We travel to the Isle of Man for today’s rather special Sovereign Story. Based in the Douglas office, Group Managing Director Diane Dentith celebrated her fortieth work anniversary in February 2023. Hang on. We thought Sovereign was founded in 1987 – a long time ago indeed but not yet forty years. Diane told us how that came to be and we went on to learn a little more about her fascinating journey.
Diane grew up ten miles outside Glasgow. Always keen on foreign languages, she graduated with a diploma in Secretarial Studies with both French and German – ever the pragmatist, she thought if she could type, she could always find work. In the summer of 1982, she decided to take a summer job in the Isle of Man although she did not plan to stay very long. Love intervened; she met Phil Dentith in her first week and has never looked back.
After a few years, the couple eloped to Gretna Green to get married, and they have gone on to raise a lovely family with three children. Sons Cory and Ryan studied at Edinburgh University but have since returned to the island – and with daughter Erin, all three work in the local finance industry. Diane tells us that it is her greatest joy to have her whole family near her (nowhere on the island is that far away) and they all remain especially close.
Having decided to stay in the Isle of Man, Diane joined International Company Services Limited (“ICS”) in 1983. It was her first permanent job and in a manner of speaking, she has never left: to say so, however, would be grossly unfair for her story was just beginning. Initially, she worked as secretary to the firm’s owner where the staff complement was just five, so she had to do “a bit of everything”. She finds it difficult to believe that Sovereign now employs well over five hundred people worldwide.
Sometime later, now-Sovereign Chairman Howard Bilton joined ICS and entered into partnership with its owner. In 1988, he led the “demerger” of the business when he split away from ICS to create Sovereign. Diane joined him in the new venture and as he says, a large part of Sovereign’s success in the ensuing 35 years resulted from her incredible contribution. Based on a solid work ethic, Diane regularly works twelve-hour days – and has done so throughout her career.
Husband Phil joined the team although Diane grins when she says that he is one of the “newer staff members joining as late as 1988”. Moving abroad had not been part of their early plans but the following year they were off to Cockburn Town, capital of the Turks & Caicos Islands (“TCI”) some 650 miles southeast of Miami.
It was important to Diane and Phil that their children were born in the Isle of Man even if they spent their formative years abroad thereafter. After three successful years running the busy TCI office, the couple returned to the Isle of Man where son Cory arrived in 1992.
Just three months later another move took place, this time to Gibraltar where again Diane managed the office for a further two years before returning home to welcome second son Ryan. Their daughter Erin completed the family arriving in 1998. This coincided with the demerger of ICS; their bags were soon re-packed as they returned to Gibraltar for 6 months that promptly turned into 4 years! In 2002 they decided that their time living abroad was probably over and the Isle of Man has been their home ever since.
Diane tells us that no two days are ever alike and she continues to relish her work, always assisting other staff throughout the Group with a smile. Still routinely working late, Diane admits that whilst husband Phil is happy to start winding down his working life, she has 5 years on him so is not yet quite ready to retire.
Phil is a keen motorbike enthusiast and the couple have spent hundreds of happy hours touring on two wheels. This came in handy crossing the border in and out of Gibraltar during their stints there as it avoided traffic queues. Phil has recently bought himself a Honda Gold Wing – and Diane sheepishly admits she finds the back seat rather more comfortable than some of sportsbikes they have owned in the past, which now clutter up their garage.
Diane’s own passions out of work include a continuing love of travel, especially life on board a cruise ship. The couple enjoyed two European cruises last year but in the past have returned year after year to the Caribbean that they have known for more than three decades.
When not travelling somewhere on a bike or a cruise ship, Diane enjoys music – but would not be drawn on a particular genre. “Just all sorts” she says.
Visitors to the office will also have met Jasper, a gorgeous Shih Tzu whom Diane bought with Erin in mind as a pup eight years ago. Jasper though has firmly adopted Diane as his ‘Person’ and they are hardly ever apart. With a “zero” birthday approaching for her this year, Diane is grateful that Jasper gets her walking three times a day allowing her to clock up 10,000 steps daily (and often double at weekends). Diane and Jasper walk into work every morning – come rain or shine – and he never gets a day off as someone brings him into the office even if Diane is away. We all know that dogs are good in the office and Diane often finds Jasper on someone’s knee having a cuddle when a staff member feels low. He even joins Diane on Wednesdays when, after working all day, they go to the local pub quiz night where their team is named after him: Jasperdinho!
Over time, Diane has added STEP and ITPA memberships to her fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries (FCIS), admitting that this was not the type of secretarial work she had initially envisaged! Diane’s Sovereign journey is well known to the longer time-served staff but on her 40th anniversary, it deserves to be publicised to a much wider audience.
In his special message to all Sovereign employees marking the occasion, Chairman Howard Bilton paid Diane the ultimate compliment when he wrote “…it would be an understatement to say that she is an important part of Sovereign. She is Sovereign.” Diane was overwhelmed by the huge number of messages received from colleagues – many of them inspired by her over the years. She would like to thank them all, especially all her colleagues whom she now counts more as friends and family! In her own words “with hard work, you can achieve anything”.
Thank you Diane for taking the time to tell us your Sovereign Story and for telling us a little more about your passions away from the office. We add our congratulations on your remarkable achievement and here’s to many more years.