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The Boardroom - Behind closed doors

How to get in, get on and make a difference


Simon Laffin

Simon Laffin has devised and presents the course himself.


He has over 30 years of board experience, including;

  • Chairing three boards (two listed and one private equity)
  • Non-executive director on five UK and one Japanese listed companies
  • Extensive private equity experience
  • Property & Finance Director of FTSE-100 grocery chain, Safeway
  • Mentor and author of ‘Behind Closed Doors’

His board experience includes; acquiring companies, failed bids, private equity bids, both successful and failed acquisition integrations, being acquired, shareholder revolts, equity raises, being nationalised, turnarounds, regulatory inquiries, boardroom fights, performance issues, liquidity crises, inappropriate boardroom behaviour, discrimination, resignations, recruitments and dismissals.


By the end of the course participants will;

  1. Be able to walk into any interview for a board job, or any boardroom, and feel confident that they understand major issues facing boards
  2. Have debated key dilemmas and can draw on many years of experience (even if they themselves have only limited personal experience)
  3. Be able to participate actively on a board, yet be sensitive to issues, risks and opportunities
  4. Be clear on the different roles of executives and non-executives, the board and each committee
  5. Understand board dynamics and be aware of potential conflicts or difficult decisions

Course modules

1. Getting into the boardroom

Choosing a board and company to join; How to be successful in a board interview; What nomination committees look for in a candidate; What to research; What not to do; What to do when you join a board; How execs and non-execs work together; and What your role might be on a new board.

2. The secret of taking risks

Why risk matters and creates value; Why it shouldn’t be left to the risk committee; Managing risks; non-financial risks; Using financial risk to evaluate decisions; Understanding and calculating risk measures (including WACC); and Reviewing business cases for risk.

3. Finance can be fun

Why finance is too important to be left to accountants; Using finance to understand the business; Financial numbers that matter the most; Cash versus profit; The importance of the balance sheet; Why trends are so interesting and important; and Why the phasing of profit is more than just numbers.

4. The Audit Committee counts

Why the Audit committee is so important (and you might want to be on it); How to stop the accountants confusing you; Accounting gotchas to watch; What are accounting estimates and judgements; Understanding materiality; Internal controls and new requirements for board assurance.

5. The Remuneration Committee is rewarding

What is the market rate for a job, and should you pay it; Are executives paid too much; What metrics matter; Should you listen to remuneration advisers; Short-term vs long-term bonuses; Should you pay for ESG; and How not to be embarrassed.

6. The Nominations Committee is about people

The growing responsibilities of this committee; Succession planning and developing talent; Promoting diversity; Using head-hunters; Recruiting new directors; and How board evaluations can turn nasty.

7. Shareholders – vital or just annoying?

Are public and private shareholders different; Institutional versus oligarch shareholders; What shareholders really want; Dividends versus share buy-backs; Pre-emption; and Raising equity.

8. Corporate buying & selling – be prepared!

Are corporate acquisitions good; What to watch on acquisition proposals; Selling yourself to the highest bidder; Defending a bid; and When to listen to advisers.

8. Reflections & course summary

How to improve board performance; How do we improve ourselves; Readying yourself a board role (If not, why not?); and Where do we go from here?


Week 1: Read specially written course notes, questions and practical scenarios, plus relevant chapters of the course book online

Week 2: Peer-to-Peer discussion about issues raised, their own experience and the various scenarios 

Week 3: Discussion with, and input from, both participants and Simon Laffin


  • Discussions will be an hour each
  • Each course will comprise around 12 participants
  • With 9 modules, the total course will be spread over 6 months


When booking through the Good Governance Academy, all attendees will receive certificates of attendance.

Our certificates of attendance are used by most professional associations for continuing professional development purposes.


The course costs £550 per participant

  • Six month taught, interactive course covering all major aspects of the boardroom
  • The course will be online

Download the course prospectus here.

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Simon Laffin

Experienced chairman, non-executive director, mentor and author

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.

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