ICSA Scotland Conference

The 5th ICSA Scotland Conference was held in Edinburgh on 10 June this year. Our aim is always to focus the theme of our conference on topics of relevance to company secretaries in the wider business community. This year we chose Risk and Culture.

Our first speaker, Tim Copnell, founder of KPMG’s UK Audit Committee Institute opened the event with a message on the importance for good management of the audit process. He spoke about managing audit tendering and ensuring that accurate and complete disclosure of risks affecting the company is made in the annual report. He also looked at issues and concerns affecting the audit committee, from its core responsibilities through to suggestions for improving effectiveness.

Our next speaker brought an interactive element to the conference – a first for our members in Scotland. Sharon Constancon, CEO of Genius Methods, set a case study involving a fractured board of directors, a demanding chairman and an incompetent CEO, with a view to looking at the culture of boards. Delegates were asked to consider what each of these individuals would do in the circumstances of the case study. Definitely a thought-provoking exercise, so much so that, despite announcing a break for coffee, teams continued to discuss the case. A very effective session that definitely gave delegates things to think about in the context of their own organisations.

Conference sponsors and exhibitors were all on hand to discuss their products and services during the coffee break, with many delegates taking advantage of the expertise on hand.

Rob McGregor, a member of PwC’s Cyber Threat Detection & Response team, started the second half of the conference with a down to earth presentation of cyber threats facing organisations. He talked delegates through four stages, from identifying the threat landscape, to the procedures existing for incident response, the emerging threats companies are facing in today’s cyber climate, and finally identifying practical defence tactics which should be employed by organisations. A very enlightening look at a very real threat in today business environment.

In larger organisations, the group secretariat will inevitably deal with a number of entities on behalf of their parent company. Lysanne Black, Head of Secretariat; Governance and Subsidiaries, Lloyds Banking Group provided us with insight into subsidiary governance, covering best practice for managing the obligations of subsidiaries and their boards, adopting best practice from the UK Corporate Governance Code and regulatory obligations of their parent entity.

The final presentation was from keynote speaker Peter Montagnon, Associate Director, Institute of Business Ethics, who considered the values adopted by boards in the modern business environment. Peter’s experiences of culture and values in differing organisations provided exceptional perception into how culture has changed over the years, and how important it is to acknowledge and identify the values held by organisations.

A post conference lunch allowed members to reflect on the discussions and presentations of the morning, with initial feedback being extremely positive. The 2015 conference has built on the successes of those held in previous years, and demonstrates that in the ever changing business environment, there is a need and a desire for company secretaries to explore and keep abreast of areas affecting their day-to-day tasks.

Gary Gray, Chair of the ICSA Scottish Network, heads up the company secretarial team of Burness Paull LLP, one of Scotland’s premier law firms. A Fellow of ICSA since 2007, and a member since 1999, he has extensive experience in providing company secretarial services in a legal services environment, to all types of corporate bodies in a broad spectrum of sectors. Gary continues to pursue, along with his Scottish Network committee, opportunities to provide training, seminars and updates to ICSA members, students and affiliates across Scotland.

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