25 July 2017 by Frank Curtiss
Frank Curtiss, outgoing ICSA President, thanks those who made the Institute what it is today.
It has been my privilege to serve as UKRIAT President from 2015 to 2017 and by the time you read this, John Heaton will be preparing to succeed me and I will join the ranks of Past Presidents.
It has certainly been an eventful two years, with many significant developments which are not so much my own achievements but those of my predecessors as President, the other Honorary Officers, Simon Osborne, the hard working team at Saffron House, the UKRIAT Committee, branch chairs and committees, and you as members who have worked long and hard to make the Institute what it is today.
I am incredibly grateful for the warm welcome and support I have received throughout my time in office from you all in the ICSA community.
My first day in office on 1 August 2015 was marked by the sad duty to attend the funeral of John Hardy, a distinguished former President in the 1980s, who had died the previous month. It is very much the President’s role to look backwards as well as forwards and to pay tribute to the achievements of his or her predecessors.
The President is first among equals amid the Honorary Officers, and is the equivalent of a non-executive chairman in regular contact with the CEO. This important chain of accountability means that the President, who usually has a day job elsewhere, will be at Saffron House one or two days a week.
I retired from my day job as Head of Corporate Governance at the Railway Pension Fund in April 2016 after nearly 26 years. This allowed me to spend more time on ICSA business at a hectic time in the Institute’s history.
Last year, we celebrated the Institute’s 125th anniversary. We have come a long way since 1891 and now have members in governance roles in all sectors of the economy.
I have seen much of this for myself with our conferences for the charity sector and the school academy sector, and certificates in health service governance, charity law and governance, and sports governance.
We continue to make sure that our core qualification remains fit for purpose and the review of the Chartered Secretaries Qualifying Scheme is well under way for launch in 2018.
We also changed our strapline to ICSA: The Governance Institute in 2016 to reflect our role as a major player in the field of governance, and we continue to raise our profile as our guidance, conferences and training sessions attract huge interest.
“It is the President’s role to look backwards as well as forwards and to pay tribute to the achievements of his or her predecessors”
I continued with the major branch outreach programme, launched by Simon Osborne in 2012 and taken forward by my recent predecessors, and visited many of our branches, regions and associated territories throughout my presidency.
I also presided over several student graduation ceremonies in London and elsewhere in full regalia. These are always happy celebratory occasions and it was very gratifying to see so many enthusiastic young people coming forward to join our profession.
It was also pleasing to see more experienced members advance to Fellowship and to congratulate others on reaching the milestone of 50 years of membership.
Major achievements during my presidency include completing the constitutional changes to turn UKRIAT into a self-standing division in its own right, the conclusion to a protracted process over five years to put the divisions on an equal footing.
However, perhaps the biggest development of all, or at least the most financially significant, was the sale of our Blueprint OneWorld and BoardPad software businesses to Diligent Corporation earlier this year. I wrote an article for Governance and Compliance in May setting out the rationale in more detail.
Suffice to say, the proceeds will safeguard our future and I can reassure you that the UKRIAT Committee’s investment subcommittee on which I serve is taking steps to ensure that the funds are invested optimally.
The saying ‘old soldiers never die, they just fade away’ applies in a way to me, as I will remain an Honorary Officer in my new role as Immediate Past President and will continue to serve on the International Council.
I will also remain as Chair of the Chartered Secretaries Charitable Trust. The more serious point I want to make here though is that there is always an opportunity to help and promote the Institute, whatever the stage in your career.
In closing, I would like to wish my successor John Heaton every success as incoming UKRIAT President and thank everyone for their support during my term which has ended on such an optimistic note – the Institute certainly has a bright future.