Company Directors Course Residential

Our International Programs Executive, Anna McCea, followed up with the four recipients after completing their courses, to learn about their experiences and how the course has made a difference to their roles and views on governance.

Katrina Van De Ven MAICD is the Chief Operations Officer of Young Australians in International Affairs (YAIA). She is based in Sydney and has long-term goals of transforming her extensive not-for-profit experience into board positions in the international affairs space.

Cheryl Thornton AAICD is the Vice-Chair of e7 Daughters of the Emirates, Promise of a Generation (POAG), and is based in the UAE. Her organisation is aimed at developing the next generation of female leaders in the UAE.

Ritesh Ratiram MAICD, Managing Director of Growa Fish (Fiji) Ltd is based in Fiji and runs a private aquaculture venture. Growa Fish (Fiji) has a mission to contribute to food security for the region, as well as to run completely on renewable energy.

Raymond John MAICD is a Council Member of Papua New Guinea Human Resources Institute (PNGHRI), an organisation responsible for the advancement and development of the HR profession in Papua New Guinea.

Why did you apply for the scholarship?

KV: As COO, I was excited by the global focus of the course. Specifically, I felt the ICDC would enable me to develop my knowledge of best-practice governance across the Indo-Pacific, in addition to enhancing my cross-cultural understanding and bolstering my network of contacts throughout the region.

CT: I’ve had this qualification on my ‘bucket list’ since joining AICD in 2013 but didn’t take any action until I assumed my first board role with a local NFP at the beginning of 2018. Given I would be self-funding for the course, I applied for the scholarship after identifying critical gaps in my director-level capabilities; specifically in global governance. Having now completed the ICDC, I can testify first-hand this is a world-class program.

RR: Being the most inexperienced board member on a high performing board [Growa Fish (Fiji)], I wanted to broaden my director knowledge and improve my ability to make significant contributions in the boardroom. I’m also running my own startup business with plans to expand, so I wanted the right training in thinking/performing like a company director. I’m very grateful to be granted the scholarship.

RJ: I’m currently a council member at PNG Human Resources Institute (PNGHRI) and I also have aspirations to become a professional director in the future, so I saw it as an opportunity to improve my skills and knowledge in directorship and governance.

What was your biggest takeaway from the training?

KV: The course solidified my belief in the pre-eminence of organisational culture. I now have a framed copy of Peter Drucker’s seminal quote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” sitting on my desk as a constant reminder of this.

CT: The ICDC is a game-changer course and has given me a very high baseline to confidently pursue a board career. Going forward there is greater potential to open doors for me to international board opportunities.

RR: A few things: I learnt that the responsibility of the board is to hold management to account; that the chair makes or breaks the board; and the importance of in-camera sessions before a board meeting. But the biggest takeaway for me has been clarity of the organisation’s mission and strategy to marshal internal and external resources in delivering value over the long-term.

RJ: The Fiji Directors course helped me hone my director skills and knowledge. The two biggest takeaways for me were understanding the various financial statements and what questions to ask; and elements of risk management. I have now introduced risk management tools and frameworks for some of our key activities.

How do you plan to share your learnings from the course with the organisation/board/community that you serve/ work with?

KV: Corporate governance is currently a focus for our organisation. Recent discussions amongst the directors have focused on changing the organisation’s legal structure, and engaging an Advisory Board. Completion of the ICDC has greatly enhanced my ability to add value to these conversations, and in turn help guide the organisation’s strategic direction.

CT: Through my board role [Vice-Chair of e7 Promise of a Generation], I can now give back to the UAE and wider regional community, which has been my second home for the past thirteen years.

RJ: I am planning to provide short training to my fellow council members [at PNGHRI] and also some other boards in PNG. Also, as a lecturer, I will use this training to teach my students about directorship and governance, which I believe will contribute to improved corporate governance practices in Papua New Guinea.

How valuable were the connections you made? How did you find the networking experience?

KV: I was buoyed by the diversity of participants in my course, who had vast experience across the business, government and not-for-profit sectors. This variety of backgrounds gave rise to many stimulating discussions and affirmed that corporate governance, while undoubtedly essential to the corporate sector, is no longer the sole purview of C-Suite executives and the boards they report to.

CT: Each day the organisers rotated you to a different table with a diverse group of people. This was a great way to get to know the other participants especially through the case study discussions. In addition to the valuable connections I made, it was also an opportunity to spend five intensive days with a high-calibre cohort, and to collaborate and learn from such diverse and rich mix of board experience in the room. Some participants doing the course already sat on boards whilst others were aspiring directors.

RR: I enjoyed the diversity of organisations, skill levels and perspectives of the participants. I made some good connections, and it was interesting to learn of the challenges that existed in other organisations and what we could take from them to implement into our own organisations.

What’s next on your governance journey?

CT: To get comfortable knowing your appetite for risk and that future risks are key elements of strategy formulation.

RR: I’d like to graduate from the ICDC in the near future. In the meantime, I’d like to contribute to good sports governance in Fiji.

RJ: I am very keen to continuously learn and keep myself updated with the latest trends in governance. In addition, I am looking for directorship opportunities either in private or public sector organisations.