Owen Balmont ACG
Meet Owen Balmont as he tells us what its like to work as a Company Secretarial Assistant at Saga plc
Owen enjoys working in a fast-paced environment and getting involved in new and challenging projects. He began a career in environmental management before crossing over into governance, and for him, the ‘ESG’ area between these subjects is exciting and only becoming more important with time.
His areas of expertise include ESG, oversight of risk and compliance committees, data protection and market abuse compliance. Saga plc is a diverse group of companies, including entities specialising in both insurance and travel, which makes for an interesting variety in his work.
He is based in Southeast Kent, and at home, he enjoys spending time with his partner, dog and cat, working on his allotment and running, swimming and cycling.
My favourite thing about my job is the new challenges that arise every day. No day is ever boring!
Every day throws up different challenges, and the modern governance professional needs to flex to meet the demands that come with this.
What is Governance?
Governance can be difficult to define because it is such as ‘big’ subject. To me, governance is the system through which organisations are directed – it is all about making the right decisions and balancing stakeholder interests.
What is a governance professional?
A governance professional is an ethically minded person who works with directors and stakeholders alike to enable the best results for a company, its employees, customers and shareholders. Governance professionals need a range of skills, from the more technical know-how such as corporate filings and company law compliance, toward softer skills such as people relationships and knowing when to speak up.
The route to a career in governance
Like many in the profession, I took a round-about route into governance. I graduated from Cardiff University in 2016 and began a career in environmental management before moving into ESG and ultimately into a role within a governance team. From there, I began my studies with the Chartered Governance Institute (completed in 2021).
The essential skills for success in governance
I think the vital skill for a career in governance is flexibility. Every day throws up different challenges, and the modern governance professional needs to flex to meet the demands that come with this.
My career highlight to date was a successful capital raise completed in 2020, which strengthened my organisation’s balance sheet during the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was extremely demanding, requiring many late nights for myself and many others, but I learned a lot, and we achieved what we set out to do.
How did the Institute support your career as a governance professional?
The Institute’s qualification course provides an excellent gateway into a career in governance. The module syllabi are carefully tailored to the modern governance professional and give a fantastic grounding in many key areas of governance, including risk management, development and strategy and boardroom dynamics. The qualification route recognises that being a governance professional is not only about life in the boardroom but also broader factors, including legal know-how, accounting, and psychology.
Words of wisdom for the next generation of governance professionals?
My advice is to get involved in everything that you can. The profession is diverse and provides a lot of opportunities. Governance can be a fascinating area of work for those who are willing to get stuck in.
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