Get involved

Working together to develop new ideas

The Institute has a vibrant branch network! You will find CGI branches across the UK regions and, the Crown Dependencies, plus Ireland, the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Mauritius and Southern Asia.

Our branches are run by members and students from the local area, with support from the CGI team. The branches play an integral part of our value proposition by offering high-quality, local CPD events for members and students plus the opportunity to network with like-minded professionals. Branches also support our recruitment and wider reach strategies by being open to non-members too.  

Branches are always looking for new volunteers, either in formal roles such as Chair or Student Champion, or for ad hoc support such as with social media, or panellists and speakers to deliver events. 

The benefits of volunteering with your local branch will differ depending on where you are in your career but can include: the satisfaction of giving something back; an enhanced CV; an increased professional profile and network and meeting people if you are new to a geographical area. 

We asked two branch chairs about their motivation for volunteering and their experiences of it.  Mark Craig, Joint Chair of the South West Branch and Jane Okot P’Bitek Langoya, Uganda – East Africa Region, Branch Chair tell their stories below.

Name: Mark Craig FCG
Job title: Director, Vistra
Volunteer role: Joint Chair of the South West Branch

How long have you been a volunteer and in what capacity?              

I helped set up the Edinburgh ICSA ScotCo in the early 2000s, which we merged into the Edinburgh ICSA Network. It has now grown from strength to strength to become the CGI Scotland Branch today. 

I then helped set up the former ICSA Bristol and District Network in 2013, which merged into the wider South West Branch in 2020.

What originally motivated you to get involved?

I was new to Bristol after moving from Edinburgh and wanted to meet other Chartered/Company Secretaries for networking and opportunities.

What have been the benefits?

I have been able to learn more about my peers’ roles. I have been able to hone my presentation, coordination, logistics and chairing skills. I have gotten to know people personally who I have subsequently been working with.

What do you like most about volunteering?

Meeting new people! I love to work out what we have in common.

What is the biggest challenge of being a volunteer and how have you overcome it?

There is a constant pressure to have good quality content at our meetings. We need a strong reason for our members to want to attend every meeting. By reaching out to our network we have repeatedly found depths of knowledge and skills that we have been able to use, often for the benefit of the presenter, as well as the members.

What would you say to anyone who is considering volunteering?

Do it! (You can always change your mind later). You will learn new skills. You will increase your personal profile with your peers. You will get more from it than you put in.

What do you think the benefits of volunteering are for members and students early, mid and towards the end of their careers?                         

Early – You will learn new skills. 

Mid – You will increase your personal profile with your peers. 

End – You will be ‘giving back’ the benefits that you have received from a career of experience and passing the culture and ethos on to the new generation.

As a chair, how do you and your committee support new volunteers?

We have been developing ‘play books’ for how to do certain things, for example, how to promote a meeting, and have been getting our latest volunteers to help create, use and modify them to suit.

Name: Jane Okot P’Bitek Langoya FCG

Job title: Chartered Governance Professional

Volunteer role: Chair CGI: Uganda – East Africa Region

How long have you been a volunteer and in what capacity?

In CGI Uganda I have been a volunteer for eight years, two as committee member and six as chairperson.   

What originally motivated you to get involved?

I am passionate about corporate governance, and volunteering at the CGI Uganda – East Africa Region branch is fulfilling in this regard. I take this as my contribution towards the promotion of corporate governance in Uganda and the rest of East Africa.

What have been the benefits?

Volunteering has exposed me to participation as facilitator in corporate governance workshops, training of boards and senior management and I am one of the tutors on the Qualifying Programme. It was because I volunteered that it was noticed that I was a capable facilitator/consultant. This has led to both personal and professional development in the field of corporate governance especially because of the level of research required when I prepare presentations and also listening to and learning from participants.

What do you like most about volunteering?

I see the growth in the CGI Uganda, East Africa Region branch. We have an annual Directors and Company Conference, alongside the workshops. It is fulfilling, the impact that we are making, even as volunteers. The Branch is the ‘go to’ on issues related to corporate governance. The growing visibility and recognition of the branch is also a point of joy. The branch is also the first point of contact for the students and a vital link with head office for the students.

What is the biggest challenge of being a volunteer and how have you overcome it? 

The biggest challenge has been the difficulty in creating forums for the different categories of Members: Grad, Associates and Fellows to meet and network with each other. The objective is for us to know each other and to get conversations going on how we can improve the corporate governance space and indeed get more chartered company secretaries and governance professionals in Uganda, especially in the various organisations that have company secretaries who are not chartered.

We make specific activities in our work plan for each category of membership – a breakfast or dinner meeting with a guest speaker in the first thirty minutes of the event.

What would you say to anyone who is considering volunteering?

There is a sense of fulfilment when one gives of themselves in service. Furthermore, many professionals are noticed during the volunteer period and if good, may be recruited within an organisation or highly recommended when applying for a job. Organisations where one has worked as a volunteer can be added to your CV.

What do you think the benefits of volunteering are for members and students early, mid and towards the end of their careers?

For those that are seeking employment, many times the organisations in which they volunteer will offer them jobs when an opportunity arises. Volunteering in mid and towards the end of career exposes members to networks and gives them the platform to showcase their technical, social and professional skills. Should the member choose to be a consultant at the end of their career, their network and acquaintances created through volunteering may become invaluable.             

As a Chair, how do you and your committee support new volunteers? 

We support new volunteers, not only in our activities like the Directors and Company Secretaries Conference, but we also recommend volunteers to organisations where an opportunity exists and where such volunteer has notified us of their availability.

The viability of our branch network relies solely on volunteers coming forward. If you’re thinking about getting involved or would like to know more, please contact branchsupport@cgi.org.uk for a no obligation discussion. On behalf of our branches, we look forward to hearing from you.

Lesley Ward FCG, Branch Liaison and Mentoring Manager at The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland

Please note that this article was originally published in October 2021; Mark Craig has since stood down as a Branch Chair.

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