As part of The Chartered Governance Institute's 'in their shoes' series, they sat down with Urvasi Naidoo, FCG, who works as Compliance and Contracts Manager for the CGF.
How would you describe your role as a company secretary?
My role is very varied. Anything legal, governance or compliance might land on my desk. I look after the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Governance and Integrity Committee. This is the Board Committee which has responsibility for establishing and maintaining best practice standards of corporate governance and ensuring the integrity of the CGF. The big thing this year has been the CGF General Assembly where 72 Commonwealth nations and territories were in attendance, online, due to COVID-19. I also provide support to the Audit and Risk Committee and am responsible for the CGF Group company filings.
This has been an interesting year for us all. How have you adapted in your role as company secretary?
As an international organisation some of the team were already worked remotely in different countries, so all of us working from home was relatively easy to manage. Since March 2020, I have only been into the office for the CGF General Assembly.
The board meetings and all committee meetings are virtual. The General Assembly was also virtual by virtue of the temporary provisions in the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (Coronavirus) (Extension of the Relevant Period) Regulations 2020 and the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020. We decided to amend the Articles to allow for virtual meetings in the future and that special resolution was thankfully passed. Our President was in Scotland, Our Legal Adviser and Chair of the CGF Governance and Integrity Committee was in Barbados and six of the staff team were in London. It was amazing that it went so smoothly.
Would you say there’s a typical day in the life of a company secretary?
In every job I have worked in I can honestly say no two days are the same and that suits me just fine. I like challenges and I like to be busy. I like the variety that my work provides and of course working in the sports sector some days are just fun and fuel my passion. We have already started planning for our General Assembly 2021 and we are really hopeful that will be in person rather than virtual. The next Commonwealth Games will be in Birmingham in 2022 we still have much to do in terms of policy and process development to prepare for that.
What is the biggest challenge facing the profession?
Post COVID-19 it has to be resource – it is rare for both executive and non-executive to be strategically aligned to properly resource and prioritise the governance function. Now in these extraordinary times budgets are being squeezed and all businesses are having to re-examine their priorities. In this time of crisis it is essential to recognise that good governance is very much pivotal to organisational success post-COVID-19.
Do you have any thoughts regarding what those coming into the profession should know?
In terms of career advice use every resource available, The Chartered Governance Institute webinars, magazine, free courses etc invest in your own education and training and expand your network because you can learn a lot from other sectors and other professionals.
Work hard to foster a great working relationship with your CEO and your board chair or committee chair. Open and honest communication and a sense of humour help.
To find out more about a career in governance, check out the events and programmes available on The Chartered Governance Institute's employer profile.