Updated Guidance on holding AGM’s under COVID-19 Restrictions

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Moon Executive Search, Faculty of Business and Law Advisory Board member, have published a blog outlining guidance on holding AGM’s under the restrictions of coronavirus. Originally posted on Moon Executive Search.

The Quoted Companies Alliance is a high-profile membership organisation that champions small to mid-sized quoted companies.

To enable their membership to address the practical challenges of holding an annual general meeting (AGM) during the COVID-19 pandemic, the QCA supported the production of guidance by The Chartered Governance Institute (ICSA) alongside a collection of legal firms, the Financial Reporting Council, the  Investment Association, and The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who all reviewed and contributed to the guidance.


Businesses and organisations must continue to make the crucial decisions.

Vanessa Moon said: ‘This is a relationship that we greatly value, particularly as many of our clients are listed. We have found their resources to be extremely relevant and timely and we were delighted when Tim Ward their CEO shared this new guidance with us.’

Tim Ward, CEO of the QCA, said that: “The QCA has an impressive membership group and together we have strong collective influence – these are unprecedented times and at the forefront of our activity is our commitment and capacity to support our members. We are pleased to work with the ICSA and others collectively to produce this guidance on AGMs quickly to provide our members with information on how to navigate their regulatory obligations and make decisions needed to carry out their business.“


The Guidance outlines five options that companies can take:

1.       Adapt the basis on which they hold the AGM

2.       Delay convening the AGM, if notice has not yet been issued

3.       Postpone the AGM, if permitted under the articles of association

4.       Adjourn the AGM

5.       Conduct a hybrid AGM, if permitted under the articles of association

For more information, click here.            


The Stay at Home Measures make it harder to have an AGM but not impossible.

With the increasing impact of COVID-19, businesses are under pressure to transform to ‘the new normal’ but the AGM that is required by law cannot go ahead due to social distancing measures. At a time of great uncertainty, companies and their directors will need to focus on making the critical decisions that will enable them to get through the period with least disruption. One fully attended meeting would put the entire company and their families at risk.

However, chairing a quorate meeting may necessitate just ‘two director and/or employee shareholders of the company attending the meeting, with resolutions being passed by the proxy votes of those who have not been able to attend in person’.

The Stay at Home Measures make it harder to have an AGM but not impossible. Appropriate social distancing measures should be observed by the small number of attendees at a physical meeting and shaking hands is obviously off the table.

Whilst we must all take the utmost precaution in preventing the spread of COVID-19, businesses and organisations must continue to make the crucial decisions to survive and thrive in theses testing times.

For more information about how to safely conduct an AGM click here for the guidance from ICSA.


Quoted Companies Alliance
Quoted Companies Alliance

The QCA has also created a new COVID-19 hub (“The Lockdown Lowdown”) on its website to help QCA members. The Hub includes information on regulatory updates, government support schemes available for companies and the work the QCA is doing on behalf of its members. The Hub also bring together content from member advisory firms to help small and mid-sized quoted companies. Members can access the Hub here.

Quote from Tim Ward, who is the Chief Executive of the Quoted Companies Alliance since 2009.

“The QCA and our members are committed to playing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are proud of how our members have responded by innovating and adapting their business practices and continue to make the difficult decisions to ensure their companies are sustainable in the long term. The role of the QCA to support and act as the voice of small to mid-sized quoted companies is more important than ever and we are committed to doing everything possible to support our members through COVID-19.”

Alta case study: the importance of mentoring platforms

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Due to Covid-19, we are all facing uncertainty and change in our personal and professional lives. It is more important than ever to stay in touch with people in your professional circle and get support from mentorship programmes. We recently spoke with Susan Durbin and Stella Warren who are founding members of the alta mentoring scheme, a bespoke industry-wide mentoring programme designed for women/by women, in the aviation and aerospace industry, and also Rosalind Azouzi who is a key member of the alta Steering Committee, also offering administrative support for alta, on behalf of the Society. They have answered our questions about the platform, the importance of having a mentor and their advice in these unprecedented times.

Susan Durbin is Professor of Employment Studies/Human Resource Management, at Bristol Business School, UWE Bristol. She specialises in researching women’s employment in male dominated areas. She has published her work in a number of leading academic journals and is the author of, Women Who Succeed: strangers in Paradise? (2015) published by Palgrave Macmillan. Susan works with organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, to improve gender equality and support for women. She is also an active member of the Bristol Women’s Commission Women in Business Task Group, a Trustee with Fair Play South West, the gender equality network, and a member of the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Women’s Committee at the Royal Aeronautical Society. She is a Chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Stella Warren is a Research Fellow in the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre with a background in applied social research. She supports a wide range of research project teams within Bristol Business School and also teaches research methods at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Her expertise includes social marketing and the understanding of psychological pathways for behaviour change in health; gender and inequality in organisations; the gender pay gap; and women working in male-dominated industries. She is a member of the British and European Sociological Association and on the board of the Research Network ‘Gender Relations, Labour Markets and the Welfare State (RN14).

Rosalind Azouzi is Head of Skills and Careers at the Royal Aeronautical Society. Rosalind supports the talent pipeline into the industry, from outreach programs for school children, to careers advice and support for early career professionals. Rosalind has a remit over the wider skills agenda, with a focus on diversity and inclusion. She sits on a number of committees and groups, including the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Committee, The Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter and the Aerospace Growth Partnership.

What is the alta mentoring scheme?

Launched on International Women’s Day (8th March) in 2019, the alta mentoring platform is the first scheme of its kind operating in the global aviation and aerospace industry. It is the result of a one year, ESRC-funded Knowledge Exchange project and the matched financial and in-kind contributions from the industry partners (The Royal Aeronautical Society, Airbus and the Royal Air Force). The year-long project involved research led by Professor Susan Durbin and Stella Warren (UWE Bristol) and Dr Ana Lopes (Newcastle University) to design and launch a mentoring scheme designed, ‘for women/by women’. The aim was to provide a mentoring scheme for professional women across the industry, based upon what women wanted from mentoring with an industry wide mentoring platform, to provide career and social support and build a community of women across the industry.

In practical terms, any professional women in the industry wishing to join alta, registers to join with the Royal Aeronautical Society and the request is moderated by RAeS staff. Once the applicant is accepted, they will receive an email and asked to sign in (creating a password) and complete a series of matching questions. The in-built algorithm sorts through the mentee’s answers to these questions and comes up with the top three mentor matches (mentors also complete the same set of matching questions). The mentee then decides which mentor to approach and makes a request through the system. Once the mentee and mentor are matched, they decide how and when to meet. Alta is a safe and secure environment, through which communications and meeting dates can be organised. There are supporting materials, such as an alta handbook, videos and mentor/mentee training.

What are the benefits of having an online mentor/what does online mentorship usually involve?

There are a number of benefits to having a mentor, especially for women who work in male dominated environments, such as the aviation and aerospace sector. The sector has a skills shortage, which could be partly addressed through the recruitment and retention of more women (women comprise just 4% of pilots and 10% of engineers in this industry, with very few occupying senior leadership positions). Mentoring can therefore be a key retention tool as women who have mentors can feel a sense of belonging, feel more valued, gain the support they need to progress their careers and make use of a ‘safe space’ where they can talk to a trusted mentor, about personal and work related challenges. Despite these benefits of mentoring, it is a rare resource for many women in male dominated sectors, which alta was designed to address.

On-line mentoring platforms, such as alta, have several advantages in comparison to face-to-face mentoring, including the exchange of knowledge, development of individual capabilities and sharing of identification with the mentor’s expertise. There is a body of academic research that highlights the benefits of on-line mentoring platforms. These include online mentoring transcending organisational and geographical boundaries, making it widely accessible and a benefit to under-represented groups; increased interaction between mentors and mentees; easier access to information; and feeling supported. It is also important to note, however, that online communication can be more impersonal and if mentoring is provided solely online, the support provided by the mentor can be less useful. This makes blended mentoring schemes that combine face-to-face and online facilities, such as alta, ideal.

Online women’s spaces can be less of a challenge as they offer a ‘virtual’ and convenient means through which women can connect and support one another. They can help address marginalisation, isolation and exclusion and ensure that they are comfortable expressing their needs in a ‘woman to woman’ environment. They can also be a means by which to challenge the male dominance of workplaces.

Given the current situation with many people working from home due to Coronavirus, how can a mentor best be utilised?

The alta mentoring platform offers mentors and mentees the opportunity to connect via the platform and to join the alta ‘community’, thereafter leaving mentors and mentees free to choose how they conduct their mentoring, e.g. face-to-face or virtually.  Alta members are, in this time of unprecedented crisis, able to enjoy the benefits of the alta on-line mentoring platform. It enables alta members to stay connected and to reach out for help and support when it is most needed.

The value of on-line mentoring has never been so important and it may also become a time for mentors and mentees to take stock of where they are in their careers and where they would like to go; a time for reflection and a re-assessment of where they are and where want to be. Mentoring is a great way to do that. It also gives mentors the opportunity to reach out to other women and even take on some additional mentoring, offering help to those women who most need their support. Mentors can therefore best be utilised via the alta platform, at a safe distance but offering comfort and advice to women who may be feeling especially isolated, vulnerable or lacking confidence if their roles have been furloughed. Or they may simply want to reach out and turn the current situation into a more positive one.

What successes has alta seen?

Alta is embedded into the Royal Aeronautical Society’s careers service and meeting its commitment to achieving gender equality throughout the industry. It is now part of the mentoring ‘offer’ of the founding partners (Airbus, The Royal Air Force and the Royal Aeronautical Society) and in addition, just over 300 individual women have already signed up as mentors and mentees from across the industry. A number of high-profile industry organisations have also joined (e.g. GKN, Safran Landing Systems, Collins Aerospace, Airbus) each making a financial contribution to the scheme, to support its associated member networking events and activities.

A number of additional high-profile organisations are also in the process of signing up. Alta is gradually bringing together competitor companies in the industry, as well as professional women who would otherwise not be in contact. A number of alta networking events have also been held since its launch, including a ‘speed mentoring’ session and a social event in London and an alta promotion/networking event at the UWE Bristol. The team feel it is also important to retain face-to-face mentoring and networking events when the current lockdown is lifted as this enables women to re-focus on their career and personal development as well as make new friends and contacts.

What challenges has alta come across?

During the research phase of the project, the project group, comprising academics and industry partners, operated mostly by consensus, but some challenges between the academic and industry worlds were inevitable. For example, one of the main challenges arose from assumptions around timeframes that needed to be negotiated. While the academic team were used to developing long-term projects, the business partners were used to implementing projects in a matter of months. There was also an on-going process by which participants came to understand – and shape – the role of the researchers within the project as a whole, as well as their own role as project co-owners. As it was the first time most participants engaged with this type of project, finding one’s own role within the project group was a process rather than a given. While the researchers were mostly accustomed to doing research on people, the other participants were accustomed to having people (e.g. consultants) provide a service for them.

Since its launch, the challenge has been to roll alta out to the industry, without saturating the market. The decision was taken to approach a small number of industry employers at a time and open up the scheme to their female professional employees, without inundating the system. This approach has proved fruitful, but it has meant that alta has grown more gradually than we would have liked. Other challenges have involved the initial pilot roll out of alta, to the founding partners, and realizing that more work needed to be done. For example, after piloting, some minor changes were made to the matching questions.

There is a need to gain further funding support for alta, going forward, which will prove to be more of a challenge due to the impact of Covid-19 on the sector. In spite of this, the aim is to maintain the platform, with its free access, to individual women and to encourage organisations within the industry to offer their financial support at a time when their female employees really need it. The alta platform is cost-effective and offers a safe and secure site for women to support one another.

Is now a good time to become a mentor or seek a mentor?

During the current pandemic, the restrictions on movement and new ways of working remotely have resulted in a physical disconnect from family, friends and colleagues. For those who already have an established mentoring relationship, this can be a crucial source of support, facilitating an opportunity for both mentor and mentee to discuss concerns and keep connected during this unprecedented time.

Any time is a good time to become or seek a mentor but in the current Covid-19 climate, it has never been so important. Mentoring via the alta platform is not only beneficial to the mentees who utilise it, but also for the development of mentors. Even more importantly, alta offers the opportunity to commence and continue safe mentoring, at a social distance, and to help to overcome feelings of isolation. It offers a space and time for reflection and the continued building of the alta community.

A huge thank you to Susan, Stella and Rosalind for their input in this blog. If you would like to find out more about the alta mentoring platform you can watch our webinar on the subject here, and visit the alta website here.


Six Top Tips for Video Interviews

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Moon Executive Search, Faculty of Business and Law Advisory Board member, have listed their top tips for video interviews in this insightful blog. Originally posted on Moon Executive Search.

We have learned some valuable lessons over the years whilst speaking with candidates and clients via video calls, and we hope that sharing them will help you succeed at your interview.

Interviewing candidates online has become increasingly popular for employers and is now necessary under the current circumstances of near lock down. This method of speaking to potential employees will likely be the future of recruiting.

Video conferencing apps, including WeChat Work, Zoom, HouseParty and Slack have had an enormous increase in downloads recently with FaceTime and WhatsApp video calls being used heavily for one to one conversation too. The use of video calls in work and home life show no sign of slowing down and will become the normal way for our clients to speak to candidates. We have found that there are certain habits and behaviours that will help you impress.

Here are six top tips to help you succeed at video interviews:

1) Smile – Video conferencing can be disconcerting, but everyone is in the same boat so embrace the situation, engage and show how much you want the role.

2) Check Your Tech – Making sure that your devices are charged and that you have signal is paramount to having a successful call. The failure of some connections is unavoidable, but the employer is likely to notice poor administration. Also, the rhythm of the interview could be broken by the interruption and could fluster the candidate. It is always worth considering and informing the employer that you have a back-up method of communication ready, just in case something goes wrong.

3) Clear the Room – Take anything that could be distracting away from the desk. Have your notes, your tech and a drink. Make sure that the door is shut, and the room is as quiet as possible. A clear room and desk will help you think with clarity and focus on the task in hand.

4) Dress to Impress – Just like a normal interview, look as presentable as possible. If you can find photos of the staff on social or their website, use these as a guide to how formally you should dress. The smarter you dress will influence how smart you act, so dress up and carry yourself elegantly, even if you are sitting in your living room.

5) Do Your Homework – Make sure that you know as much as possible; the history of the company and the important people that work there as well as financials, company set up, trading history and supply chain and competitors. Write notes based on the information on the website and try to ascertain everything you can about the culture. This will build confidence and the employer will notice your tone and posture through the lens.

6) Prepare Questions – When making notes about the company, write down 3-5 questions that you would like to know about the company that you can ask either throughout or ideally at the end of the interview. It is also a great idea to have bullet points ready to show case your skills and relevant to the role. The more in-depth your study, the more insightful the questions will be and the more chance that you will be hired. Asking just one insightful question can make all the difference.

New Leadership Academy launched with Paradigm Norton

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UWE Bristol are working with employee owned and multi award winning financial planning firm Paradigm Norton to launch a ‘Leadership Academy’.

Designed to strategically invest in the leaders of the future, the Academy will see participants study modules in self-leadership, personal vision, succession, sustainability and legacy and conflict and confrontation. With a maximum of eight Paradigm Norton employees per academic year, the course demonstrates how the firm are investing in the future of their team and the wider business.   

Exclusively available to members of the Paradigm Norton team, the course will focus on management and leadership skills and spans across the normal academic year.

Those who complete the course will receive an accredited level seven certificate of leadership and management from UWE Bristol, as well as credits towards completing a further two years to achieve an MBA at the university.

Barry Horner, CEO of Paradigm Norton, said: “We have launched the Leadership Academy with UWE as a result of a desire to equip the future leaders of the business to lead with excellence. As an employee owned business, we wish to ensure that our ‘Partners’ have the required leadership skills that they need to help us grow and build the business over the coming decade. We have big ambitions and we will need leaders who can drive through change and help us stay current and relevant.”

Lynda Williams, Associate Director at UWE’s Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School, said; “Working in tandem with Paradigm Norton to bring this course to life has been fantastic, to be able to offer their team a sophisticated learning environment and a chance to build on their leadership skills is very exciting.”

Recently, Paradigm Norton was named the 22nd in the Top 100 Financial Adviser list by The Financial Times. The list provides a snapshot of the very best financial advice firms working in the UK today.

UWE Bristol launches Spring Bristol Distinguished Address Series

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The successful Bristol Distinguished Address Series is back for 2020. This series of free public lectures brings top-level business leaders to Bristol and has seen a wide array of inspiring talks since its launch. The talks provide a unique opportunity to hear about the challenges, issues and decisions being made at the highest level of strategic leadership.

UWE Bristol have announced the Spring dates for the Bristol Distinguished Address series that are held at Bristol Business School, with talks from five innovative leaders.

Upcoming Bristol Lectures

Bankers must become Eco-warriors – Dr Bevis Watts, Chief Executive, Triodos Bank UK

29 January 2020

Could banks serve the needs of society better? Are they undermining our long-term ability to sustain ourselves by not actively seeking to address the climate emergency, inequality and societal needs?

Perhaps the first and only environmentalist to lead a UK bank, Dr Bevis Watts puts forward the case that much of the financial sector is undermining efforts to tackle these issues. In fact, the UK’s current banking system holds the potential, through adaptation, to be a catalyst for a sustainable future.

For 25 years in the UK, Triodos Bank has demonstrated a model of sustainable banking that uses the intermediary power of finance to benefit people and the planet. They are also 100% transparent about who they lend to – focusing only on organisations that deliver positive environmental, social or cultural change. With the right values, banks can be a force for good and affect real positive systemic change in society.

What does internationalisation mean in C21st for global corporations? – Katherine Bennett CBE, Senior Vice President, Airbus & Chair, Western Gateway

12 February 2020

Katherine will deliver a lecture on Airbus’ approach to internationalisation. She will touch on internationalisation versus the role of continents from an economic perspective; she will provide a summary of current issues and ambitions within Airbus; she will reflect on the Brexit debate and finally, in light of her new role as Chair of Western Gateway, she will also reflect how a nation’s regional strategies can best be aligned to the future evolution of businesses, both large and small.

Living and moving well together – Xavier Brice, Chief Executive, Sustrans

26 February 2020

Transport shapes our relationship with each other and with our environment. It enables people, goods and ideas to spread and flourish, but it is also the biggest contributor to climate change in the UK and has poisoned the air in our cities and towns.

The history of transport is often presented as a series of technological revolutions – canals, railways, the motor car. We stand on the cusp of another transport revolution. New technologies and business models are bringing electric vehicles, driverless cars, e-scooters, drones and air-taxis, and promising quicker, easier journeys, cleaner air and less carbon. But technology is only ever a means to an end. Xavier’s talk will explore how we need to rethink what we want from transport so that we can all live and move well together.

TV as a Force for Good – Lisa Opie, Managing Director, UK Production, BBC Studios

11 March 2020

Lisa Opie, Managing Director of BBC Studios UK Production, talks about the power of television to drive positive change locally, nationally and internationally. 

BBC Studios world-leading Natural History Unit was recently awarded the prestigious Chatham House Prize for Blue Planet II’s global impact on the issue of ocean plastics. 

Also made in Bristol, DIY SOS highlights social issues and has seen more than 20,000 volunteers give their time and complete over 16 million worth of builds over the last 20 years. 

At a time when it is hard to tell what is real or fake and when there is division and discord, content can play a key role in raising awareness of important issues, bringing communities together and changing the world for the better.

Sustainability – The Long View – Laura Marshall, CEO, Icon Films

25 March 2020

Icon Films was founded in 1990 by husband and wife team Harry and Laura Marshall. Thirty years on the company is still growing, working in a global market in a golden age of scripted and unscripted content. Based in Bristol where being different is the norm, and where disruption and innovation is in the city’s DNA, how does a company evolve to keep succeeding? Is planet content infinite – or are resources and creativity finite? Where do you go when you want to keep going and what do we need to learn from those around us?

You can find more information about the Bristol Distinguished Address Series on the UWE Bristol website. Please use #BristolLectures to discuss the events on Twitter.

Course Connect Case Study: Lloyds Banking Group

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Thanks to Caron Ricciardi, Senior Business Development Manager, for providing a case study from Lloyds Banking Group who are partnered with our Banking and Finance module here at UWE Bristol.

What is Course Connect?

Course Connect Partnerships help bridge the gap between academia and industry and contribute to the practice focus of our programmes. Businesses can partner with us to co-create knowledge and help educate our students by supporting a module on a taught programme for two years.

You can contribute through live cases studies, guest lectures, co-designing the curriculum mentoring or sponsoring students and student competitions, and providing internships or placements.

Please give a short bio and history of your business:

‘When Lloyds Banking Group was formed in 2009, it brought together many well-known, financial-sector brands, including Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows. Our combined history stretches back more than 300 years, and encompasses a diverse range of businesses.’

How is your business getting involved with Course Connect?

‘We provide support for the banking and finance programme, complimenting the programme modules through a variety of activities, for example:

  • Interactive presentations on Robotics and Money Laundering
  • Giving new starter students an introduction to the soft skills needed in business
  • Helping 2nd and 3rd year students with mock interviews, CV feedback and assessment centres to fully prepare them for careers after graduating.’

What interested you about being a Course Connect partner?

‘We want young people to get a great start to their working life, sharing our experiences, knowledge and skills is a great way to help make that happen. This approach aligns to our Group purpose of Helping Britain Prosper.’

What is your feedback so far?

‘Personally I feel we have built a robust relationship with the lecturers and course directors / leads. This is complimented through Lloyds’ seat on the UWE Board, where in collaboration with other local businesses we help to shape the discussions for course content and direction.  As an employer, we look to add value by ensuring the courses provide a ‘true to life’ perspective for students.’

‘When talking about our relationship with UWE internally to my Lloyds colleagues, I class us as an “integral partner for the programme”.’

If you would like to find out more about Course Connect or would like to become a partner, please email bbec@uwe.ac.uk.

Take advantage of degree apprenticeship SME funding with UWE Bristol

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15 May 2019 15:00 – 17:00

Register here

Are you interested in upskilling your workforce and does the cost of training seem a barrier to accessing local talent?

This event provides an opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from existing businesses who have apprentices at UWE, and how to make it work. In addition to this, we will be highlighting upcoming degree apprenticeships and further opportunities for your business to train your employees at degree level with the funding available.

UWE Bristol is the only university in the region with funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to support non-levy employers and has secured funding to support apprentices from Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

David Barrett, Director of Apprenticeships at UWE Bristol, will welcome you to the event and alongside the Degree Apprenticeship Hub team will be able to help identify your training needs and suitable solutions.
Spaces are limited for this event, so please register below.

If you have any questions about this event or degree apprenticeships please feel free to contact Ellen Parkes.

We are looking forward to meeting you and beginning the degree apprenticeship partnership journey.

The event takes place in the University Enterprise Zone on Frenchay Campus from 15:00 – 17:00.

Register here