Boglarka was born in Hungary and had always had an interest in environmental sciences and engineering. She studied engineering at university, both in Hungary and Greece. Her route into governance has been a non-linear one, as the role of the governance professional is not as prominent in Hungary.
From not knowing much about the role nearly six years ago, Boglarka has published several articles on governance internationally and is now an Assistant Company Secretary for Aveva. In her role, she uses her experience from within large, listed companies in a regulated environment to deal with the procedures and requirements that global entity management requires. She also needs an understanding of UK, European and US regulatory and legislation, and corporate governance obligations, so that she can assist in projects and transactions, RNS announcements and the annual reporting process. Not yet finished with her further education, she is in the process of applying for a PhD in an ESG related topic.
Governance is everywhere throughout an organisation; it includes all of the processes of interaction as well as the policies and laws within the business.
Having an interest and education in environmental science has come in handy on a number of occasions when issues around ESG arise in board meetings, shareholder value creation, implementing relevant policies and day-to-day tasks because there is a foundation of knowledge that not everyone else has.
What is Governance?
Governance is everywhere throughout an organisation; it includes all of the processes of interaction as well as the policies and laws within the business. It affects the people directly and informs the administration of the organisation. Corporate governance also includes the relationship between the stakeholders and the organisation.
It can be difficult to explain to someone who isn't in the profession, but effectively governance covers the legal administration, transactions, and relationships with the executive members of the company. It covers everything related to the business and the external environment of the business.
What is a governance professional?
In Boglarka’s experience, the role of the governance professional isn’t always clear - everyone has a general understanding of what the legal team or the data protection officer do, but they don’t always know or fully understand what the company secretary does.
The company secretary is the heart of the company. Listed companies are required to have a qualified company secretary who attends the board meetings, oversees governance and deals with the administrative tasks, prepares the annual report, and depending on the company, their role can touch on health and safety, risk management and entity management. The role is varied, so they may even work with the investor relations team and the legal or compliance team. The variety and importance of tasks make it a significant role within the business.
The route to a career in governance
Boglarka’s passion lies within environmental science, and when choosing her route of study, this was a big part of the decision. Completing a bachelor’s degree and specialising in environmental science, she continued her studies with a master’s in environmental engineering - a company secretary was not something she set out to become.
Her first job as a governance professional was with a listed company, and her foray into governance began when the Company Secretary there asked her to get involved in some of their day-to-day tasks. She was a part of the team who executed the share buyback listing because the company was dual-listed, and she found it incredibly interesting – the governance bug had bitten her.
As someone who believes we should never stop learning, Boglarka was directed to the Institute by the Company Secretary she was supporting. The company assisted her with study time as she completed the accredited Corporate Governance Masters at London Southbank University. Throughout her dissertation, Boglarka conducted research on Modern Slavery and governance-related issues – several of which have been published with CGIUKI and other publishers in the last few years.
Without knowing this would be the case, Boglarka’s interest and education in environmental science have come in handy on a number of occasions when issues around ESG arise in board meetings, shareholder value creation, implementing relevant policies and in her day-to-day tasks because she has a foundation of knowledge that not everyone else does.
The essential skills for success in governance
Boglarka believes that the analytical skills she learned in her engineering degree (through chemistry, maths and physics) have been paramount to understanding everything numbers based. A good company secretary needs to understand numbers as projects like the annual report and dealing with the finance team means you need to have numeracy and analytical skills.
People skills are also essential to the role of the company secretary. Being a company secretary is like working for an airline as a cabin crew; every day, you will meet and support different people from different cultures, backgrounds, and levels. You will have to deal with shareholders, investors, board members, colleagues; the list is never-ending – you are a fountain of knowledge, and you need to be able to communicate that knowledge at a moment’s notice. Knowing how to communicate information is important as well, be it by showing compassion, authority or holding your cards close to your chest; the way you communicate will change how well you are able to do your job.
Having technical knowledge and knowing how to implement it practically is a skill that not everyone has, and if it doesn’t come naturally, Boglarka recommends the qualification and good mentors will help a lot as this will help you in situations where you need to convey difficult or complex pieces of information.
For Boglarka, her first career highlight was completing her Masters in Corporate Governance; this was the foundation for her career. She will always be proud that this has enabled a career to continue working within listed companies.
Having a passion for something and being recognised for it are two different things, so having her work published by an international body (CGIUKI) and other international publishers on the topics of ESG and Modern Slavery has been a feather in her cap.
In a year of uncertainty, Boglarka was ecstatic to find herself as the Winner of the Social Impact Category of the Governance Hot 100 in 2021.
How did the Institute support your career as a governance professional?
From her early introduction to the Institute through another governance professional, it has been a part of her developing career, from the accredited masters to the publication of her articles on ESG and Modern Slavery, Boglarka has felt close to the Institute.
The Institute also supports her continued professional development and network building as she attends events and conferences regularly. She loves the opportunities provided by networking events as a great way to mingle with people from the industry and provide chances to learn something new. The Institute also offers great training courses and learning opportunities through the articles, and they post useful information on the website and social media. Boglarka also gets her monthly updates as a reader of Governance and Compliance magazine.
Words of wisdom for the next generation of governance professionals?
1. Good governance with good intentions is key for the future.
2. Never stop learning and reading; the higher you go up the career ladder, the better understanding of governance and strategy is needed.
3. Every profession is challenging, but it is how you approach it and master it that matters. Be strong, continue to be your number one supporter, have a goal, and never give up!