Institute of Directors names Stephen Martin as new director general

Jake Cordell
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The Institute of Directors' new chief will have to guide the organisation - and its members - through Brexit
The Institute of Directors' new chief will have to guide the organisation - and its members - through Brexit

Top lobby group The Institute of Directors (IoD) will today announce who will be taking over as its new director general - a role dubbed “the bosses’ boss”.

Stephen Martin, a long-standing IoD member with a background in industry, has secured the high-profile position as chief of the 113-year old organisation after an eight-month long recruitment process.

The appointment marks a move towards a less high-profile and more commercially-focused top dog at the IoD, with Martin expected to play a hands-on role in the running and development of the organisation.

Outgoing director general Simon Walker was appointed in 2011, at the height of the financial crisis, after a 37-year career in journalism, communications, politics and lobbying. He became the public face of much of the IoD's policy work having been a well-known and well-connected operator in Westminster and the media. Walker served as special adviser to Prime Minister John Major and communications director for British Airways, Reuters and Buckingham Palace.

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Walker raised eyebrows in corners of the City as an early advocate of taking an aggressive stance against excessive executive pay. He backed many of the measures and proposals introduced in the wake of the financial crisis and has since banged the drum for reform in corporate governance and business conduct.

Chairman Barbara Judge and chief economist James Sproule are expected to take a more visible role in the IoD’s policy work under Martin, leaving the new director general to focus on continuing the organisation’s internal revamp started under Walker.

Martin is currently CEO of Scunthorpe-based construction and engineering firm Clugston Group. He will step down to take up the position around the turn of the year.

Barbara Judge was announced as the chairman of the IoD in February 2015. She is expected to play a more visible role in the organisation's policy and media work under the new director general.

Judge said: “Stephen has demonstrated his commercial ability at large and small companies over many years and will continue the excellent work of Simon Walker.

“He understands the challenges faced by company directors across the UK and I look forward to working closely with him.”

Martin, who is a fellow of the IoD and heavily involved in its regional network, said: “I am very excited to be taking on this new challenge. The IoD’s mission to provide excellent professional development for directors is hugely important to ensuring British companies are well-run, and I look forward to continuing innovation in director training.”

The IoD recorded its first annual increase in members since 2001 last year after launching a new premium membership package and the IoD 99 network aimed at supporting younger entrepreneurs.