How accidentally becoming company secretary paved the way for the future

Closeup of person writing on notepad

There’s no doubt that being chief financial officer for a junior listed company in Perth going through the commodity down turn had its challenges. And like many in Perth at the time, I not only had to find ways to cut costs, I was accidentally thrust into the role of company secretary. 

Slightly panicked, I had to think fast and began researching the qualifications I needed for my newly acquired position. Coincidentally, I had already been thinking about further study. Being an accountant, I wanted to enhance my skills — without slaving my life away. I was looking down the road at options for semi-retirement with the prospect of pursuing non-executive director (NED) roles, so everything fell into place.

Accidentally becoming a company secretary was the perfect time to complete the Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance and prepare myself for future NED roles. I attended lectures at Governance Institute of Australia and completed four modules in 18 months. By doubling the modules per semester, I fast-tracked my qualification in accordance with my lifestyle and work commitments.

Since completing the course, I’ve been appointed director of finance for a Perth hospital. The skills gained from the Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance are relevant irrespective of whether you’re looking at the legal requirements of company directors or a not-for-profit hospital where your customer is also the patient. The course knowledge has armed me with a thorough understanding of an organisation’s obligations, and confirmed my belief that in any organisation, clear policies around governance and risk are paramount. 

The course structure wasn’t too onerous, even though I was doubling the modules — although the exam was not something I looked forward to!  But hey, what the heck, I just channelled my inner student. 

That aside, I would encourage anyone, even those who are time poor — and who isn’t these days — to do more than one module at a time. I have been in my new role for a few months, and I use the tools I have acquired through the Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance every day.

The course is invaluable for people looking to excel in their current role, with a broad diversity of subjects. And the content covered is second-to-none. I formed a strong network with my course buddies, which has proved particularly useful, as when I come up against challenges, I can brainstorm through Governance Institute’s membership channels and the networks I gained there. The breadth of the course is a must for anyone moving up to a management level.  Whether advising a board or a management team, the whole-of-organisation governance skills gained are imperative.

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