Lessons from the C-suite: Foster Denovo Group's Roger Brosch

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Giving people a personal stake incentivises them

I started out…

In 1984 on a graduate development programme with Rothmans UK. In 1986 I joined Financial Planning Services, before growing to become regional director of General Assurance National, a French state-owned insurance company. In 1998 I was a founder of Millfield Group, which floated in 2001. I left Millfield in 2004 and set up Foster Denovo with a number of other partners, where I have been CEO since 2005.

When we started Foster Denovo we wanted to build something that was values-based, relationship-focused, and with a stakeholder culture that allows everyone in the business to share in the value we create.

I knew this was the right career path for me when…

I realised it is all about relationships, innovation and growth. The variety and challenges are intoxicating.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way…

It’s all about the people – surround yourself with people better than you and give them some skin in the game. One of the best things we’ve done is implement our employee share schemes. The commitment this generates drives the business forward and also increases your chances of success. It can change an organisation from a place where you go to work into something you are passionate about.

My proudest achievement…

Family aside, it is the team and propositions we have assembled at Foster Denovo. We share the same values and have the same vision – the team is wonderfully complementary. I believe that together we have created a firm that is market leading and truly client focused.

My biggest mistake…

Not following my instinct over a decision. I should have spoken up and not deferred to experience – as it isn’t always right. As such, speaking your mind and sharing ideas is something we have focused on. We are committed to continually challenging ourselves on whether we are doing the right thing. As part of this we implemented online pulse surveys that ask all of our employees how engaged they and their client base are with the proposition we are delivering.

My biggest inspiration…

My father’s work ethic and creative genius. And Mr Kingdom, an English and history teacher at prep school. His enthusiasm, energy and encouragement were in abundance and helped me believe I could achieve anything.

Keeping me awake at night right now…

The excitement and creativity of our vision for the group. We have a clear plan and a great team – we now need to make it happen.

The biggest challenge for organisations over the next five years will be…

Keeping up with the pace of change, identifying and implementing technology effectively to improve client experience and add value.

I need my HR director to…

Provide counsel, clarity and guidance. They are a true friend to me and the whole business – an invaluable superstar.

It annoys me when HR…

Forgets the person and focuses on policy or process. They need to always look for positive fair outcomes.

More HRDs would become CEO if…

With the right team around them many would make great CEOs (if they wanted to). They understand people and that is key to business success.

What I’m reading right now…

Legacy by James Kerr, a brilliant book about the secrets of the All Blacks’ success, and Focusing Your Unique Ability by Dan Sullivan.

My top leadership tip…

Consult fully and be decisive. Have a clear vision and be totally committed and absolutely passionate, then you will win hearts and minds and make things happen.

Roger Brosch is CEO of Foster Denovo Group

This piece appeared in the June 2019 issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk

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