Damian Walsh

Partner, Head of Board Practice

In an international career spanning more than thirty-five years, Damian has worked with leadership teams across multiple geographies and sectors and brings insight into effective governance and leadership. He has advised boards of FTSE100, FTSE250, ASX40, Euronext and large privately held corporations, often at challenging stages of their life cycle. Damian brings a unique perspective from nine years as a non-executive director of Arqiva Group Limited, the owner of UK critical national infrastructure, where he is a member of the Audit (Chair for two years), Remuneration, and Operational Resilience Committees.

My story

I started my career in Australia with Arthur Young and was appointed Partner in 1984. Immediately following the merger that formed Ernst & Young, I was seconded to the Global Office in New York to support the post-merger integration programme for one of the combined firm’s global service lines.

On my return to Australia in 1995, I joined Arthur Andersen and was appointed an Andersen Worldwide Partner. In 1999, I was asked to re-join Ernst & Young Global, this time based in London, to lead a major business development programme in Europe. In 2005, I moved into a global management consulting firm where I worked with some of the world’s largest companies delivering substantial operational performance improvement and bottom line impact – these were the boom years for the natural resources industries and I developed a specialism advising some of the largest companies in these sectors, complementing my deep experience across, technology, infrastructure and industry generally.

In 2013, I was “headhunted by the headhunters” and joined Heidrick & Struggles as a Partner and member of the Board and CEO Practice and the global Industrial Practice.

My focus

Boards are under pressure, from activist shareholders, governments, regulators, the governance arms of institutional investors, the media and other interested players – and often rightly so – but there is a serious risk that in trying to meet these often-conflicting pressures, the board may lose its purpose of ensuring the success and financial integrity of the company. As some major corporate failures and, in some sectors, destruction of shareholder value, have shown, ticking all the “good governance” boxes does not necessarily give you an effective board.

In response, there will be a renewed focus on board effectiveness and the critical role of the Chairman. This will demand a re-evaluation of many boards and board practices. Identifying and recruiting the right people with relevant experience, diversity of thought, curious minds, a willingness to challenge constructively and an unwavering attention to shareholder value – and always the preparedness to resign – is not easy and requires a partner who understands that.
Savannah Group’s approach is to invest time in understanding our client’s business, industry, strategy and board dynamics and then identifying qualified individuals who can and will contribute to board effectiveness and the success of the company.

My motivation

I am motivated by the opportunity to make a contribution to the success of my clients and, in doing so, to the advancement of my team and the future of Savannah Group.

Why I like working at Savannah

Savannah Group is different. We are a UK based boutique with global reach focused on our client’s success. Success is a function of leadership and leadership is people. Savannah Group has a point of view about which people make good leaders and we share that with our clients. Finding those people requires more than “opening the rolodex” and the Savannah approach incorporates a rigorous research and assessment capability and a business engagement with our clients.

Where we work

Global coverage

Our global model ensures that the partner who you have the relationship with, and is best placed to deliver the best results, runs the search from start to end, with the support of local market knowledge where it’s needed.

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