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IR Society celebrates the ascent of IR at Best Practice Awards

The Investor Relations Society held its annual Best Practice Awards dinner in which companies are recognised for leading the way in engaging with the capital markets, building trust and strengthening corporate reputation.

For the fifth year running, EMR's consultants, Anastasia Pittas and Muksheeda Boodhooa were proud to present the Best Newcomer Award to James Collin, Head of IR at Sainsbury's. Anastasia and Muksheeda sat down with James and the runners up to discuss how they entered the world of IR and what they have achieved so far.

Best Newcomer to IR Winner - James Collins, Head of IR at Sainsbury's

What was your background before moving into IR and why did you make the transition?
Having initially worked in the grocery industry (for Aldi and Safeway), I was a sell-side analyst covering the European food retail sector for 18 years before I moved to Sainsbury’s in September 2016. As an analyst I enjoyed working closer with corporates on IPOs and other projects and had been looking to move back to the corporate side for some time. I was keen to join Sainsbury’s as I liked the business, management and culture.

What do you feel has been your most significant contribution to your IR role so far?
Probably best to ask my colleagues that question! But alongside the benefit of bringing an external set of eyes and city experience in-house, I have helped rationalise the reporting process (four reports per year from six) and improved the process of producing results, particularly around better, more efficient coordination with the communications team. Over time, I would hope to build better relationships with the buy-side and a better approach to targeting and building an engaged base of core shareholders.  

Runner up - Ed Sands, Director of IR at Lloyds Bank

What was your background before moving into IR and why did you make the transition?
I read Law at university and then joined the Lloyd's TSB finance graduate scheme. I qualified as a management accountant and worked in the finance function at Lloyd's for several years before trying my hand at IR. I joined the IR team because it was a really exciting opportunity to develop myself in a new way. I have been in several finance roles and learned a lot from them, but IR gives you something different – an opportunity to deal with some really interesting and challenging external stakeholders, as well as an opportunity to relay investor and analyst feedback to senior management teams. In a group as large as Lloyd's, IR also gives you the scope to understand what is going on across the whole business, as well as think more about the external environment. The exposure IR has given me has also made me a better banker and accountant as well.

What do you feel has been your most significant contribution to your IR role so far?
Being nominated for this award is a pretty big achievement in its own right! It's great to know that somebody out there feels I'm doing a good job and was motivated enough to nominate me. I remember when I attended my first investor meeting and I felt that the breadth of questioning was amazing – it's a pleasure to know I'm now comfortable in dealing with those questions and I'm trusted by the senior management team to represent the Group and somebody feels I'm doing it well. More practically, I am really pleased with being able to conduct a three-day roadshow in the US and Canada on my own. It was my first time on the road solo and I had some very positive meetings that taught me a lot about dealing with investors and conducting a roadshow.

Runner up - Paul Tymms, Director of IR at Ladbrokes Coral

What was your background before moving into IR, and why did you make the transition? 

I worked in a number of Group roles (including Finance and Corporate Development) for the privately owned Gala Coral Group. Preparation for our Private Equity shareholder exits naturally exposed me to the world of Investor Relations, which became my formal role post completion of the merger between the Coral Group and Ladbrokes in 2016.

What do you feel has been your most significant contribution to your IR role so far? 
Communicating the the newly merged Ladbrokes Coral's investment case to a broad audience in what is a fast moving and increasingly high profile sector.

You can find out more and see the full list of winners at the IR Society Awards here

Read about how IR Society celebrates the ascent of IR at Best Practice Awards

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