Grace Parsons-Hann ACG
Meet Grace Parsons-Hann as she tells us what its like to work as Head of Governance at KPMG UK
Grace describes herself as a keen fitness enthusiast who spends most days on her peloton bike or doing some sort of exercise. She’s someone who can't stand sitting still or doing nothing unless it's to watch true crime shows. She also owns two rescue ragdoll cats named Doris and Dexter.
Don't be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone because that's how we all learn.
A governance professional is a trusted advisor to some of the most senior individuals within a business.
What is Governance?
Governance to me means effective processes that operate to ensure the long-term success of an entity. Good governance supports effective and transparent decision making, financial sustainability, promotes accountability and safeguards the reputation of an organisation. It is essential for all organisations to have some form of governance, no matter what the size.
What is a governance professional?
A governance professional is akin to a strategic advisor for the Board on all governance related matters. They are not lawyers, but they demonstrate a similar skill set with their ability to analyse and interpret complex rules and regulations with a commercial mindset. They play a key role in connecting the dots between management and the Board and act as an impartial advisor to the Chair. It is a unique and trusted position where forming good working relationships is paramount to the success of the role.
Your route to a career in governance
I graduated with a law degree from the University of Gloucestershire. After completing a work placement at a local law firm in Cheltenham, I realised I didn't want to be a lawyer and have to specialise in a particular area. I spoke to my lecturer at the time who first mentioned the role of a Company Secretary which piqued my interest. After graduating, I successfully landed a training contract in London to complete the ICSA (now the Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme) with Deloitte.
The essential skills for success in governance
The most essential skill is a tricky question as I think there's more than one of them but if I had to pick just one, it would be the ability to form good working relationships. As the governance professional is a trusted advisor to some of the most senior individuals within a business, the ability to form those relationships (and not just form them but keep them) is absolutely critical.
That would have to be the time in a previous role I presented on a podium to the CFO and 50 of his financial controllers across EMEA on a technical restructuring programme. I hate presentations and public speaking, but it was well received, and I was very glad to have finished it!
How did the Institute support your career as a governance professional?
The institute have some absolutely fantastic networking events including the CGIUKI awards which are attended by governance professionals in every industry of varying degrees of size. Having a strong network is important and also made me realise just how small the governance field can be (everyone seems to know everyone or maybe that's just the power of good networking!).
Words of wisdom for the next generation of governance professionals?
I've learned that anything is possible for a governance professional. No matter what companies you've worked for, whether they are regulated, listed or private, the underlying skill sets required to make the role a success are the same. Don't be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone because that's how we all learn.
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