Chair of the Board, CDC Group plc

Body: Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
Appointing Department: Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office
Sectors: Business, Finance & Skills, Energy, Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Health and Social Care, International
Location: London
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: £35k per annum subject to review.
Time Requirements: The chair should be based in the UK and able to travel to London to be able to commit the time needed. Enough available time – assume 1 to 2 days per week (including travel, planning, preparation), with unpredictable demands at times of crisis / particular change. An intent for 6 years of service (2 terms of 3 years). Acceptance of the financial terms of employment, and travel policy.


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

Diana Layfield has been appointed as the Chair of CDC Group Plc and will take up her duties from 1st January 2022 for a 3 year term.

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    17/09/2021 at 00:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement


Vacancy Description

CDC Group plc (CDC) is the UK’s development finance institution, established in 1948 (and the world’s first development finance institution), with the inspiring impact investment mandate to transform lives and achieve a better and more sustainable future for people in Africa and Asia. Whether it’s investing in the world’s largest solar park in Egypt, investing in off-Grid Solar to bring access to clean energy at some of the lowest prices on the market to rural households in East Africa or establishing a new company to dramatically reduce the cost of medicines, CDC is driven in its mission to be involved in tackling some of the biggest challenges in global development today.


Wholly owned by the UK Government, CDC operates with an independent board and has net assets of £6.5 billion with investments in over 1,000 companies and a portfolio of £4.7 billion in growing companies across nearly 70 countries. In 2019, CDC committed £1.6 billion of capital across 54 transactions in our Financial Services, Infrastructure and Climate, and SMART Industries Groups (Services, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Real Estate and Technology).  CDC has the full range of investment capability across Debt, Equity, Funds and Capital Partnerships. To support its development mandate, CDC has the unique ability to take higher risk and use technical assistance to drive market transformation.  CDC takes an entrepreneurial approach to investment, thinking creatively about ways to deploy capital, and mobilise other investors, to drive economic transformational impact in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. CDC has ten overseas offices and continues to expand its presence in Africa and South Asia.


CDC is seeking an exceptional and experienced individual, with strong deep investment experience and who is motivated by the company’s mission and values to Chair the Board. The successful candidate will provide clear direction and focus for CDC as it enters its next five-year strategy period. S/he will ensure that the execution of CDC’s strategy is aligned and consistent with its ambition to be the highest calibre impact investing organisation. S/he will effectively engage the shareholder and other key stakeholders relationships and oversee the operations of the Board to ensure proper governance and drive CDC’s growth and impact.


The next Chair will bring experience of chairing the Board of a relevant organisation, extensive investment experience, including private equity investing experience, of e.g through senior leadership in a significant financial sector institution and have experience leading an organisation in multi-stakeholder environments. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate a passion for development finance as well as an understanding of, and commitment to, CDC’s mission. Candidates will ideally bring experience of a double bottom line or mission driven organisation, exposure to an African or South Asian context and an understanding of the UK government and of public policy, particularly in relation to development and foreign policy. Experience as a Non-Executive Director is a must and experience of chairing a committee would be advantageous.

Person Specification



The candidate should demonstrate an effective track record of:


  • A successful senior leadership career in a significant financial sector institution, with an understanding of how investment decisions are made, and how investment teams work, including demonstrated record of investment returns.
  • Leading an organisation whilst working in challenging, ambiguous, and multi-stakeholder environments, by convening and building coalitions of support and maintaining constructive and open relationships at multiple levels, internally and externally.


In addition, the candidate should be able to demonstrate as much experience as possible of:


  • Effectively chairing the Board of a relevant organisation, working well with the shareholder, Board, and ExCo.
  • Working in a double bottom line or mission driven organisation. Experience of development finance would be a notable plus, or a significant development organisation or not for profit.
  • Working in the geographies that CDC invests (Africa and South Asia), and if not, has the strong appetite to visit and learn, and has the risk appetite required for CDC’s mandate.
  • Working effectively within international development.
  • Working at senior levels and an ability to bring a valuable network to CDC – in government, business, and investment – in the UK and internationally.
  • An understanding of public policy, particularly as it relates to the development and foreign policy space.

Working with UK Government, for example as a NED in a department

and working with politicians.



She or he should have as many as possible of the following attributes and skills:


A person who has an authentic passion for CDC’s developmental mission and   credible experience of finance.


A person of stature who has the ability to build confidence and trust, at multiple levels, with regularly changing contacts – from the Secretary of State, the civil service, across political parties, the Board, the CEO and ExCo, the staff at CDC, and through to external partners (African governments, large corporates, civil society).


A person who embraces the fundamental rights of the shareholder as the 100% owner, with a commitment to work hard to constructively achieve value for the shareholder, and always to communicate transparently. But also, strong enough to push back on unrealistic plans, and to protect the operational independence of CDC required for it to endure as an institution, given the very long-term investment horizons of CDC.


The preparedness for public accountability in a high-profile organisation with a very high-risk mandate, where failure often comes before success, what appears to be successes are often challenged, and personal motivation is driven by the mission itself.


Drive and resilience – the ability to deal with change, ever increasing demands from the shareholder, conflict, and uncertainty in a high-profile environment, with full scrutiny (political, parliamentary, and press). But also (perhaps!) the ability to “let the ship sail” without needing to make their own personal mark.

A well-honed radar for reputational risk and the multitude of ways it can manifest in CDC’s world.


A calm head when issues arise and able to design and run the right processes to address them. An inner steel to do the right thing.


Good communication skills with personal impact and credibility to be an effective advocate and ambassador for CDC, with the ability to engage with people at all levels internally in small and large groups; comfort with public speaking and media.


Experience of working across different business cultures and building trusted multi-cultural relationships.


Board room skills


A strategic perspective and vision – the ability to distil and simplify to the key points.


High standards of governance with an ability to ensure the Board works together cohesively, fostering a positive, open, challenging but constructive atmosphere between NEDs and management in which the Board provides rigorous oversight.


Set the right tone from the top – for both the Board and ExCo.


A guardian of high investment standards and the need for high quality recruitment at all levels, but also the ability to always remind CDC staff of its reason to exist – its developmental purpose.


An ability to attract high-calibre non-executives to CDC.


Willingness to offer open, two-way regular communication to all Board members, particularly Board committee Chairs, so that work streams are connected and Board members, and the shareholder is fully informed.


An ability to set clear delineation of responsibilities between Board oversight and management execution.


Links with the executive team


An ability to develop a strong, trusting, challenging but constructive relationship with the CEO to empower and support him in his role while providing robust feedback, challenge and input.


The ability to command the respect of ExCo – through experience, commitment, and cultural style.


Support the management team with empathy and continue the drive to “move up a level” whilst remaining close enough to scrutinise and credibly deliver on the demanding governance framework (due to the complexities of CDC’s mission).


An ability to act as a sounding board, inputting into and shaping strategic decisions, and helping where needed on operational decisions.


Ability to run a top-class succession process that attracts star candidates when the time is right for CEO succession.


Additional Information

Code of Practice – The selected candidate will need to uphold the standards of conduct set out in the 2012 Code of Practice for Public Appointments to Ministerial Bodies (i.e. the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s Seven Principles of Public Life).


Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of everything we do at CDC. These concepts are aligned to our mission and embedded in our values.


In order for us to build an open and inclusive culture at CDC that is representative of the society in which we live and work, we strive to reflect this diversity in the candidates we attract, select and hire at CDC. We welcome applications from all candidates.

How to Apply

CDC has retained Russell Reynolds Associates to assist with this appointment.

For further information on the position and additional details on qualifications, requirements, and how to apply, please go to

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