In June, All Together hosted our first ever in-person event, ‘The Founder’s Dilemma: Succession’, with the support of our partners, Investec, the specialist bank and wealth manager. We were joined by an exceptional panel, each of whom described their own experience of succession and offered priceless advice for how to make the process as smooth and successful as possible.
Kicking off the event was keynote and CEO of Investec Bank plc, Ruth Leas, whose own story of succession – spending the last 24 years at the bank in various roles, before eventually being appointed CEO in 2019 – was brilliantly apt for the occasion.
While Ruth’s ascension to her current role coincided with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was clear that its sudden, global impact was simply a learning experience, and not something to let dampen her spirit. “COVID was a big shock for everyone”, she began, “but ever since then we’ve just had to roll up our sleeves, get stuck in, and use our muscles of adaptability.” Ruth remembered a phone call she received from one of the founders of Investec – shortly after the lockdowns of the Covid pandemic began – in which he offered his advice. “Don’t panic, that was the message he had for me”, she said. “I was told in two years, I would look back on this as the greatest learning experience of all time.” And Ruth took that advice and never looked back; Investec plc now ranks 9th in terms of revenue generation in the UK relative to the high street banks and other financial services operators, which is no mean feat given the stiff competition they have to contend with.
As someone who has succeeded and worked with founders herself, Ruth has first-hand experience of a situation that is bestrewn with potential pitfalls and difficulties. Given the fact she has been so successful in what must be an incredibly high-pressure, challenging position, to describe her as an authority on the subject of succession would not be an exaggeration. Therefore, she was the perfect candidate to kick off the event with her Three Things – three pieces of actionable advice – that founders should implement to give their succession the best chance of success.