You don’t know what you don’t know

Posted by Kate Charters, Director, Management Solutions (Qld) on 17/02/2017

A government bureaucrat for 20 years and running my own business for over 15 years, I thought I had the governance of boards and chairing meetings down pat and was up to speed on the processes and procedures inherent in sitting on an executive board.

Well so much for that! When I was awarded Governance Institute’s Chant Legacy Scholarship — which enabled me to do the Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance — I got a new insight into how much more I needed to know. Yes, the graduate diploma is a tough, robust course but it has given me an opportunity to gain knowledge, expertise and new ways of thinking about how board capacity in good governance is primary to organisational leadership and in turn high performing organisations. It is a privilege to in turn share this with a wide audience of regional communities, individuals and board members, and to be part of assisting board capacity in regional Australia.

I’m passionate about regional Australia which is full of community minded people, innovative businesses and leaders. So much of the advancement of regional Australia depends on people who will undertake the responsibilities to be on the local chamber of commerce, health, education, environmental and other management boards but governance is not something in which many have had the opportunity of formal training. I knew that if I could enhance my knowledge and expertise in the area of governance I could help to strengthen that capacity in regional Australia.

The Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance was the hardest thing I have ever done. While mentally challenging, it was academically strong and extremely interesting. I understand so much better the underlying principles, how to apply these to establish good governance strategies and how to operationalise them.

A favourite lecturer of mine said ‘A board needs to have their fingers out and their noses in’, that quote has been invaluable, I have since claimed it! So now when I sit in meetings (I’m on several boards because of my growing profile in the space), I can participate in a stronger and more useful capacity because I understand my position, obligations and the organisational relationships. The penny has dropped!  I now have a much stronger appreciation that while boards and management hold close ties to one another, their duties and responsibilities are distinctly different. This has made a huge difference to the value I can add to my board roles and good governance.

Additionally, having completed one of Governance Institute’s postgraduate courses when I sit on a board and there is a presentation of the accounts and finances I know what I am looking at … I’m not a lawyer and have no aspirations to be an accountant but it is good to know the fundamentals. I also understand more how my extensive organisational management experience and knowledge of policy practice can contribute.

 Participating in the courses offered by Governance Institute gave me a greater feeling of confidence both professionally and personally, if I can do it anyone can but you need to be thirsty, self-directed and driven. It’s a hard slog but achievable and immensely invaluable.

Another great advantage of being a member of the Institute is that I can instantly access the resources through the website, use the available tools and get professional advice. The strong web-based learning and resource offerings allow members, including people in rural, regional and remote locations to be immersed and mentored in the many support and professional development opportunities the Institute offers.

Thanks to my scholarship and Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance I am much more self-assured in all aspects of governance and more importantly, I now know what I didn’t know!


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