Carving a successful career in governance

I was honored, surprised and truly chuffed when I was recently awarded the Semester 2, 2016 Ian Falconer Award for the Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance’s overall best graduating student. As an accountant, internal auditor, non-executive director I am keenly aware that my skills must be aligned with the governance needs of a rapidly changing and increasingly complex commercial environment. For me, the Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance was just the ticket.


Given that my professional training had been predominately in accounting, I felt the need to expand my technical skills in governance to better equip me to perform my current role, as well as positioning me for future career opportunities. I see good governance being fundamental to how a company can (and should) operate. The pace of regulatory change will remain an ongoing challenge for all businesses, as will the pace of technological change, which brings its own challenges around data management and cyber security. The need to manage these issues effectively, within an environment of ever present cost and budgetary pressures, is a constant tension.


Drawing on an often-misquoted management adage — ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’: if a company operates without a good, whole-of-organisation governance framework, it arguably runs the very great risk that its management will remain largely or wholly unaware of significant threats to the business. This leaves them liable to be blindsided by external developments (such as changes to regulation, markets, competitor activities.) or unaware of internal decay (for example, breakdown in process, departure from core strategy.). A good, whole-of-organisation governance framework goes to the very core of every organisation.  It’s about the processes for making and implementing decisions. It’s not about making ‘correct’ decisions.  It’s about the best possible process for making those decisions and permeates throughout the entire organisation.  Things like culture, risk management, compliance, and admin are all elements of governance.


In short, my advice to anyone seeking to enhance their knowledge in governance is they should read, study and talk to people. We are so lucky to have a broad range of online resources available through Governance Institute. I would strongly recommend that anyone interested in progressing in this field to familiarises themselves with these materials.  Personally, I think the Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance is the ‘must have’ qualification for those determined to carve out a successful career governance or indeed the C-suite.  In my case I believe it equips me well also for further non-executive director roles.


And don’t let distance deter you from continuing your professional development. Being based in Newcastle, online study was  perfect for me.  I could study anywhere, anytime — on the train or while I waited to board a flight at the airport. Governance Institute also offers intensive Saturday classes, so you only need to attend classes once a month. Download the handbook to find a study mode to suit your lifestyle.


Finally, I would encourage people to network with other governance professionals.  That will certainly be a priority for me now I am also a member of Governance Institute.

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