GETTING to the top is one thing, but staying there is another, so how do CEOs ensure their seat at the head of the table?

They go back to school. And not just any old business school, they go to the School for CEOs (SCEOs).

With faculty members featuring business leaders such as Katherine Garrett Cox, Martin Gilbert and David Sole, SCEOs is a new concept in executive education, helping organisations strengthen and deliver their succession pipeline and individuals prepare for senior leadership positions.

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Crawford Gillies is chairman of Control Risks International Ltd and non-executive director of Barclays plc and Edrington Group and a senior independent director at SSE plc. He is a member of the SCEOs Faculty and sits on the Advisory Board.

He says that the forces of change, whether technological, political, economic or competitive, mean that the basis of success yesterday will rarely be what is required tomorrow, so there’s a need for CEOs who are adaptable and who are willing and able to continue to learn and develop.

“The lesson of recent events, is that it is arrogant and dangerous to believe we can predict the future,” says Gillies. “The implication is that effective CEOs are building resilient and adaptable organisations able to continue to succeed whatever is thrown at them.

“But I have yet to meet a CEO who is the finished article.”

Beth Carruthers is CEO at Remploy and an alumna of SCEOs. She attended when newly appointed to her first CEO role and was keen to ensure she could have an immediate positive impact.

“I found the course genuinely transformative,” said Carruthers. “It gave me the confidence to set bolder objectives for myself and the business. I came away with a kit bag full of practical insights, hints and tips that helped me to determine what kind of CEO I would be. It helped me to frame the sort of support that I needed to be successful and from where I might get that support. My confidence increased and I developed a different perspective on how I added value to the business.”

Carruthers took that learning and used it to lead a change of ownership and structures for the business, moving it from public to private sector.

The results have been tangible; the business is now a wholly commercial enterprise free to compete in the open market, gaining two significant new contracts in two new markets. Profitability increased significantly and the business has a much more agile approach to cost control. The management team is more confident and has led the business well through significant change to make the business leaner and more competitive.

“I invested heavily in building a stronger team that was able to take over the day to day running of the business,” explained Carruthers. “I was systematic in developing stakeholder support for the business strategy that I had developed with my team, including the continued support and encouragement of the NED board members and I created a strong vision and secured the buy in of all employees during a period of uncertainty.”