Governance North

Creating a sustainable future


Thursday 30 April 2020


Hilton Leeds City
Neville Street
Leeds LS1 4BX

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More than ever before, the work of governance professionals is taking place against a backdrop of fast change, innovation and insecurity. Not only do they have to deal with the challenges and tensions that come from operating in the boardroom, they also increasingly face some very significant, and often unexpected challenges.

Increasingly, boards are having to get to grips with issues that lie beyond traditional regulation and compliance – issues such as cyber security and data breach, modern slavery and supply chains, environmental and social governance, and the changing demands and expectations of customers and employees alike. These are very high-profile, complex issues and addressing them requires some cutting-edge thinking – boards cannot simply ignore them.

Join us at Governance North, a one-day conference in Leeds to discuss how organisations can create a sustainable future and ensure that their governance is fit for the 21st century.



Registration, tea and coffee


Welcome and introduction

Peter Swabey, Policy & Research Director, The Chartered Governance Institute


Keynote: Forward with purpose

The idea that profit and purpose are mutually exclusive has been challenged in recent years as the public, stakeholders and regulators alike look for greater transparency about organisations’ social and environmental impact. This is borne out by studies which show that embracing a higher purpose is indeed a good thing. Our panellists discuss how and why organisations with a strong purpose outperform those that don’t.

Keynote Speaker:

Fiona Robertson, Senior Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University, Member of The Good Governance Academy


Trust me, I’m listed: Restoring purpose in corporate reporting

For many companies, reporting is viewed solely as a statutory exercise, a complex bit of coordination that draws on multiple teams to get the final report across the finishing line. In this session, we go back to first principles and explore some of the big questions around what reporting is really for, and how companies can produce informative, authentic and effective reports which engender trust with their stakeholders, and make employees feel proud of their company. 


Peter Swabey, Policy & Research Director, The Chartered Governance Institute


Claire Bodanis, Founder and Director, Falcon Windsor




Networking break


STREAM 1: The company secretary forward and beyond

Do you consider yourself to be a pioneer, always moving forward, implementing new ways of working, finding innovative solutions to familiar problems and adapting quickly to new situations? Or would you like to become one?  In this session, our panellists ask: what does it mean to be a company secretary and a pioneer? How is the secretarial role evolving in the 21st century? And what skills and aptitudes are secretaries developing to undertake that role?


Liam Healy, SVP & Managing Director, Diligent


Susanna Pridmore Associate Director of Corporate Governance 
David Whincup Deputy Company Secretary, Provident Financial Group

STREAM 2: Workshop: Improving employee engagement

Government enthusiasm for having employee representatives on boards may have ended as quickly as it began, but recognition is growing that there is value in recognising employee interests – and that’s reflected not least in the latest iteration of the Corporate Governance Code. In this session, speakers explore how organisations can make their employees’ voice a key part of their governance best practice and consider strategies for effective employee engagement.

Workshop leader: Theodore Spyrou, Ashridge Associates


Panel: Facing up to ESG

In September 2019, millions of people around the world came out in mass protest, calling for urgent action on climate change. Along with the rising public awareness of modern slavery, it was the surest sign, if any were needed, that environmental and social governance concerns have raced to the top of the agenda for governments, individuals and organisations alike.

So how can organisations realise the importance of placing ESG at the heart of what they do?  How can governance professionals assist that and implement section 172 specifications such as how to predict the consequences of any decision in the long term run?

Moderator: TBC


Sam Plant Company Secretary, Pz Cussons
Alexander Simpson, Legal Director, Amazon


Networking lunch


Building a cybersecurity culture: current trends and practical guidance

Recent years have been record breakers when it comes to the number of organisations experiencing data breaches. It’s a massive problem, and one which demonstrates the urgency with which organisations generally – and their boards, in particular – need to make cybersecurity a priority. In this session, we explore the importance of cultivating a culture of cybersecurity and data protection, and offer some guidelines on how to raise awareness in the boardroom.


John Noble, Non-Executive Director, NHS Digital




STREAM 1: Influencing in the boardroom

Experienced governance professionals are often called upon to play the part of trusted advisor, providing expert insight and constructively challenging and supporting the board. Their insights can be invaluable in creating an effective governance culture. But what about when toxic behaviours poison group dynamics in the boardroom? This practical and interactive session explores the critical role governance professionals can play in managing tensions at the top.

Anna Bateson FCG, Founder, Cutting through the grey

STREAM 2: Succession planning: The board’s role in nurturing talent

Recruiting new board members from outside an organisations is a good way to bring fresh perspectives onto the board, but it often means a lengthy process of search and induction, followed by a period of orientation and settling-in. In this session, we find out how organisations are investing in internal development programmes to nurture talent and create their own viable pipeline to the boardroom.

Speaker: TBC


STREAM 1: Workshop: Harnessing creativity and diversity of thought: personal introspective session

More than ever, organisations are aware of the value of diversity in the workplace, and are investing time and resources into recruiting from a wider range of social or organisational backgrounds. But what about cognitive diversity? How do you build a team of people who genuinely think differently? In this session, we explore how organisations can build and empower truly diverse teams and set up the conditions in which they can thrive. 

Speaker: TBC

STREAM 2: Panel: Ensuring an ethical chain supply

The 2015 Modern Slavery Act was instrumental in highlighting the issue of forced labour around the world and the role that organisations need to play in ensuring goods and services are free of exploitation. But with modern supply chains so complex, how can organisations ensure they are robust, stable and ethical? How do they manage those extended relationships? And do boards give them the attention they deserve?

Moderator: TBC


Catherine Thomas, Company Secretary,Travelodge




Crisis management

All organisations will face a crisis at some point in their life. Ensuring management is ready to handle a crisis is an important part of the board’s risk oversight role, and directors may find themselves taking an active role if the situation spins out of control. Good governance means knowing where your weaknesses are before a crisis hits, and having crisis management planning firmly in place. So, is your board prepared?

Speaker: TBC




Closing remarks from Chair

*This is a draft programme and may be subject to change


Dr Fiona Robertson PhD, MA, CA, PGCAP FHEA, BA

Fiona currently works as a senior lecturer in accounting and finance at Leeds Beckett University. She is also an associate director of The Centre for Governance, Leadership and Global Responsibility where her research interests include Integrated Thinking and Reporting. She passionately believes that the focus of corporate leaders should be in the best interests of the long-term health of an organisation, which requires the recognition that the three dimensions of sustainable development, the economy, society, and the environment, are indivisible and integrated.

She is currently lead researcher on two funded research projects. The first project involves creating innovative solutions for sustainability in higher education and the second project aims to provide practical tools for implementing Integrated Thinking and Reporting in SMEs. She chairs an Integrated Reporting Group at Leeds Beckett University made up of practitioners and academics, who meet quarterly to promote and develop Integrated Thinking and Reporting.

She completed a PhD in Integrated Reporting in 2016, where she conducted 36 interviews with leading executive in seventeen FTSE 100 companies on their perceptions and experiences of Integrated Reporting. She has published several articles based on her research in leading academic journals and practitioner magazines and has presented her research findings at leading conferences.

She has previously worked for 25 years in senior finance roles in industry, with particular expertise in compliance, internal audit and project management. Fiona qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1988 and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) Corporate & Financial Reporting Panel which represents ICAS in relation to financial reporting and broader corporate reporting issues and undertakes proactive initiatives to contribute to the debate on how reporting could improve into the future, to better meet the needs of stakeholders.


one trust logo

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Booking information 


Thursday 30 April 2020


Hilton Leeds City
Neville Street
Leeds LS1 4BX


Attendee Category

General Admission 

(22 February 2020 - 29 April 2020)

Early Bird 

(12 December 2019 - 21 February 2020)

Non-member £340 £270
Professional subscriber £295 £235
Member £250 £200
Student £90 £70

All prices listed above do not include VAT.

Book now


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