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Supporting students

01 November 2018 by Amber Tighe and James Wickham

Supporting students

The ICSA UK Student Forum has been set up to provide feedback and help ICSA enhance its student experience

ICSA is currently experiencing a significant period of change and a key part of this is the substantial developments in the student offering, such as the introduction of the revamped ICSA qualifying programme. Recruiting more students, improving the student experience and supporting student success have been identified as core goals for ICSA over the next three years.

Various initiatives have already been introduced to achieve these goals, notably a new syllabus and the opening of a foundation programme for the qualifying scheme, the pilot of an e-learning service and the extension of the MSc Corporate Governance programme to two further universities, which have been met with great success.

Forming the forum

In addition to these developments, the ICSA UK Student Forum was launched in September 2017. The purpose of the Forum is to facilitate a formal and constructive relationship between the ICSA and the student body in the UK, providing feedback on the UK student experience and acting as a sounding board to the learning team about how ICSA can enhance what it offers.

In November 2017, after many applications and careful consideration, nine student members were selected to form the Forum alongside ex-officio ICSA representatives.

The Forum membership ranges in age, ethnicity, gender, location and qualification route, representing a broad cross-section of the student body.

Since formation, the Forum has met twice at the ICSA headquarters in London, in December 2017 and July 2018. The most important student issues were highlighted and discussed at each meeting, resulting in many new ideas and initiatives.

Feedback and support

The Forum provided valuable feedback to the exams operational process, in terms of arrangements and exam centre issues at its meeting in December. ICSA took this feedback onboard and made the decision to change the exam venue to London Metropolitan University. This has proved to be a popular move, with many students sharing positive experiences, which were fed back to ICSA at the Forum meeting in July.

In July 2018, the Forum was invited to join the ICSA branch chairs summit, which was a great opportunity for the Forum chair to meet with ICSA’s branch chairs and contribute to the conversation around increasing membership and connecting with students across the UK. Some student members can feel disconnected from chartered members, but closer working relationships and collaborative events with local branches have been identified as a great way to ensure that students feel welcomed and engaged within their local branch. As a result of this session and discussions with the ICSA on providing relevant events and content to students, the ICSA Yorkshire Branch held a student revision seminar on 25 October 2018, which was a great success.

Forum members

Amber Tighe (Chair) Company secretarial manager, World Remit

James Wickham (Vice-Chair) Company secretarial assistant, British American Tobacco

Stephanie Boyce Director, Stephanie Boyce Consulting Limited

Samira Chambas Company secretarial assistant, Aviva

Arun Hothi Corporate secretary, Deutsche Bank

Bhavini Kundaiker Assistant company secretary, AngloGold Ashanti

Joe McManus Senior corporate secretarial consultant, EY

Charlotte Mepham Company secretarial assistant, Indivior

Stuart Riddick Senior company secretarial assistant, Royal Horticultural Society

At this year’s ICSA Annual Conference, the Forum held the first exclusively student-focused session where the purpose and goals of the Forum was set out and input was sought from the student members who attended. The session received a fantastic turnout and a great response from student members who presented useful and insightful ideas.

In a further attempt to support the student community, the Forum is organising a series of informative and networking events exclusively for student members. The first event was held at Saffron House in London on 10 October 2018 and addressed what it takes to become a chartered secretary. The attendees heard from Forum members, a newly-qualified chartered secretary, a senior governance consultant and a specialist recruiter. The evening not only offered expert advice and insight but also gave student members the opportunity to meet other governance professionals and build their professional network. The event received a large turnout and attendees gave very positive feedback.

Raising awareness

Following the success of the session at the ICSA Annual Conference it is anticipated that there will be another interactive session in 2019, with many more student member events also being held throughout the year.

In June 2019, the new syllabus for the qualifying scheme will be introduced, with the first examinations in November 2019. The Forum will be working closely with the ICSA to provide advice and feedback throughout the implementation period to ensure a smooth transition and on-going support for students.

There is still a lack of awareness of a career as a chartered secretary, with many people entering the profession by chance as opposed to it being a deliberate choice. The international Institute’s recently approved name change and plan to take advantage of the focus on good governance will hopefully begin to increase recognition of the Institute and the profession.

Now in its fourth year, ICSA runs a university outreach programme attending business and law faculties across the country and the Forum is working with the programme to provide student member attendance at careers fairs. Giving students the opportunity to hear first-hand from those who have been in their position will be extremely beneficial and will hopefully drive an increase in student membership and allow others to engage in this dynamic and exciting career.

With social media now very important within the professional environment, the Forum is looking to help the ICSA improve its social media offering. Specifically, the Forum intends to develop the ICSA Student Group on LinkedIn, comprising regular and relevant content for students and providing information and communication within the student community. This will require collaboration and input from many ICSA students and we hope to establish a strong community feeling in the LinkedIn group.

Get in touch, get involved

The ICSA Student Forum gives student members the opportunity to get involved and strengthen the student voice. Please take advantage of this and attend a student event, meet your peers and develop your profile. You can also get in touch by contacting us at studentforum@icsa.org.uk

Amber Tighe is chair and James Wickham is vice-chair of the ICSA UK student forum

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