Jason Chaffer's speech at Clarke's 18 March 2008

This is a typed transcript of Chairman Jason Chaffer's own aide memoire for his speech delivered to an enthusiastic and receptive audience of Fellows and other guests at Sally Clarke's restaurant on 18 March 2008.

 

Ladies & Gentlemen

 

Good evening.  Thank you very much for making the time and effort to come here tonight and for those with an eye on the trains and the journey home, I promise we will not detain you much longer.

 

I was very fortunate to come down to London from Durham University to live with my uncle and aunt not far from here.  My uncle was then a flourishing photographer with a zest for life and a love of fine things, particularly when it came to food and wine.  So when a new lady chef burst onto the London scene in 1984 with a vibrant fresh approach and the now famous no choice menu, Martin was quick to visit not just once but many times (I was fortunate enough to be included on the odd occasion).  Like many others we became avid followers of this amazing cook.  So here we are a few years later and I am sure you will agree that Sally Clarke is still at the top of London's best and finest.  We have been incredibly fortunate to have had Clarke's as a venue for this evening and to have been spoilt with such a memorable dinner.  On behalf of the Fellowship I would like to thank Sally and her team for a very special evening.

 

So why are we here?  Well time has flown by since our dinners in 1999 and 2003 and as one global icon of business stated "if you are in the people business, you can never bring them together often enough".

 

It provides an opportunity for us to celebrate the work of Larry Parsons, the predecessor of Peter Attenborough and Tim Young and without his wisdom and good works, many of us would have faced different outcomes in our place of education and our lives.  It is a time perhaps to take stock of our efforts so far and also to look at the opportunities that lie ahead.

 

So what of where we are today and as one wise sage once observed in discussion on the Fellowship "what would someone have missed if no one had taken up Mr Packard's invitation to start building the Fellowship in 2003?"

 

The early days heralded the shaping of a strategy and a structure that could engage fellows of all ages and stages in their lives whilst recognising that we might be too late to capture the imagination of some, whether it be down to the issue of anonymity - a challenge that has led to some fascinating calls on whether the Fellowship is a religious cult or a front for money laundering - or just purely timing since some recipients had already shaped their lives and commitments.  We had to find a balance with perhaps greater emphasis on the future generations and the determination to provide something tangible.  Always we kept in mind the concept of community, leadership, mentoring and philanthropic deeds (not necessarily directly associated with fund raising).

 

The results are currently 400 active fellows out of over 1,000 which is fine as my daughter says to me when I am being too questioning.  We can always improve on this number.  We have a communications strategy using a state of the art website ( Steve Wilson); a Facebook group (Max Kirby) and regular communications group (David McCausland and his SC team).  We have a brand naturally gifted to us by the Rank Foundation through it's 'Pebble in a Pond' concept.  These practical matters are important but what is the experience today of a new fellow on being gifted the Award today and afterwards as their lives progress ?

 

(i)         He or she sees the Fellowship Review as do their parents and they come to the Leadership Day in their sixth form.  It is a chance to meet their peers at other schools, do a variety of tasks,  listen to some inspirational insights from other older Fellows, and find out more about the Rank Youth Work programme including the CAP and GAP schemes.

 

(ii)        He or she is then gifted a Rank fellow mentor from that day hence to help advise  on any matters and this is emphasized further through mentoring evenings covering many topics but primarily careers that have led to work 'secondments' and even jobs.  The feedback has always been powerful.

 

(iii)       Then there are the charities evenings to deliver one of our goals of giving back.   Two have been held in London with great success and the next to be in Manchester thanks to James Williams and his team.  Much comes of these.   It is not just the inspiration to contribute in some way but also through direct advice to new workshops for charities such as the one we will hold on PR and marketing on 15 May. 

 

(iv)       Beyond the charities event, we are now trying to build momentum behind one off events such as the Tall Ships Day (Henry Scutt); the Day of Action (Max Kirby) and binding in those outside the South East through events like Sedbergh, Bolton and possibly the West Country.  Rank is throughout the UK - something we must never forget.

 

(v)        As exciting and importantly, there are the International connections through our relationship building with the Fundacao Estudar, the London MagNet Society, and the Qatar Leadership Foundation: communities with similar philosophies, where we have invited the local leaders onto our steering committee.  One day our leadership programme could embrace these geographical areas and communities which can only be good in a global world and enhance our fellows' perspectives and broaden their knowledge and experience.  Could we one day hold our leadership day in Paris with attendees from several continents with outstanding leaders to offer advice and wisdom from all the respective parts of the globe.

 

What we are really describing here is a community at work!  Whether it be a small village in the country, or a society, or through our passions and interests or our work, we have all experienced different communities.  We know they thrive on what people are prepared to invest in them and the contributions people wish to make.  The Rank Fellowship is just such a community.  It means different things to different people and at differing stages of their lives.  People can come in and out at will.  There are no set rules.  What is important is to know that it is there if you want it and more often that it surprises and delivers the unexpected and rewarding which is what makes it so exciting.

 

Most recently, Tim and I have had some dealings with a firm called Goldman Sachs.  Most of you will have heard of this investment bank which is revered as pre-eminent even by its fiercest competition.  In 1999 GS set up a foundation.  Amongst its goals being, I quote "to develop high potential youth and promote leadership, entrepreneurship and business education".  It sounds familiar.  From this beginning GS created the GS Global Leaders Programme in 2001 that sponsors second year graduates nominated by up to 100 varieties in 19 countries.  Those fortunate anointed few then carry the title GS Global Leaders and are embraced into a community through a variety of initiatives surrounding Leadership and philanthropy.

 

Why mention this?

 

There do seem to be some amazing similarities between the work of GS, and the Rank Fellowship and the Rank Foundation.  Not that we are GS, far from it but it does show how farsighted was the philanthropy of Lord Rank in launching the Rank Leadership Scholarships some 20 years ahead of some of the sharpest minds in the current business world at GS.  He knew it was a great investment and by building the Rank Fellowship and its works, we only hope to demonstrate that further.

 

As we approach our fifth anniversary in November, I would like to finish with two comments:

 

Firstly, we have just started.  This is a long journey.  We never expected short term results.  What has been achieved has been powerful and fulfilling but our aspirations and hopes are set even higher.  It is where the Fellowship has reached in 10, 15, 20 years time that will be telling and tangible and also hopefully very exciting.

 

Secondly, it is to say thank you to Lindsay Fox and her team of Trustees on the youth and education committee; to the Rank Foundation team at Warwick Square; to Charlie Harris and his group of charities; to Tim Young and Gill Zammett; to Fred Packard and the Rank foundation.  Without your never ending determination, support and faith, the Fellowship still would be nothing.  Also, to all the Rank Fellows in this room, thanks for your contributions.  Let us do all we can to ensure that this dynamic community continues to thrive now and into the future, and that we achieve all the dreams of Lord Rank and his Grandson.

 

Safe journey home and we look forward to seeing you again soon, Goodnight.

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