How to build your governance career

On 12 October, we had the pleasure of co-hosting with EY the Building Your Governance Career event. Aimed at recent graduates, new associates and those embarking on their careers in governance, this event offered insights into the essential steps for achieving success. This blog considers the key takeaways from each session.

Following an introduction from, James Menzies, Partner in Entity Compliance & Governance at EY, a panel discussion featuring Graham Lawrence FCG (Governance Consultant), Nick Ivory (Assistant Company Secretary at Haleon) and Yana Fowle (Company Secretarial Assistant at BP) began the day with a focus on governance career paths. The panel shared invaluable insights into the importance of embracing diverse backgrounds into the governance profession. They also emphasised that careers in governance are not always linear, highlighting the need to explore new opportunities and even consider learning skills from other roles through training. Recognising the value of both technical and soft skills is crucial for a successful transition, and mentors can play a vital role in this journey. For instance, you can use our competency framework to identify key areas for upskilling.

The second panel explored the significance of personal branding in career growth. The panellists, including Georgi Cockcroft (Senior Manager in Entity Compliance & Governance at EY), James Wickham (Senior Assistant Company Secretary at Aviva) and Anja Jamie Carter (Personal Brand Strategist at GCCO.uk), stressed the importance of authenticity and self-awareness within the governance sphere. They also emphasised the significance of how you present yourself, whether in-person or virtually, and the role this plays in building a professional reputation. In the closely interconnected governance community, networking and establishing a strong reputation are vital.

The event's third and fourth sessions shed light on two critical aspects of career development: resilience in governance and crafting a customised career path. Laura Higgins FCG (Founder of The Cosec Coach), Sarah Hollinsworth (Director and Chief of Staff at Barclays) and Alia Fazal (Head of Corporate Governance at BP) explained that resilience is a crucial trait for governance professionals, emphasising the need for effective coping mechanisms and maintaining a balanced perspective when dealing with challenging situations. Seeking support from both internal and external sources is essential. Building credibility within one's team and focusing on available options, rather than fixating on worst-case scenarios are equally important. Finally, maintaining a work-life balance is a key element for sustaining the energy required to be resilient.

Claire Robson (Head of Governance Legal and Compliance/Data Protection Officer at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity), Charlotte Maybury (Senior Assistant Company Secretary at Nationwide Building Society) and Henry Rymer (Recruitment Partner at The Core Partnership) discussed how to forge a customised career in governance that aligns with your talents and interests. Two key components they touched on during the session were how to write a standout CV tailored to the specific role and taking ownership of your professional development, rather than relying on others to promote your skills. They recommended accumulating diverse experiences across different sectors and organisations and analysing the career paths of successful individuals to gain valuable insights. At the senior level of a governance career, technical skills need to be complemented by soft skills such as pragmatism, emotional intelligence, influencing and negotiation.

The final panel of the day was dedicated to the evolving nature of the governance profession. Peter Swabey (Policy and Research Director at CGIUKI), Maria Kepa (Director of Corporate Governance at EY) and Valentina Dotto (Policy Adviser at CGIUKI) considered the rapidly changing corporate governance landscape in the UK. They discussed how the new governance regime emphasises the implementation of policies, not just reporting. This shift underscores the importance of governance professionals in enhancing their technical competencies, as these skills are pivotal for successful implementations. Given the sometimes daunting nature of reporting requirements, it is essential for professionals to set clear boundaries and proactively prepare their organisations for the changing landscape.

If you are in your early-career as a governance professional and you have ideas about what you would like to see included in our next event about building a career in governance, we want to hear from you – please get in touch.

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