.
“He’s never afraid to tell you what he thinks is a wrong approach. I see him as the Mr Spock of the consultancy world. He’s always had that extra-sensory ability to understand what I’m trying to do and is able to advise how to get there.
“And the great thing about David is he’s a good listener and he always gives good advice at the right level. I've never once felt like he is treating me like I was born yesterday. He gives his advice objectively, plainly, constructively, in a way that gives you a solution that you can work with. I've always found that immensely valuable.
“I have really appreciated the support that David has given me, particularly in the early years when I was finding my feet and overcoming significant foundational changes. Having that confidant and reliable guide was immense and hugely appreciated.”
It has been a genuine privilege to provide occasional support and advice to Philip over the years. He is a man not only totally committed to the cause, but also to doing the right thing, and to doing things right. Philip is enormously able and wise, but some of that wisdom includes knowing when the time is right to seek a second opinion, sound out an idea on someone objective, or occasionally to commission a ‘deeper dive’ piece of work.