This week, our President and Founder, Liz Watson, participated on the judging panel of the Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries Excellence in Governance Awards, held in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The awards ceremony was attended by close to 300 of Canada's top governance practitioners and leaders from the corporate, non-profit, crown and public sectors, and recognizes the important contribution governance professionals make in terms of best practices that build and sustain shareholder and stakeholder value. The awards underscore the critical role that good governance plays in sustaining the value of Canada’s public companies, crown corporations, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations, contributing to the competitiveness of Canada’s economy and its capital markets.
The winners were announced last night with awards being distributed in the following categories:
Best sustainability, ethics and environmental governance programs
Best use of technology in governance, risk and compliance
Best approach to board and committee support
Best shareholder or stakeholder engagement by a governance team
Best overall corporate governance
Best approach to board diversity
Joyce Borden-Reed CSCS distinguished contribution award
The Canadian Society of Corporate Secretaries ("CSCS") announces an esteemed judging panel for the Excellence in Governance Awards/Prix d'excellence en gouvernance (EGs). The highly respected jury will select the winners for the awards, which will be announced and celebrated on August 18, 2013 in Halifax, Nova Scotia at the opening dinner of the CSCS' 15th Annual Conference.
The Excellence in Governance Awards jury panel is composed of seasoned and well-respected governance thought leaders from across Canada. CSCS has carefully selected the judges to ensure representation from all aspects of the governance community, including shareholder representatives, regulatory experts, leading academics and practitioners.
Gigi Dawe, Risk Oversight and Governance, and National Practice Area Leader, Governance, Strategy and Risk, CICA
Stephen Griggs, Director and past Executive Director of CCGG
Sylvia Groves, President and Creative Director, Governance Studio
Carol Hansell, Senior Partner, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP
Richard Leblanc, Associate Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, York University
Carol McNamara, Vice President, Associate General Counsel and Secretary, Royal Bank of Canada
Paul Schneider, Manager, Corporate Governance, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP)
Elizabeth Watson, QC, President of WATSON Inc.
These eight experts will be joined by Honorary Judge Peter Dey, Chairman, Paradigm Capital and judging facilitator Brendan Sheehan, Founder and President, The Illawong Group.
The CSCS EG Awards recognize the important contribution governance professionals make to the best practices that build shareholder and stakeholder value. The awards underscore the critical role that good governance plays in sustaining the value of Canada's public and private companies, crown corporations, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations, and in contributing to Canada's economy, its services, and its capital markets.
Earlier this month, WATSON attended The Nature Trust of British Columbia's Nature & Water Gala. This fundraising event was a night of wonderful food and entertainment, as well as honouring individuals who work every single day to protect and preserve our beautiful British Columbia. Our placed candidate, Dr. Jasper Lament, was also introduced as their new Chief Executive Officer.
To find out more about The Nature Trust of BC and how you can get involved, please watch the video below.
Last month I had the opportunity to attend the BoardSource Leadership Forum in Chicago, billed as “the only national [i.e., American] conference focused on the impact of nonprofit boards and the unique role they play in advancing the public good”. I joined approximately 800 other governance experts, nonprofit executives and board leaders from four different countries to participate in the conversation on the latest governance developments and trends in the not-for-profit sector. It was an incredible opportunity to spend two days immersed in the world of not-for-profit governance, where workshops, presentations and informal discussions covered such topics as effective board meetings, enhancing board engagement, the importance of intergenerational boards and the complex governance issues facing networks, federations and affiliated organizations.
It’s hard to narrow down the highlights from the Forum but here are a couple of takeaways that resonated with me the most. First, in a plenary session, LinkedIn founder, investor and philanthropist Reid Hoffman opined that boards of directors should have no more than seven members; any more than seven causes him to query whether the organization in question truly understands the value that an effective board can bring. Although in WATSON’s view there is no one “perfect” board size, we do see a trend toward smaller boards and agree that in general, smaller boards tend to be more effective and nimble (provided of course that they are large enough to ensure a diversity of skills, experience and perspective).
Second, one facilitator made the observation “when you’ve seen one board…you’ve seen one board”. A simple but powerful reminder that governance is not one size fits all. The “best” governance structure and processes for any organization (whether not-for-profit or otherwise) depends on a multitude of factors such as the organization’s mission, stakeholders and stage of development. Good governance helps organizations perform better, and one of our specialties at WATSON is to work with clients to create customized governance frameworks that take into account their specific needs.
All in all, a great experience! I am already looking forward to next year’s Forum in Los Angeles.
This past week, WATSON co-hosted an exclusive breakfast panel event for CEOs and Board Members with MacKay CEO Forums. A few of the key take-aways were:
"It's important to look at two things: continuity planning (losing a key exec) as well as succession planning (planning for loss of executive)"- David Labistour,
"CEO's should prepare a “hit by a bus” envelope for the board (replacement nominations and key succession information) and at the same time be training and grooming a number of individuals so that the board can make an informed decision"- Peter Blake, CEO Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers
"Board members are no longer paid for attendance- they are now paid for attention"- Peter Blake, CEO Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers
"Together, the Board should ensure they have sufficient knowledge of the people and the company, not just about the process"- Paul Clinton, Past Director, Fosters Group
"It's extremely important to bring in an outside facilitator to make sure that the Board is able to have a full conversation about succession issues and to ensure that any elephants in the room are surfaced"- Dee Marcoux, Director, SNC-Lavalin and Sherritt International
Judy Brooks and Cathy Thorpe of WATSON attended Forum for Women Entrepreneur's annual Garden Party in June! The event celebrated local female entrepreneurs and their successes, as well as toasted in the start of summer in Vancouver from the beautiful Vancouver Art Gallery patio.
WATSON strategy advisor Judy Brooks spoke this week at the Vancouver chapter Women in Leadership mentorship program wrap-up, along with daughter Devon Brooks. Judy and Devon shed some light on their unique personal mentorship relationship and provided valuable advice for attendees on finding and maintaining strong mentorship relationships. As a strong supporter of women and particularly, women in leadership positions, Judy also touched on the importance of such a relationship in developing one's career and progressing through the workforce.
For more information on Women in Leadership, click here.
WATSON is excited to be volunteering at the 6th Annual Fair In The Square, presented by the Central City Foundation and Vancouver Community College. This popular, free neighbourhood BBQ and upbeat concert is described by some as a "giant community picnic" and a festive way for neighbours to connect with neighbours in a fun and casual outdoor environment.
For more information and to volunteer for the event, click here.
WATSON is proud to be participating as an Honouring Partner of the Association of Women in Finance (AWF) PEAK Awards Gala. Celebrating its crystal (15th) anniversary this year, the PEAK Awards is an annual event held by the AWF to honour and celebrate women who have achieved excellence in the field of finance. As well, the Gala helps raise funds for the PEAK Scholarship Fund.
For more information and to purchase tickets for the event, click here.
Cathy Thorpe and Judy Brooks of WATSON will be participating in a leadership luncheon on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012, entitled Leadership to Grow Your Business, sponsored by the Delta Chamber of Commerce. They will be discussing best practices on how to take your business to the next level, based on their own experience leading companies.
For more information and to register for the event, please click here.