The Master

9075This year’s Master is an example of ‘Arts and Trade United’ – the Motto of the Fan Makers’ Company – in that he is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Arts, and the Royal Aeronautical Society.  Dr Smith has been associated with aerospace since his earliest teens, and with the City of London for the last 30 years. Joining the Air Training Corps at age 14 he took his first flight, in a Piston Provost, the following year, and received the Freedom of the City in 1987.  Leaving Colfe’s school at age 16, he earnt his living for the next seven years as a part-time rock drummer whilst studying for GCEs and then an HND in Business Studies.  In 1969 he was commissioned into the Secretarial Branch of the Regular Service.

Thereafter, he undertook a diversity of appointments which included being a senior executive in the field with responsibility for 3,000 people; and a tutor at both the RAF College and the RAF Staff College. As a military Legal, Finance and HR Director some of his more unusual professional involvement included blackmail, cryptography, drug addiction, espionage, poverty, autopsies, fraud, theft, infant mortality, murder, rape, sodomy, state honours & awards, suicide, and terminal illness. Dr Smith has chaired or advised Courts of Inquiry into fatal accidents and serious incidents, and sat as a member of over 30 Courts Martial.  Deciding to leave the Military after only 20 years, having been tempted into management consultancy, his Service career culminated as an adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Chief of Defence Staffs on personnel and financial issues for 300,000 military personnel, plus the senior Civil Service, the senior Judiciary, and NHS Consultants.

In 1993 he founded Griffonage specialising in Executive & NED search, adding coaching in 2006. Focusing on aerospace, defence and Formula 1/Le Mans motorsport, for the next 18 years he conducted interviewing, coaching, facilitation and consultancy at Board & Executive level, primarily in the UK and USA, but also in Continental Europe, China and Singapore.  Realising the value of Griffonage in 2012, he then spent a year as a Visiting Professor during which time he designed and delivered a post-graduate course on A Coaching Approach to Leadership.  Throughout 2015 & 2016, via the Institute of Directors, he was engaged as an executive coach to a senior member of Her Majesty’s Household.

Today, Dr Smith’s professional focus is on helping executives further develop themselves, and understand why they, and their teams, behave the way they do, particularly in periods of change and stress, so assisting them maximise their individual and collective performances, and so grow their businesses.  He does this via Experience Tells Ltd, a business consultancy he launched in 2015 with two other international senior executives which now, with additions to the Board, reflects all principal activities of a typical Board of Directors of a high-technology company, especially aerospace.

Dr Smith holds a Professional Doctorate in Senior Executive Coaching & Team Learning, and an MA in Business Coaching. His Doctoral thesis was entitled A Learning Team Approach to Executive Recruitment, Coaching & Consultancy, Middlesex University.  This was followed by the peer-reviewed publication Two Coaches Operating as a Learning Pair, Oxford Brookes University.

Until 2016, he was a member of the Court of Cranfield University for seven years.  He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, of the Chartered Management Institute, and of the Institute of Directors.  For 20 years he was a member of the Honourable Artillery Company and the Carlton Club.  In 2015 he became a Council Member of the Air League where he now leads the development of an Alumni of Flying & Engineering Scholarship winners and, therefore, the promotion of young people into the UK aerospace & aviation industries of the 21st century.

He became a Liveryman of the Fan Makers’ Company in 1989.  During his time in the Company he has been Chairman of the Livery Committee, the Recruitment Committee, and initiated the affiliation of the City of London with II (AC) Squadron RAF.  Additionally, he organised the Company’s Millennium, and in 2009 the Company’s Tercentenary, celebrations.  Like all Masters, he is a joint trustee of the Company’s charitable funds.

Granted his persMaster & Wife Jennifer 2018onal Coat of Arms in 2003, with the motto Success in Adversity, Dr Smith’s private interests include geopolitics, military & political history, palaeontology, popular science, opera, classical music & theatre, period detective fiction, walking, motor sport and steam locomotives.  He has been a member of the RAF Club for nearly 50 years.  Married to Jennifer in 1970, they live in Hampshire, have two adult children and three grandchildren.