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Simon Laffin is a board veteran of over 30 years, with real life knowledge of all the situations covered. In this event, Simon joins Geoff Rothschild, an equally experienced director and past Chair of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
Geoff and Simon will discuss both Simon’s book, Behind closed doors: The Boardroom, and his course which has recently been endorsed by the Good Governance Academy. They will address difficult decisions faced in boardrooms, as well as the real dilemmas both executive and non-executive directors are facing today. These are matters which are not about corporate governance nor directors’ responsibilities, but rather about the ‘intangible’ aspects of governance.
Simon Laffin is an experienced chairman, non-executive director, mentor and author. He has served on both public and private boards, as well as having worked in private equity and been a FTSE-100 CFO.
Simon is currently a non-executive director at Watkin Jones plc (a listed UK property company). Previously, he has chaired Assura plc, Flybe Group plc and Hozelock Group, and served as a non-executive on Quintain Estates & Development plc, Aegis Group plc, Mitchells & Butlers plc, Dentsu Group Inc and Northern Rock plc (as part of the rescue team). Simon’s early career stretched from being a milkman, working in a post-room, to being a store manager and CFO at Safeway plc.
Simon is passionate about making boards work better, for directors to learn from their own and others’ mistakes, for greater diversity at all layers of management, but especially in the boardroom, and for regulators to participate in helping boards make better decisions (instead of taking pot shots from the sidelines). He is an author and mentor to senior business leaders.
Born in Johannesburg in 1947, Geoff was educated at King Edward VII School and matriculated at Queen’s College, Queenstown. He gained a C.T.A. at the University of the Witwatersrand and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1970. Geoff qualified as a Chartered Marketer (South Africa) in 2004.
Between 1964 and 1973, Geoff held various positions and ultimately senior audit manager at Kessel Feinstein, responsible for private and listed companies. From 1974 to 2003, Geoff held various roles at Sidney Isaacs Inc. (and its successors) including: administration director, finance director, joint MD and marketing director. The stockbroker was one of the largest in the country (known at the time as Frankel Pollak). Besides administrative responsibilities (which encompassed preparation of financial accounts and human resources), Geoff also ran investment conferences from 1977 to 1998 which attracted many overseas visitors and clients.
From 1991 to 2008, Geoff was a member of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Committee and Board and was vice chairman and then chairman of the Stock Exchange (JSE, 1998 – 2001). From 2003 to 2015 Geoff worked for the JSE as head of marketing, education and events, and ultimately head of Government and International Affairs.
Geoff served on the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) for 14 years and is a member of the finance committee for Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA). Currently he is involved with the South African CEO initiative and is director and chair of the operations committee of the NEPAD Business Foundation.
Geoff is an Honorary Industrial Fellow at the Da Vinci Institute of Technology and consults to several organizations including Boston Consulting Group and Hill+Knowlton Strategies. He is a director of the Grootbos Foundation and Chairman of the Imvula Trust and Finance Academy of the Maharishi Institute. He is a trustee of Brand South Africa as well as a patron of Education Africa and the Nelson Mandela Childrens’ Hospital. Geoff is also involved with various other charities and organisations (eg. Partners for Possibility and MEDA – science & technology for students).
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