Interview with Caroline Hayward
Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.
I’ve drafted an article called “The Rise of the grey-preneur”!
I’m not academic and left school after A-Levels to work in London. I have a recruitment and executive search background and have been a director since I was 23, initially in a boutique search firm in technology, and then CEO founder of my own Search firm Hayward & Associates Ltd. We recruited the top teams for software houses all over the world- many of them in the US. CEO, VP Sales, CTO etc
I ran that for 30 years with ChairX as the PR/Networking arm (previously called Chairman’s Network Ltd)- but I had to take the “man” out and did so a few months ago.
ChairX is an international peer business and discussion network for Chairs, NED’s, Founders, C-Level executives UK and Internationally.
Senior executives join for a mix of thought leadership, learnings and business connections.
I’m also an Airbnb Super host and I have 2 boys 24 and 26 both working in London.
What are you excited about and working on now?
We have just finished the name change which was a lot of work. I’m now getting the new Brand and IP finished along with an overview of our Modus Operandi.
I’m completing all the events for Q4- we do 100 a year. I’m organising a Christmas Party in London and reviewing our sales and marketing strategy. Gosh, no wonder I’m busy!
I also host or moderate all the events.
I’m working on getting other Networks and business schools involved- we already work with INSEAD and the IOD who host great events for us. Their content- my format.
Why is what you do important in business today?
Good Business networks are recognised as a fundamental asset to you and your business.
Around 80% of opportunity is derived from your network and people underestimate the power of discussion to build relationships and trust, which can lead to many more business and personal outcomes.
We also educate Directors and Boards by sharing the skills and expertise of our members who are often experts.
It’s an easier and more fun way of getting up-to-speed on what is happening with Boards and Business- I’m learning all of it all the time!
I’ve come up with a format which is inclusive and fun but still all about business.
We’re a hosted discussion network which makes it compelling and interesting.
What are the biggest challenges you face in business today?
Scale Up with limited funds. Always the challenge as I’m sure you know.
We also need to get the Brand and proposition in front of as many Chairs, CEO’s, NED’s as possible- we have a 20% conversion rate on meetings as we’re doing something different from other business networks- connecting and engaging everybody on an ongoing basis, from your desk or in person, in certain cities.
What gives you the most joy from your work?
ChairX is totally compelling as we are all meeting great business leaders from all over the World- learning from the best along with current business thinking.
It’s very satisfying to see Members derive real business benefit- whether it’s a light-bulb moment or a great connection that solves challenges in their business.
What is your hope for the future?
That the ChairX Brand lives on and scales up and becomes a Global Network of calibre where we’re connecting real business people all over the world to create more or better business.
We’re doing the bit that Linked In and other business networks don’t always do that effectively- we’re actually connecting people to build business relationships, all over the World. How amazing is that?