ICSA CEO, on the misleading mildness of company secretaries and the fatal flaws that led to the disintegration of Railtrack.

Simon Osborne knows what it’s like to be caught in the eye of the storm: he was company secretary at Railtrack, the group that owned all the British railway stations, tracks and signalling until the business went so spectacularly bust in 2002.

Osborne learned much from the experience, mainly never to be afraid to speak the truth to power, and never to back down when confronted by bullies. “With regard to the former, it is important to emphasise that one is dealing with people; and that those with bigger egos need therefore to be handled with care. “As the proverb goes, it is the mild answer that turns away rage. Company secretaries are good at that; mildness is a quality that requires underlying steeliness.” Read more...

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