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CEO Memo — International governance…Same same but different!

Last week in Taipei I had my first real foray into the international world of governance through a range of meetings with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA).

As members will of course know, Australia is one of nine divisions which collectively make up ICSA. The various meetings between CEOs, Council, and the subsequent one-day conference jointly hosted between the Hong Kong division and the local Taiwanese group, were not only informative, but gave rise to a number of observations, which I thought I would share.

International collaboration for the benefit of members around the world is important. Despite increasing nationalism in some jurisdictions, organisations of all shapes and sizes are increasingly global in a hyperconnected world. Companies operating across multiple jurisdictions through technological and physical platforms are becoming more and more frequent. This brings a new dimension of complexity for those navigating the regulatory and business landscape (on top of the normal cultural nuances of different markets). The common language to make sense of this complexity is governance.

Staying modern and relevant for the long-term benefit of our members is a task which we are all focused on.

So many of the prevalent issues for Australian governance professionals are shared across the globe, although local legislative and regulatory systems mean that the ‘seamless global economy’ has more than a few loopholes and potholes to navigate. Topics such as related party transactions, governance and risk, stakeholder management and technology are impacting organisations all over the world, and Company Secretaries, C-suites and directors are more than ever having to navigate trends in these areas.

For this reason, training and information sharing is an instrumental part of developing the knowledge and networks to position individuals and organisations for success in an uncertain future.

More directly, ICSA will play an increasingly critical role as the global connector of much of this thinking at the international level. ICSA’s plans to develop more thought leadership in the areas of board diversity and sustainability (in the broader sense of the word) will be useful tools for members to consider these issues in light of international context. I look forward to Governance Institute of Australia being an integral part of these projects going forward.

Probably my biggest observation came from networking with my fellow CEOs and councillors from around the different parts of the world, and that is whilst we have some notable differences, we have a lot more in common. All divisions are facing the same challenges that we are tackling locally — keeping up to date in a world where members want more services, often digitally delivered against a backdrop of scarcer resources (in particular, time). Staying modern and relevant for the long-term benefit of our members is a task which we are all focused on.

Of course, the thing that always strikes me the most is that no matter what country or continent we are from, the commonalities between those joined through our passionate governance community is clear. The group of people working at the international level (including of course our own Peter Turnbull FGIA(Life) FCIS and Frank Bush FGIA(Life) FCIS are dedicated, hard-working and incredibly impressive. ICSA is in good hands and is proactively positioning itself (and its constituent divisions) for the future.

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