The issue of education and training of company directors and governors is of growing importance and interest. It is an explicit requirement of the Stock Exchange’s Corporate Governance Code. Under the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, ministerial letters of appointment to new board members should undertake to provide them with support and training.
Alongside the growing emphasis on education and training of company directors and governors is increased emphasis on diversity in boardrooms. Following the banking crisis, where male testosterone was partly blamed for the governance failures, the Stock Exchange’s Corporate Governance Code added forceful material on the need for diverse boards, including gender and race. That Code advocates diversity as a means of avoiding “groupthink”, encouraging different approaches and experiences around boardroom tables. Under the State Code, due regard for diversity is required in making State boards appointments, with chairs and Government departments required to consider the benefits of diversity on boards, including gender diversity.
It was therefore appropriate that UCD Smurfit Executive Development, in association with the 30% Club, offers one scholarship per annum to a female student on the UCD postgraduate executive-education Diploma in Corporate Governance. The 30% Club was launched in January 2015 and has the objective of improving gender balance at all levels in Irish business, with a focus on gender balance on boards of directors and in senior executive leadership positions.
To date three scholars have completed/are completing the programme. The first recipient of a scholarship in 2015 was Stephanie Manahan, CEO of the not-for-profit charity, the Central Remedial Clinic. Stephanie was an ideal candidate for the scholarship, as she assumed her role following serious governance failures at CRC. She has done a magnificent job improving CRC governance and management, as examination of CRC’s annual reports (available on the CRC website) demonstrate.
The second recipient of a 30% Club scholarship was Katherine Licken. It was a hectic year for Katherine, as during her studies at UCD Smurfit School, she became Secretary General of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
Governance in the public sector has unique features. Katherine’s deep understanding of corporate governance, and her appreciation of the differences between corporate governance and public-sector governance, will be a much-needed asset to her in her role as secretary general.
The 2017 scholarship recipient, Niamh Duddy, is company secretary of the Irish branch of Investec Bank plc. Niamh brings a wealth of experience into the classroom, from arguably the most regulated sector of the economy, where appreciation of the importance of corporate governance is highest. Niamh’s learnings from the programme will help her to carry out her onerous governance role of company secretary.
We are very proud of our first three scholarship recipients, and of their range of backgrounds from not-for-profit, to Government department to private sector financial services. Each class comprises participants with a diverse range of expertise. Executive education involves learning from the lecturers on the programme, and even more valuable, peer-to-peer learning, from the depth and range of expertise in each class of senior, experienced executives.
We are looking forward to receiving applications for next year’s 30% Club scholarship and to welcoming the fourth scholarship recipient into the class of 2018/19. For further details click here
Michael MacCormac Professor of Management UCD Smurfit School
Academic Director, UCD Diploma in Corporate Governance
Brid Horan, one of the founders of 30% Club Ireland and Steering Committee member, in welcoming the 2018 scholarship programme said, "The 30% Club is delighted to partner with UCD Smurfit School in offering this scholarship to women each year since 2015, recognising the importance of encouraging women to invest in their career development. Executive education can be really effective in accelerating career progression, developing a broader range of skills and leadership potential and we are honoured to work with this prestigious partner."
Brid Horan is Chair ISAX (Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange) and Non-Executive Director Nephin Energy Ltd. Member of the Institute of Directors Ireland.