Report: The Future of the Governance Professional Released

Do you have what you’ll need to succeed by 2025? A new study suggests that by then, the role of the governance professional is likely to undergo numerous changes and will require a wider skill set.

The study, conducted by the Governance Institute of Australia (GIA) in May, consisted of three parts: 11 initial interviews, an online survey which drew 285 responses and a roundtable attended by 10 governance experts.

Participants across each part of the study tended to agree that change is in the air. Indeed, 83 per cent of online respondents expect their roles to change significantly or ‘somewhat’ by 2025.

Overall, participants believed that the governance professional of the future will not only have to deal with much more complexity and new technologies on the way to 2025, but also a much faster pace of change.

Change is expected to be influenced by a range of factors, including increased scrutiny from a wider range of stakeholders and the fact that social media gives every stakeholder a voice.

Study participants saw customers and culture becoming a bigger focus for boards – after all, the key message from the banking royal commission was that organisations need to foster a culture that prioritises customers over profits.

They added that stakeholders are increasingly likely to boost their scrutiny of organisations’ non-financial metrics, such as diversity, sustainability and culture, will create more pressures for boards.

Added to this, regulatory change, again driven by the Hayne royal commission, is expected to intensify. This was the view across the study and held by 80 per cent of online respondents who said implementing regulatory reform was an important or the most important challenge they face today.

However, only 30 per cent of online respondents felt prepared or well prepared to face the governance challenges of 2025.

According to the study’s report, which will be released at the Governance Institute’s National conference in Sydney in September, governance professionals will still need to have a solid understanding of financial, legal and IT issues, but will also require a greater range of soft skills. These included:

  • Great judgement.
  • Curiosity and a drive to get to the bottom of a problem and think outside the square.
  • The ability to zone in on the core information required by the organisation and prioritise different information streams.
  • The capacity to see the world in a broader and more nuanced way than management and then to work out how all the disparate pieces of information fit together.
  • Good communication, collaboration and negotiation skills as well as the emotional intelligence to understand human behaviour and boardroom dynamics.
  • The ability to liaise at all levels of the organisation, with all types of stakeholders. And to be ‘Switzerland’ – that is, to be fair and stay neutral in disputes.
  • The capability to run ‘common sense’ checks over sophisticated datasets and ensure they are correct – not just relying on machines, or assistants, to do so.
  • An understanding of systems and processes across the organisation.
  • A grasp of the mechanisms needed to reshape the organisation’s culture.
  • Project management skills, including strong time management and multi-tasking skills.

The full report can be read here.

Governance Institute of Australia would like to acknowledge our sponsors Diligent and LexisNexis for their support of this research.

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