New course for directors — a frank review

Posted by Trisha Mok FGIA, Past President and Non-Executive Director, Governance Institute of Australia and Executive Director, Legal & Compliance and Company Secretary, Scentia on 06/10/2017

I recently attended Governance Institute’s new Effective Director Course in Sydney — three great days of:

  • new governance learnings, especially around soft skills
  • practical insights into how to get that elusive non-executive director role
  • making new business connections.

Even though I ‘live’ governance 24/7 as Executive Director, Legal & Compliance and Company Secretary at Scentia and Past President of Governance Institute, I genuinely believe good governance is a journey, not a destination and that non-executive directors (NEDs) need to continually invest in lifelong learning that will enhance their skills and make them a more effective director.

The course does just that. The sessions were varied and the content updated my governance knowledge. But perhaps more importantly in my case, I learnt essential new soft skills. I am confident that these soft skills will strengthen my position as a director and I can put my learnings into practice immediately at my next board meeting and across my entire business dealings in an executive role. 

Let me provide an overview of the three modules.

Dr Peter Crow, who advises boards and directors on corporate purpose, strategy, corporate governance and effective board practice, laid the foundations in Module 1 regarding the role and function of both the individual director and the board. This was an excellent refresher for me and a strong foundation for those with less governance experience. Module 2 facilitated by Richard Willcock, who is a corporate governance practitioner with board and senior executive level experience, provided some of my key take-outs of the course including identifying behaviours, the importance of soft skills and awareness of others. The course addresses critical soft skills, such as team working, communication, ability to assess situations and read between the lines, intuition and the like. Paul Lahiff, who sits on the board of AUB Group Limited and was previously chief executive of Mortgage Choice Limited, facilitated Module 3. He addressed the practical techniques for acquiring a NED role and pushed participants to think about their unique value proposition and conducted a number of interactive exercises regarding personal brand, networking and avenues to explore for NED roles.

A highlight for me was guest presenter David Reynolds from Davidson Executive and Boards. David gave us invaluable insight from a NED coaching and search firm perspective. He was even kind enough to review my director profile and provided deep insight that enabled me to finesse it into two concise pages, no easy task for an at times verbose lawyer!

The course is not designed specifically for governance professionals seeking to expand their career into a NED role. It is equally relevant for those who have a broad and longstanding understanding of business at a senior level and who may also wish to pursue a career as a NED or are in the early stages of a NED career.

And like many today, I’m time poor.  With a busy executive and family life, I seek the efficient option, so I chose the three-day course rather than a longer form one. The course comprises two initial days, with a break of a week or so before the third day. This break is really useful. It allows time for reflection, to do the multiple-choice test regarding the first two modules and ponder your unique value proposition as a NED before attending the third module.

And finally, my advice to anyone considering this course and keen to know what should they expect to get out of it is to sign up, read the materials, interact, ask questions and get involved!  Interested?  Check out this great new course at governanceinstitute.com.au/director


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