National Conference — Purpose. Performance. Value.


I know many of you are still on a high from our National Conference, which took place in Melbourne last week — there were so many insights and ideas to motivate us in our roles to deliver future focused whole-of-organisation governance best practice.

Acting Chief Executive, Meegan George, provided an overview of day one of the conference in her blog. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts from day two for those who missed the event.

We kicked off day two with a frank and insightful fireside chat with Simon Katich, who discussed the recent cultural and systemic issues in governance within Australian cricket head-on. He spoke of how governance must re-focus on the purpose of the game that was central until the 90’s — players need to rediscover an appreciation for the opportunity to represent the sport and put the game’s interest before individual interests.

We also announced our new president for 2019. I was honoured to hand over the reins to Rachel Rees FGIA. This means that next year, for the first time, Governance Institute of Australia will be led by a female President and CEO team, with Rachel Rees joining our incoming CEO, Megan Motto.

Justin Wood, Head of APAC for World Economic Forum, painted a sweeping picture of geopolitics and the potential risks brought on by multi polarity and diffusion of power in an increasingly multi-conceptual world. The instability is compounded by the fact that various power centres have differing systems of governance, political norms and societal values. All of this has an impact on global risks, top lined by unemployment and underemployment, fiscal crises and failure of national governance. For Australia the top three risks of doing business in 2019 are

  • energy price shock
  • cyber attacks
  • asset bubble.

Two of our best known non-executive directors Diane Smith-Gander and Kevin McCann AM followed Justin Wood with a discussion on how boards can strengthen their risk oversight. Diane shared her practical view for directors of large and complex organisations: Throw the rules away, step out into the sunshine and look at how you’re leading these organisations.

Diane later joined Yvonne Butler FGIA and Kyle Loades to address how connected customers, new-age workforce and workplace models are shifting business strategy and market dynamics. They reminded us to ask how the business is performing against the strategy, risks and opportunities as a whole, so we don’t get lost in translation. John Wallace, Chief Data Officer, ASIC and Anthony Stevens, Founder, Digital Asset Ventures, led separate concurrent sessions which considered the scale of technological risks and the challenges for data governance in the fourth industrial revolution.

I had the pleasure of announcing our two recipients of the President’s Award — leading practitioners Peter Whyntie FGIA (NSW) and Christine Hayward FGIA (QLD) received the Award for their substantial and sustained contribution to the work of Governance Institute of Australia.  Both Peter Whyntie and Christine Hayward are exceptional figures in governance and deserve recognition for their commitment to personal and organisational best practice.

Worried that the robots will take over your job? According to Professor Toby Walsh, it is unlikely. He believes that data is the new oil. There are some jobs that we could automate —but we will choose not to automate them. Just think about the jobs that benefit from real social interaction. He challenged our thinking on AI and ethics — if machines do what humans tell them, are we building in bias?

In a fireside chat about technology and the rules for purposeful engagement Dr Hugh Williams, Distinguished Fellow, Melbourne Business School, Non-Executive Director, Redbubble and Rome2rio said the clearest message is that you must be honest and clear about what you are doing with a user’s data. And, if you are using a third party in any capacity that accesses that data, you are still responsible for your original promise to the user.

We closed the conference with one of our millennial leaders, Holly Ransom, Founder and CEO, Emergent. On engaging with a new generation of business leaders, Holly reminded us of the importance of starting with our ‘why’ — our purpose. Because that is what motivates the younger generation. As directors, we need to think about our role in the world. We need to define our purpose — a purpose that is bigger than the bottom line.

I am already excited for #GovCon19 which will focus on people and renewal — how people can breathe life into a new cultural norm. That new expectation of not just can we but should weSubscribe for updates in your inbox!

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