Sir Martin Narey

Former CEO, Bernardo's & Former Director General, The Prison Service  

Speaker Themes

  • Leadership in Uncertainty

  • Personal Leadership

About Sir Martin Narey

As former Director General of the Prison Service and CEO at Barnardo’s, Martin has led in some of the toughest, most exposed environments. He speaks with profound honesty and authenticity about leading change, his struggles with leadership, and lessons learned.

Speaker Biography

Martin was appointed as the youngest ever Director General of the Prison Service in 1998. When running the Prison Service Martin was widely recognised for his commitment to transforming and motivating prison staff, and for his clarity of vision and determination to drive through improvements in the way in which prisoners were treated. He established the Decency Agenda in prisons, which led to significant improvements in prison conditions.

Martin was Chief Executive of Barnardo’s between 2005 and 2011. In that time, Barnardo’s grew in size and influence returning to its former place as the biggest children’s charity in the UK.

Martin paints a portrait of the challenges of the Prison Service, contrasting that with the management of a large charity, outlines why no one wanted the Director General job, why he did want it, and how very difficult it was to do. He talks frankly about the many challenges, including things he got badly wrong.

Reflecting on his wider managerial experience, he draws up a list of ten simple leadership rules which, he argues, apply in good times and bad and in any type of management job and which, he believes, helped him to win the Chartered Institute of Management’s Gold Medal for Leadership, the first public sector recipient of this for ten years.

Sir Martin Narey is the Government’s Adoption Czar, appointed in July 2011 and has also had roles as Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service and as a Permanent Secretary at the Home Office.

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