In the first of our series celebrating student awards winners, we speak to Laura Southern. Laura won our student award for obtaining a distinction, and the highest result amongst peers in the November 2021 exam session for the Company Compliance and Administration module. Meet Laura, who tells us the prize was a career highlight.
Laura is a student member of The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland with experience working in the company secretarial department for a large, regulated company. Having completed a Master’s degree in Corporate and Commercial Law, Laura is now training to be a qualified governance professional. Prior to this, she worked in private practice at a law firm in Scotland.
In July 2018, Laura moved in-house and currently works within the company secretariat of Northern Powergrid. The Northern Powergrid Group consists of the electricity distribution network operators for North East England, Yorkshire, and the North Lincolnshire area. Laura updates and takes care of statutory requirements, performing compliance management throughout the Northern Powergrid Group, including responsibility for the Group’s insurance arrangements.
A governance professional is the key to any organisation. They are a repository of company history and culture.
For a business to be successful, governance must be embedded and integrated into the culture of the company.
What is Governance?
Despite the misconception, governance is more than merely compliance. Governance is at the centre of any organisation; therefore, the governance professional is required to have engagement with every section of the business and take an active interest in all areas. For a business to be successful, governance must be embedded and integrated into the culture of the company, permeating through policies and procedures and in the people they employ. Governance, in a nutshell, is doing the right thing and not merely complying with the letter of the law; it incorporates ethics into business practices.
What is a governance professional?
A governance professional is the key to any organisation. They are a repository of company history and culture. They are often the only person in the company with an in-depth knowledge of how decisions have been made at the highest levels. They are required to be multifaceted with a combination of technical skills to ensure the statutory and regulatory obligations are met and softer skills to enable them to form strong relationships with the board of directors and stakeholders, both internally and externally.
The route to a career in governance
Laura started her legal education in 2012, studying for a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Dundee. After graduation, Laura continued on to study for a Master of Laws in Corporate and Commercial law with a focus on corporate governance. After working in private practice at a law firm for a year, Laura returned to England to join the legal department at Northern Powergrid. Despite knowing she did not want to continue down the traditional legal route of becoming a solicitor or barrister, she was keen to use her legal background. Her role at Northern Powergrid provided extensive experience working in a highly regulated environment. She became increasingly involved in company compliance and regulation by working closely with the Company Secretary.
Laura completed her Master’s degree with a distinction; this gave Laura the confidence to undertake the Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme and provided a solid foundation for the level of study required. Laura completed the first exam in November 2021 and achieved a distinction grade whilst working full time in a demanding role.
How did the Institute support your
career as a governance professional?
Through sitting the exams for The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland, Laura has shown evidence of her knowledge and her commitment to the profession. Laura is a keen reader of the monthly Governance and Compliance magazine, which provides many recent examples and hot topics that can be directly applied in the exams. Laura also regularly attends the Institute’s online conferences and webinars.
Laura Southern works in the company secretarial department at Northern Powergrid.
Become a Chartered Secretary or Chartered Governance Professional. Our Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme is for governance professionals, company secretaries, and individuals from law or finance transferring to governance roles. Find out more here.
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