WIG CEO blog December 2020: WIG's year in review

Looking back, labelling 2020 'not a typical year' sounds like a wild understatement. Also, any retrospection starts to look as if it is ignoring next year when, at least perhaps for half of it, COVID sits on top of the effects of leaving the EU and a recession. To that bundle, we also add the issues that will have to be addressed or embraced (environment, social equality, productivity, technology, post-COVID shifts in working patterns etc). Nevertheless, as 'necessity is the mother of invention', it would be a waste not to capture the invention born from the COVID necessity. Without glossing over the staggering human and financial cost, many things have accelerated beyond all expectations. This year has been a rollercoaster, and we are still on it. Back in March, a sense of crisis initially spurred all sectors to react, adapt, and overcome. This gave way to a sense of longer-term strain, which was lifted a little in late summer with a whiff of normality through easing before we all marched to the bottom of the hill through the second wave. So here we are,  tired but with a vaccine in tantalizing sight and realisation that there are  'hard yards' still to do and with the human and business cost still mounting.

In times of uncertainty and urgency, the sectors become more motivated to talk. New WIG members such as Honda, Google, Vodafone, and the Direct Line Group have recognised this. The enthusiasm to become informed, to check for best practice, to align analysis and compare context increases. We have certainly found evidence of this in the last year. Our member engagement figures have increased by 84% on 2019. We have had 12,444 total attendances to our events from Jan this year, with attendees from over 30 different countries, including 450 senior engagements at our Director and CEO Roundtables. The value of  investing in people development has been in evidence too. Bolstering the confidence, self-reliance, resilience, and skills of leaders is not a luxury but a necessity. We have welcomed 127 delegates to our programmes from 72 different organisations this year. We also continue with our work in placing board members across the sectors and are very proud that 24% of our appointments this year have been BAME candidates and 44 % women. There is still work to do, but the direction is right. We also continued to place Civil Service ‘Fast stream' graduates into charities and were pleased our contribution was recognised in an FT article.

Looking ahead, we are determined to capitalise on our digital delivery. Everyone has struggled with the lack of face-to-face contact and the networking opportunities it brings. We will be aiming for the ideal hybrid and blended approach when choices become available next year—the best access and convenience of digital but the reestablishment of physical networking opportunity. A brand new, state of the art and member friendly website will also be up and running next year.

Finally, I want to thank all of our members for working with us to deliver our charitable purpose, to increase cooperation, understanding, and learning across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors for the benefit of society. My thanks too to WIG’s board of trustees and Chairman, whose wise council and support continue to help us during these difficult times, and lastly, the extraordinary team at WIG who continue to make it happen through thick and thin.

Have a peaceful, restful, and healthy Christmas!


  • Simon Ancona CBE

    Chief Executive

    Simon Ancona enjoyed a full career in the Royal Navy including service in the Fleet Air Arm and appointments abroad in both Hong Kong and Bahrain. He commanded 4 warships, the UK’s Carrier Strike Group and UK maritime forces in the Middle East but also spent about 10 years in Whitehall including time in Ministerial outer office. His final appointment was as the Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff in charge of world-wide defence diplomacy and engagement. On leaving the military he worked as the Chief Operating Officer responsible for Network Rail’s North East London and Anglia region, which provided experience of commercial delivery and the challenges of operating at the seam of both the public and private sector. Married to Lisa he lives in South London and has two university aged children. Interests include cycling, walking, theatre, cooking, books and playing the blues Harmonica (normally when the house is empty).

    Simon writes a CEO Blog for WIG on topics that he identifies as relevant to and impacting on our members.