President's Report to Members - July 2020
New International President: Mr Peter Turnbull AM FCG
It is indeed a privilege to have been elected as The Chartered Governance Institute’s International President for the next two years (2020 – 2022). The Institute has a long and proud history of service to members, students and the governance community and to have the opportunity to be its International President is an honour and something to which I am very much looking forward.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and share my thoughts with you about what I see as the opportunities and challenges for the Institute over the next two years taking into account the unprecedented times that we are all having to cope with.
But first I would like to acknowledge the substantial achievements of my predecessor Edith Shih. Edith successfully led the Institute through its most significant visible change in decades. Building on the work of the previous two years under the Presidency of David Venus, when the Chartered Governance Professional designation was introduced, the Institute then took the bold step of changing its branding and name to the present…The Chartered Governance Institute. This initiative required significant leadership and vision in order to ensure that our diverse membership understood and supported the changes and it is here that Edith excelled. Today, we have an Institute which is well on its way to positioning itself as the global leader in governance. On behalf of our Institute, I thank Edith on all that was achieved under her leadership and for her dedicated, focussed and successful service to the Institute.
My involvement with The Chartered Governance Institute started as an Australian Representative member of Council in 2004. I was elected as a member of the Executive Committee in 2014 and as a Vice-President of the Institute in 2016. In Australia, my home, I have been closely involved with the work of Governance Institute of Australia for more than 2 decades as a member of the national board, former President (2010) and Life Member.
Beyond my involvement with the Institute I am a non-executive director and chair of listed public companies across a range of sectors including the technology commercialisation, mining, oil and gas and industrial manufacturing sectors. Prior to taking on non-executive positions, I held senior company secretarial, legal, commercial and governance positions with major Australian listed public companies and senior roles with key regulatory authorities in Australia and Hong Kong. I have a particular interest in assisting companies to raise capital and grow in order to help commercilaise the technologies of tomorrow particularly technologies which can help solve global population and environmental challenges.
Had I written this report 6 months ago there would, no doubt, have been a different set of priorities. However, the severe medical and economic impacts on business and people from Covid-19 has been profound and, sadly, the road to recovery could take quite some time yet, with further consequences yet to unfold. We must now plan ahead, cognisant of the economic circumstances which exist today, and project forward to likely future developments just as each of the Institute’s 9 Divisions is doing, having regard to their own local circumstances.
In these challenging times, there are some past priorities for the Institute that will endure, there will be others that will have a greater degree of urgency, and others to be considered that could challenge the way we have seen things in the past. The pandemic has dramatically amplified a number of trends that were already in train and has therefore, like many others, challenged the way we go about our work.
The work of the International Council of the Institute includes acting as an enabler to the Divisions to help facilitate their growth. Initiatives that can alleviate blockages, increase productivity or complement the Divisions’ own profile building to assist growth into new territories will be a priority.
My aim is to ensure that our strategic stance is looking outward to our members and students and forward to the growth of the Institute making the most of all identified opportunities.
- Improving connectivity and access
The pandemic has accelerated changes that may have been under consideration for some time but are now a reality. For The Chartered Governance Institute this has meant adapting quickly to the use of technology as so much of what we do involves bringing people together. Whilst disruptive, today’s environment brings opportunities and so one of the first initiatives already underway by our Divisions is to make much greater use of technology for teaching and learning as well as conducting examinations. Our Divisions are working together to make the best learning and examining technology available to our students and members. There will be some important changes over the months to come with the Council playing a role in fostering knowledge exchange between Divisions and by setting standards that maintain the Institute’s well-earned reputation for excellence in education and qualification.The Institute is also critically examining how we can more effectively bring members into our community. We want to build on the introduction of “Chartered Governance Professional” and “Affiliated” membership categories and ensure we are the international association to which all governance practitioners aspire to belong and can in fact belong. The Institute’s network of Divisions operates in vastly different economic and social environments but we also have substantial common ground on how we can admit new members. We will be looking at how we can meet the needs of prospective members in all jurisdictions whilst at the same time upholding the high standards the Institute has always maintained.
- Enhancing the brand
There has been substantial work generated by the Institute’s Thought Leadership Committee (TLC) this year that has also made excellent use of our eCommunity as a platform for distribution and discussion. This Institute must have a voice on important governance issues around the world. Our members expect it, regulators expect it and the business community expects it. A clear and unambiguous voice is a core element of our brand. The Council is mindful of ensuring the TLC is well resourced and supported so that it can continue the excellent work that we have all seen to date and will commit funds as necessary so that this future focussed work can continue.
Since the Institute’s formal name change, two divisions have adopted the new name for use in their jurisdiction – the Canadian and Southern African Divisions. Divisions were always free to decide for themselves if they wished to adopt the international Institute’s name and it is acknowledged that these decisions are complicated, can involve regulatory issues as well as need the support of the local membership. Nevertheless, the move to a more consistent naming and branding is progressing in a very positive direction and, as a result, the combined brand strength and reach of the Institute can only be enhanced.
- Building relationships
The Institute’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Institute of Company Secretaries of India has benefited members of both organisations as well as fostered greater cooperation between the two organisations. Pleasingly, there has been a constant number of members seeking to take advantage of the study exemptions and there have been a number of thought provoking joint webinar presentations that have been available to both memberships.
The Institute is constantly evaluating new opportunities which exist even in today’s difficult environment. As the importance and value of good governance practice continues to become more widely recognised there will be opportunities in emerging economies for the Institute to train new Chartered Secretaries and Chartered Governance Professionals. Some Divisions are already fostering relationships in new countries and it will be the role of the Council to support these growth initiatives.
- Thought leadership
Since my predecessor’s April 2020 Report to Members, we have held two major webinar events that were well received by members. On 2 June 2020 a webinar on Annual General Meetings under Covid-19 had over 2,800 people register to listen to practitioner first-hand experience of how to deal with the complexities of meeting statutory requirements, dealing with local lockdown restrictions as well as shareholder expectations now and into the future…whilst still conducting the necessary statutory business necessary at any AGM. A recording of the webinar can be accessed here via the Institute’s eCommunity in case you missed it.
June 2020 also saw the start of The Governance Exchange… a new interview webcast series geared towards examining global governance issues through the eyes of leading practitioners, academics and commentators across a range of countries. Short and sharp, these 1-to-1 interviews bring to light the insights and experiences that we all want to hear and learn from. All nine interviews from the series have now been released and can be accessed here via the Institute’s website.
- Council meeting
The Council had its second Zoom meeting of the year on 24 June 2020.
All members of Council are mindful of the economic conditions impacting Divisions and, as mentioned in the April 2020 report to members, the global Institute is now in a position to invest for the future and so has created a reserve fund from retained surpluses generated last year and forecasted for this year. The Reserve Fund has been put aside to support major initiatives as outlined above. The second development was that Council remains very mindful of the difficult current operating environment for all of the Institute’s 9 Divisions and has agreed that a reduced capitation fee will be payable by the Divisions for the 2020/2021 year. Payment over time arrangements have also been made available. Notwithstanding the reduced capitation fee, the global Institute has sufficient funds to continue with its planned growth initiatives over the coming 12 to 18 months.
The second regularly scheduled face to face meeting of Council was to be on 1 and 2 October 2020 in Zimbabwe. Council has decided to hold that meeting via Zoom and hopes that circumstances will return more to a more normal footing to enable a face to face meeting in the first or second quarter of 2021.
Annual General Meeting
The Institute is in the process of finalising details for the 2020 AGM. We expect that the AGM will be held in Australia, in late November or early December 2020. The meeting is expected to be streamed live so members from different parts of the world can fully participate in the meeting. The Annual Report for the Institute will be released sometime in September 2020 and posted on the Institute’s website with electronic notification in due course. Further details will be forthcoming once final arrangements have been agreed.
I close with a note of sincere appreciation to my predecessor, Edith Shih and fellow Council members, Divisional CEO’s, the Director General, Tim Sheehy, and the Institute Secretary, Cynthia Mora Spencer, who are unfailingly committed to serving the best interests of our members. With their guidance, and with your support, I am confident that our Institute and our profession is well-positioned to capture the opportunities of the coming years.
I look forward to serving you and working with you all.
Peter Turnbull AM FCG
24 July 2020
President’s Report to Members
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