Umsilla Moodley, GradCG
Umsilla Moodley is a recently qualified company secretary with a law background (LLM and LPC) obtained in the UK and B.Sc (Mathematics and Chemistry) obtained in South Africa. Umsilla has worked in both private and public sectors and currently works as Assistant Company Secretary at NCP Limited (whose parent company is listed in Japan). Her previous roles included working in FTSE listed companies, as well as senior and varied roles with the NHS.
What is governance?
Umsilla defines governance as the rules, processes and controls that allow companies to achieve their objectives and set the culture to build/maintain a sustainable future while respecting all stakeholders' needs and the environment. It has often been described as the ‘conscience’ of a company and even covers important global issues like sustainability, social impact, modern slavery, anti-bribery – to name a few.
Advice for anyone starting out in governance is to be open to different opportunities and challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone.
This role is almost a ‘conduit’ in a company, linking the board to the rest of the organisation, and the role also provides a helicopter view of the organisation.
What is a governance professional?
For Umsilla, a governance professional or company secretary is an impartial officer of a company who ensures the company operates within rules and processes in making its decisions and who is likely to liaise with most departments within the company.
This role is almost a ‘conduit’ in a company, linking the board to the rest of the organisation, and the role also provides a helicopter view of the organisation. The position often requires one to wear many hats, not just typical company secretarial matters, and to have/develop a range of knowledge on very different topics, e.g. legal, finance/accounts, sustainability.
The route to a career in governance
With a strong background in law, Umsilla gained a wide range of experience in governance, legal and risk in the NHS, where great emphasis is placed on processes and regulation and accountability to the public, government and a wide range of stakeholders. She also had a contract role with the then Financial Services Authority (regulator), which was a great development experience.
While working with a Director of Governance in the NHS, she began exploring the idea of further pursuing a career and qualification in governance and utilising her legal qualifications and skills. She was determined to progress the company secretarial qualification and began by self-funding and self-studying for her first few modules.
She was grateful to the AWCS and the specialist company secretarial agency who encouraged her to be open to different options. She subsequently succeeded in obtaining a role in the commercial sector with HSS (a listed company) where she covered all aspects of company secretarial work, advised on legal commercial contracts, processed insurance claims and even project managed the company’s insurance renewal process.
Having pursued a career change into the commercial/listed environment, she was lucky to have very varied and interesting company secretarial roles working with some supportive and inspiring teams.
The essential skill for success in governance
In Umsilla’s view, being able to adapt to various changes a company undergoes -which a company secretary is often asked to be involved in or to lead on – is the essential skill for success in governance.
Despite only recently qualifying as a company secretary, Umsilla’s career highlight thus far is being flown first class to Dubai to meet some of the team and undertake training. Not only was it a fantastic way to experience first-hand a different culture and way of working, for Umsilla, it also highlighted how similar we all are.
How did the Institute support your career as a governance professional?
Umsilla highlighted the invaluable advice and support on how to approach challenges and the excellent networking events (in which she could meet peers and share experiences) as the main ways in which she has been supported by the Institute. When initially exploring the qualification, The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland were quite helpful in providing guidance and dispelling any uncertainties she may have had about jobs or the course. The advice on which modules to pursue at different stages of the qualification was also important to Umsilla.
Words of wisdom for your governance career
Similar to many other roles, Umsilla’s advice for anyone starting out in governance is to be open to different opportunities and challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone. It is challenging for everyone working a full-time job and fitting in the studies, as well as other commitments, but her parents’ motto is always: ‘Failure is a stepping stone to success, so don’t give up’, which has proved true with time. She notes that how you react and motivate yourself to overcome the challenges will be a great way to learn and develop – in your career and personally.
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