The Australian Governance Summit is set to expand on the AICD-led conversation about the need to transform governance from conformance to performance.

    Pushing the boundaries of excellence in governance

    The Australian Governance Summit is set to expand on the AICD-led conversation about the need to transform governance from conformance to performance, writes Tony Featherstone. 

    Directing for performance – how boards drive organisation effectiveness – is the key theme of the inaugural Australian Governance Summit 2016.

    This landmark governance event, to be held in Melbourne on 3 to 4 March, builds on the success of previous Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) annual conferences with an exciting new format that analyses current and emerging governance issues and their impact on organisation outcomes.

    The format better reflects the AICD membership base with sessions for directors of listed companies, private enterprises, not-for-profits, and the government/public sector. A concurrent session format allows delegates to choose the most relevant content for them.

    Almost half of the summit’s presenters and panellists are women – the highest proportion of female speakers in AICD annual conference history – and in keeping with AICD’s thought-leadership position to encourage greater gender diversity in governance.

    “Good governance remains firmly on the agenda across Australia to ensure long-term sustainability and organisation effectiveness,” says AICD managing director & CEO John Brogden. “Directing for Performance allows directors and their fellow board members to consider the day-to-day relevant and topical issues affecting their organisation in the 21st century, and how their approach to governance affects organisation performance.”

    Few governance topics are more important or timelier than the role of boards in organisational strategy and performance. The summit continues an AICD-led conversation on the need to transform governance from conformance to performance.

    “The Australian Governance Summit emphasises the commitment of AICD to provide members with an event designed to enhance their governance capabilities,” says Brogden. “By bringing together governance experts and well-renowned speakers, our members and the director community will have access to the most up-to-date thinking and knowledge.”

    Brogden adds: “Our aim is to deliver something fresh and new, surprising, thought-provoking, topical and relevant. An event that challenges members to continually push the boundaries of excellence in governance, and provides innovative insights and examples.”

    Outstanding line-up

    A strong consultation process with internal and external stakeholders over several months has helped AICD develop the most relevant content across sectors and secure an exceptional line-up of independent speakers.

    More than 40 leading directors and governance experts, across a range of sectors, will present or feature in panels. They include keynote speaker David Gonski AC FAICDLife, chair of ANZ Banking Group and Coca-Cola; former New South Wales Premier Nick Greiner AC FAICDLife; former Victoria Premier John Brumby; AMP chair Simon McKeon AO FAICD; Broadspectrum chair Diane Smith-Gander FAICD; and Stockland Corporation chair Graham Bradley AM FAICD.

    Not-for-profit (NFP) speakers include Susan Pascoe AM FAICD, Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission; Ronni Kahn MAICD of OzHarvest; NFP director Paul Murnane FAICD; company director Lynn Wood FAICD, and City West Water managing director Anne Barker.

    In private enterprise, family business director Andrew Mostyn FAICD will examine the benefits of forming a board for private companies. A session on the importance of succession planning in private enterprise will feature on the summit’s second day.

    Public-sector governance is also prominent. Innovation expert Göran Roos, a member of the Economic Development Board of South Australia, will outline innovative models of public-sector governance, and will be joined on a panel by company director Dr Marlene Kanga FAICD; prominent management and strategy thinker Andrew Balmaks MAICD; and Commissioner for Public Sector Employment Erma Ranieri.

    Other program highlights include Tales from the Corporate Battlefield, presented by company director Siobhan McKenna and Bellamy’s Australia chair Rob Woolley MAICD; Policy Making for the Long Term, a proactive look at key policy areas hosted by Australian Financial Review columnist Jennifer Hewitt; and Directing for Performance through the Diversity Lens by Lt Gen David Morrison (Ret).

    A summit welcome address from recently elected AICD chairman Elizabeth Proust AO FAICD, and Diane Smith-Gander’s examination of the most topical and relevant board issues for 2016, at the Biggest Boardroom Lunch on day two of the summit, are other highlights.

    The new concurrent session format allows delegates to get the most out of these sessions. For the first time, directors can choose from one of four sessions across the listed-company, private-enterprise, NFP and government/public sectors on both mornings.

    In the afternoon, directors choose from general-topic concurrent sessions that best suit their needs. General topics include Tax Reform in Action, presented by KPMG’s Grant Wardell-Johnson; The Board’s Role in Strategy and Risk by Simon McKeon; Technology and Disruption in Action by KPMG tech expert Guy Holland; and Driving Productivity in the Boardroom.

    Delegates can access information from sessions they do not attend through pre-summit articles, research and content, and post-summit videos, transcripts and papers. Key-point summaries of each session will be available within hours of its conclusion.

    Networking a key benefit

    The summit has been designed to maximise networking opportunities for current and emerging company directors who attend. Day one features a welcome reception and networking drinks and canapes; day two includes a networking breakfast and the Biggest Boardroom Lunch. The sector-specific sessions will allow delegates to better network with governance professionals in their sector and make new contacts.

    The summit has been designed to maximise networking opportunities for current and emerging directors.

    There will be plenty to talk about. The summit’s focus on contemporary governance issues affecting board and organisational performance in Australia today is an important change from previous AICD annual conferences, which focused on longer-term governance challenges, compliance issues, and had more of a global focus.

    The Australian Governance Summit has so far had a strong early response. AICD already has more than 500 delegates, in part because the Summit has broader appeal across sectors and because of the accessibility of the Melbourne Convention Centre compared with overseas venues.

    Directors from all over Australia are attending the Summit, based on early registrations. New South Wales and Victorian directors comprise just over half of registered delegates, with 17 per cent from Queensland, 10 per cent from Western Australia, and 5 per cent each from South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. Directors from Tasmania, the Northern Territory and overseas comprise the remaining registrations.

    AICD member grades should be evenly represented at the summit: about 35 per cent of registered delegates are Fellows, 40 per cent are graduates, and 25 per cent are members. The high number of AICD Fellows attending will provide opportunities for established and emerging directors to network with prominent chairs.

    Most of all, the summit provides an opportunity to learn about governance best practices and trends, develop personal and professional skills, and be exposed to the latest thinking on how directors enhance organisation performance.

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