Paula Rosput Reynolds, a veteran director of the energy industry, has been named FTSE 100 non-executive director of the year for her work as chair at National Grid.
Though leading the board at the UK’s energy infrastructure company, Rosput Reynolds also runs the remuneration committee at BP and is on the board of General Electric.
She says that joining National Grid was an opportunity to “pivot” the organisation towards sustainability.
“The energy transition, ultimately is about the deployment of a lot of capital to build real things,” she tells The Sunday Times.
Her accolade comes as part of the 2023 Non-Executive Director Awards in association with The Sunday Times and Peel Hunt.
Awards are presented in seven categories: FTSE 100, FTSE All Share, FTSE AIM, Not-for-profit, Private/Private Equity, Lifetime Achievement and the Dame Helen Alexander NED to Watch award. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges—this year chaired by Ruth Cairnie, chair of Babcock International—who assess the nominees based on their performance, contribution, and impact.
The event is designed to recognise the contribution of non-executive directors to the success of companies in the United Kingdom.
The Lifetime Achievement award goes to Sir George Buckley, chair of Smiths Group, the FTSE 100 engineering conglomerate.
From a poverty-stricken background, Sir George was apprenticed at tool maker Stanley at 15, where he would eventually chair the board. In between he gained a degree, joined General Motors in the US, followed by other engineering firms, invented a new type of washing machine, developed a “supercharged” outboard engine and worked at PepsiCo.
Judges said of Sir George that he was a “true British success story”.
Another winner at this year’s awards was Sally Bridgeland, who takes the FTSE Aim award for her work chairing the ethical investment fund Impax Asset Management. Bridgeland is also chair of the Local Pensions Partnership, and a board member at Royal London, Royal and Sun Alliance and the Pension Insurance Corporation.
Reflecting on a career trajectory to board chair, she told The Sunday Times: “It’s less about putting your opinions into the room and more about making sure the team is working. And that’s team ‘NED’ as well as the top team at the organisation.”
Perhaps the most colourful winner in the awards is Sir Peter Bazalgette, who won the FTSE All Share accolade for chairing the broadcaster ITV before leaving last year.
During his TV career, Bazalgette has been responsible for shows such as Deal or No Deal and, most notoriously, Big Brother.
Looking back on his time at ITV, a period of intense competition with US streaming giants, Sir Peter says it came as Brexit was unleashed, Covid struck and the invasion of Ukraine. “I certainly lived in interesting times,” he says.
‘Impact on people’s lives’
The Not for Profit/Public Service Organisation award went to David Blood, chair and co-founder of Social Finance, an ethical investor that attempts to tackle issues such as domestic abuse and reoffending by prisoners.
Blood is also chair at Generation Investment Management, an ESG fund manager. Judges said he had a “strong vision and steady hand”.
Also among the winners is Barbara Anderson, a non-executive at Smart Data Communications Company, managers of an energy metering network. Anderson takes the Private/Private Equity Backed award and is also an non-executive at Sovereign Housing, an affordable housing company. She tells The Sunday Times: “I have tried to choose roles I feel may result in a positive impact on people’s lives.”
Last among those chosen by the judges is Loraine Woodhouse, winner of the Dame Helen Alexander NED to Watch prize for a portfolio of roles that include board seats at British Land, Pennon Group and The Restaurant Group.
Judges praised her for “meticulous preparation” and her “humble leadership style”.