Chairing the Lab board

Outgoing Chair of trustees, Sue Charman, reflects on her time with the Lab and what she thinks makes the Lab so special.

My journey with the Lab started over a decade ago when I joined WWF-UK. The Finance Innovation Lab had just started and WWF-UK was in the process of partnering with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) on the project. I supported the co-founders Jen Morgan, Charlotte Millar, Rachel Sinha and Richard Spencer as the project evolved and eventually became an independent charity.

I remained involved in the Lab as a trustee and was pleased to be able to support the recruitment of both our CEOs, a new Chair and, in 2019, the expansion of the board of trustees from three members to thirteen!

I took on the role of Chair at a time when the organisation was about to undergo significant change. Our fantastic inaugural CEO, Anna Fielding was moving on, our expanded new board were getting settled in and we were starting to develop a new ten year strategy. Despite all the challenges facing us, we have recruited an excellent new CEO, Jesse Griffiths, almost completed the new strategy, and stabilised the Lab’s finances. The board continues to grow and work very effectively together.

As I near the completion of my second term, and so must step down from the board, I have been reflecting on the past ten years of working with the Lab. What has driven me and the rest of the board to want to work with the Lab, support each other and to derive huge pleasure in contributing to the Lab’s vision and mission?

Firstly, it lies in our commitment to the Lab’s purpose – building a financial system that serves people and planet. We do this by cultivating a powerful community of systems-changemakers, and working with them on strategies that can transform the financial system.

Secondly, it lies in the Lab’s ability to define its core values and its continued commitment to be led by its values in everything it does. Being explicit about our values helps us embed them into the DNA of the Lab – and has been crucial to our success. It has become the shorthand that allows us to work efficiently towards our transformative vision and support our development and growth. Our values live through positive behaviour and reflection, rather than having to ‘read out the rules’.

The central values of the Lab’s culture, recently refreshed as part of our new strategy, are:

Ambition – holding true to our transformative vision with bravery while seeking to learn and grow.
Collaboration – achieving change with others who share our ambition, being accountable, and acting with humility.
Empowerment – approaching ourselves and others with love and care, acting in solidarity with those marginalised by the financial system, and creating spaces where everyone can participate.

By living and breathing these values in everything we do, the Lab team and board are inclusive, optimistic and reflective in their approach. As a board we are diverse, but aligned around the Lab’s core values. We have different viewpoints and ways of seeing the world, and we embrace this difference to debate and discuss issues to reach a stronger position.

I will miss my involvement with the Lab, but I know I leave it in good hands, with a superb team, an excellent CEO, a strong board and an exciting new strategy.

I wish the new Chair all the best – it is a fantastic opportunity!

Applications for our board Chair position close on 28 September. Find out more and apply here.