British Council's Management Express (MEX) last week hosted Richard Harvey, immediate past CEO of AVIVA Plc, to a number of engagements with Ghanaian business professional and corporate leaders. The events were held under the theme 'Growth and Leadership in today's business: what it takes to transform effectiveness'.
Richard Harvey was the long standing CEO of AVIVA, one of the UK's largest FTSE Companies, until July 2007. With 57,000 employees serving over 45 million customers, AVIVA is the world's fifth largest insurance business, and the biggest in the UK. It works in 27 countries and deals in fund management, long term savings and general insurance.
Aviva has worldwide total sales of £41.5 billion and assets under management of £377 billion. Richard was responsible for the strategic development of the group through both organic and inorganic growth. His notable achievements include the successful merger of Norwich Union and CGU in May 2000 to create Aviva.
Upon his retirement from AVIVA Plc Richard and his wife Kay decided to take a Gap Year to work with Concern Universal, a UK-based charity with projects in East Africa.
Richard Harvey facilitated the Management Express Forums in Kumasi and Accra, but the highlight of his visit was the interaction with the cream of Ghana's captains of industry and finance at what has come to be known as the British Council's 'Power Lunch'. Against the background of new directives by the Bank of Ghana to increase the capital threshold of financial institutions, Richard's experiences in mergers & acquisitions, and leadership of large organizations across international markets became the fulcrum of discussions. In answering questions from his Ghanaian counterparts, Richard brought to bear the organisational, financial and leadership expertise reminiscent of a seasoned FTSE CEO.
Prior to their interaction with Richard Harvey, the CEOs were taken through a 30-minute 'taster' of InterAction, British Council's internationally renowned leadership development programme. The session was facilitated by Emelia Arthur, an Interaction Global Facilitator. As part of the InterAction exercises the shared ideas on what excited them about their leadership.
The positive response from the participants confirmed that they were all thinking along the same wavelength thus focusing on the positive aspect of their leadership. A question on how participants envisioned their company in 20 years time drew various responses including 'growing into a multinational company,' 'bringing all on board in order to contribute towards combating global warming,' and 'hearing from their workers and the organizations' publics that they are passionate and satisfied about their services and products.'
Emelia Arthur challenged participants to change some stereotyped assumptions which according to her could impact on their corporate behaviour and mitigate towards achieving their goals. She added since good leaders learn from their mistakes, they needed to decipher which actions worked best for them in order to avoid those slow-moving conservative philosophies.