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International company secretaries qualify with ICSA

15 May 2015

International company secretaries qualify with ICSA - read more

The first law graduates in Poland to undertake CSQS achieve excellence

In 2013 Capita set up a company secretarial team in Poland based on the concept of ‘nearshoring’, as opposed to ‘offshoring’. As Krakow is relatively close to the UK, with a time difference of only one hour, UK business hours can be mirrored, which delivers a cost effective service for UK clients.

Building on the existing infrastructure of the Capita Poland office, a company secretarial centre in Krakow was established with the help of ICSA’s Chartered Secretary Qualifying Scheme (CSQS). The city’s large population of law graduates provides a pool of expertise from which to recruit – Capita now has a team of 10 post graduates all studying towards the ICSA qualification.

Previously, the occupation of chartered secretary was not a distinct professional pathway in Poland – the Capita team are the first cohort of Poland-based ICSA students pursuing CSQS. Attaining chartered status brings the Polish team in line with the qualified level that is held across the wider Capita company secretarial team. Having this chartered status gives the team a chance to pursue a law-based career without going down the traditionally popular path of becoming a lawyer. UK Company Law courses are available in Poland and this allows the team the opportunity to put this learning into practice.

Embarking on the UK-centric ICSA course presents challenges for all international students studying in a second language. Capita has partnered with the British Council to enable the Polish students to take the ICSA exams in a special exam centre in Krakow. Currently the team utilise self study and distance learning for each of the exams. With growing interest in the ICSA qualification in Poland however, it is hoped local classroom-based study options will become available.

The team is progressing well with the ICSA qualifying scheme and we are proud that Anna Sikora (see second case study) obtained the J F Clark prize for the Best Paper in Corporate Law. Typically, trainees take two to three years to complete the qualification, during which time they are gaining valuable real world experience delivering governance and compliance services to a wide range of clients.

To further develop its team and provide a rounded experience when studying, Capita offers UK secondments to members of the Krakow team. It currently has a member of the Krakow team based in the London office for a period of nine months, giving her significant boardroom exposure while allowing her to continue with her ICSA qualification in the UK.

Case Studies

Aleksandra Nowak, Senior Assistant Consultant

I am a law graduate and a senior assistant consultant within the Capita company secretarial team in Poland. I joined the team two years ago and since then I have been studying CSQS to achieve chartered status and become a full member of ICSA.

My learning technique is a mixture of self study and distance learning via Campbell’s College, one of ICSA’s registered tuition providers. As an ICSA student, I use the free study support available on the official website, such as access to past papers, suggested answers and other study materials, and have attended free exam techniques webinars.

CSQS has helped me with my day-to-day responsibilities, which involve providing UK statutory and regulatory compliance support to UK entities, including publicly listed companies. The Corporate Secretarial Practice exam particularly enhanced my knowledge of the role of the chartered secretary in promoting and reinforcing good governance across organisations through compliance with statutory obligations. This module also helped me to better understand the listing regime and highlighted the importance of the proper maintenance of company statutory registers.

Successful completion of the first four modules (level one) allowed me to gain the part-qualified status and the Professional Diploma in Governance certificate.

Anna Sikora is Assistant Consultant

I am an assistant consultant in the Poland team in Krakow. I graduated from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan with a masters degree in law. I have also spent a year in Hungary at the University of Szeged.

I joined Capita in 2012 and in May 2013 I started working in the company secretarial team. I am currently in the process of studying CSQS. I have completed the first four modules and now I am partly qualified. Currently I am studying for two exams from the second level – Corporate Secretarial Practice and Strategy in Practice.

So far I have found Financial Reporting and Analysis the most difficult module. I have a law background and studying a financial module in a foreign language was challenging. The Corporate Governance module provided me with an understanding of the legal framework governing organisations with particular focus on the listed company. This knowledge directly lined with my work on a FTSE 100 company.

Currently I attend a monthly board meeting via teleconference from Krakow. I have found very useful tips in relation to the preparation of documentation for and after the meeting in the Corporate Secretarial Practice study text, especially in relation to board minutes and agenda setting.

It is gratifying that even though I found it difficult to study in a foreign language, I received the J F Clark prize for the Best Paper in Corporate Law at the June 2014 exam session.

For more information about the ICSA Chartered Secretary Qualifying Scheme, visit www.icsa.org.uk/qualifications-and-careers/study/csqs. You can find out more about other ICSA courses at www.icsa.org.uk/qualifications-and-careers.

Kornelia Masiuk is Assistant Consultant and Jim Lafferty is Service Delivery Manager at Capita Asset Services

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