Sir Anthony Greener, chair of the St Giles Trust

Governance is about guidance and constructive criticism, he tells Paul Jump

Sir Anthony Greener, chair, St Giles Trust
Sir Anthony Greener, chair, St Giles Trust

My career has been in business, most recently as chief executive and chair of Guinness and, after the merger with Grand Metropolitan, chair of Diageo. I also spent six years as deputy chair of BT and was chair of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

I have always been interested in the power of education to transform people's lives. My family trust, the Minton Trust, was already supporting a St Giles Trust programme to help disadvantaged young people increase their skills and employment prospects when I was approached to be chair. I did my due diligence and was happy to accept in early 2009.

I see my role as supporting the management through advice, guidance, introductions and constructive criticism. I don't guarantee funding through my own trust or any other source, but I will help St Giles to attract sustainable funding for its work with offenders to help them build productive lives. At the end of my trust's funding commitment I will evaluate the results of the programme. I want to support programmes that are manifestly producing the intended results for their target audience and I would not want St Giles to run programmes that don't fulfil those criteria.

Being a chair is about much more than turning up to four meetings a year, and the amount of time you put in varies depending on the charity's needs and situation at any given time. I'm not sure how long I will be at St Giles: there needs to be a reasonable turnover.

It is still early days and I'm not in any hurry to prescribe any changes at St Giles. I have been greatly impressed with the dedication and professionalism of the St Giles staff. With that degree of commitment you don't go changing things in a hurry.

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