CEO Ian Baker to step down

23 Aug 2023

CEO Ian Baker. Photo by Ed Bagnall.

Ian Baker has taken the decision to step down as Chief Executive of SWA at the end of 2023, after eight years in the role. Ian feels it is long enough for anyone with this sort of responsibility, and that the time is right to enable a fresh infusion of ideas and energy with someone new at the top. 

Ian said: “I have been extremely lucky to work in such a wonderful organisation. Small Woods Association has a committed and supportive Board, a dedicated membership and an excellent, skilled staff team; all of which make the job of CEO much easier to do.

“Thanks to the work we have all done together, the organisation has progressed in so many ways since I joined in 2015. The experience of working with such a vibrant and inspiring team (staff, members and trustees) has been a really good one for me, it has made the job so much easier to do, and I know I have been incredibly lucky. I am sure you will be able to provide the same support to my successor.

“This is a very interesting time for Small Woods Association and the sector, as there are so many fascinating issues to tackle. SWA should be able to set out its stall for a new CEO who has the energy and enthusiasm to build on the opportunities that exist for the Association in a really powerful way. This is a great job for the right person.

“In terms of my own next steps, I will be taking a break to take stock and then make a decision about what to do next. I am not retiring, however, I will be downshifting and spending more time smelling the honeysuckle. I still feel I can make a useful contribution and still want to retain an interest in the sector."

John Blessington, Chair of Trustees, said: “The trustees wish to place it on record that Ian has been an excellent Chief Executive, moving the organisation forward in many ways and that Small Woods is now a body that is virtually unrecognisable from the one he joined eight years ago. We are grateful for the energy and enthusiasm Ian has always displayed and the professionalism he has brought to the role and the organisation.

“We wish him and his family well for the future and although he has banned talk of retirement, we know he will be taking more time for leisure and family.”

Ian has given a long notice period, with the intention that there should be a decent handover period with the new CEO. It is hoped that the December Board meeting can be the official handover point. This should also enable continuity of leadership during this important and challenging time.

The recruitment process is now led by the Board, and they have appointed Harris Hill to support them. If you would like to find out more about the role, click here.