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Lessons for directors

Add value to your board career
In an era of rapid technological change and with increased focus on corporate conduct, a lifelong learning mindset will be a director’s best ally. An increasing number of company directors are seeking professional development and education opportunities that build on the basics of corporate governance and, indeed, go well beyond.
Benefits of undertaking an advance education course include:

In mid-2017, Mirvac Group chair John Mulcahy MAICD, also a director of ALS, GWA Group, and Zurich Australia, and chair of Orix Australia, organised for the property developer’s board and key executives to participate in a half-day workshop at the University of Sydney’s John Grill Centre for Project Leadership.

He believes the experience has enhanced the organisation’s project management governance. While Mirvac already had very strong governance in place the session helped emphasise the importance of milestone reviews.

“There are a number of gateways in the life of any major project and it is a good thing to recognise that these are opportunities rather than stumbling blocks,” he says.

“We always did a number of milestone reviews, but we now have more knowledge about the importance of these, which has led to more time spent questioning before a project even begins, carrying on right through the early stages of design and risk assessment, well before anyone actually arrives on site.”

Professor Suresh Cuganesan, CEO of the John Grill Centre for Project Leadership, says directors have much to gain from pausing to think deeply about the governance around major projects their businesses are undertaking.

When major projects go poorly, it is often because of decisions, or non-decisions, that were made right at the start. So, boards can benefit from a better understanding of when the critical points for intervention are.
Suresh Cuganesan

Understanding ethics

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has prompted many boards — including those from beyond the finance sector — to engage more seriously with ethics and cultural training.

Enhancing core competencies

The lifecycle of a company often gives rise to opportunities to engage in an advanced education course. For example, mergers and acquisition activities may mean a greater importance is placed on your understanding of complex financial reporting, and therefore an important skillset to add to your capabilities to understand the health of the company.

Digital literacy

One of the hottest topics on the agenda for savvy directors is improving their technological and digital literacy. Digital expertise is invariably applied to various areas that impact organisations including disruption caused, and how it brings leaders together globally.

Exposure to big ideas

Even with the level of knowledge that many senior executives have, there is always value to be gained from experts in new technologies and forecasting the future, especially for organisations to remain innovative.

This is an abridged version of the article.

The full version of this article appeared in the Company Director magazine (September 2018 issue), and is available on the Australian Institute of Company Director’s website